Fall Color Container Garden

Flower magazine's Jessica Cohen shares step-by-step instructions for a fall container garden overflowing with vibrant autumn hues

Welcome guests this autumn with a splash of color by the door. A fall container garden is easy to assemble but makes a big statement from September through first frost. To start, you will need a large pot, potting mix, and a few attractive plants from your local garden store.


Choose a variety of tall, medium, and low-growing plants, with a mix of textures and complementary autumn hues. Here, tall ‘Black Pearl’ ornamental peppers and low-growing ‘Purple Lady’ iresine offer dark purple foliage, while blooms of cosmos, marigolds, and calibrachoa (also known as million bells) bring warming oranges and reds. There’s even a bright flash of citron in the coleus.


  • Ornamental pepper ‘Black Pearl’
  • Coleus ‘Alabama Sunset’
  • Cosmos ‘Cosmic Orange’
  • Marigold ‘Hot Pak Harmony’
  • Calibrachoa ‘Orange’ (also known as million bells)
  • Iresine ‘Purple Lady’


  • 15-inch terra-cotta pot
  • Potting mix
Kelly Perry arrangement of roses, clematis, fern and other flowers.

Tools and materials for the fall color container garden


Fill the container with potting soil, leaving 2–3 inches of space at the top to allow room for planting and watering. If needed, gently loosen the root ball of each plant, which encourages root expansion.


Because this fall container garden is meant to stand by a door or nestle against a step, hiding the back from full view, the same design principles we would use for a one-sided cut-flower arrangement apply. Begin with taller plants in the back, and transition to shorter, lower-growing plants in the front. This ensures each beautiful bloom and unique texture is visible. Last, add a hardy cascading plant—in this case, iresine—to spill over the side and soften the edges. Then keep it watered and enjoy until the first frost.