Perfect Autumn Planters | Platt Hill Nursery | Chicago | Blog & Advice

Designing autumn planters is a great way to bring seasonal colors and textures right to your front porch.


With the start of every new season comes the opportunity for new seasonal planter designs, and autumn is no exception. Starting in September, a new palette of flowers suddenly comes into bloom, breathing new life into our pots and containers that we can enjoy well into fall. Here’s how to switch over your containers and take full advantage of all your blooming fall favorites! 


How to Transition Summer Planters to Fall in Illinois 

By mid-September, your summer planters might be showing signs of fatigue. Some blossoms may have stopped, while others could have yellowed and weathered appearances. Despite this, certain plants might still catch the eye and offer potential for renewal, like petunias, geraniums, ornamental grass, and ivy.  

As you transition your garden to autumn, start by choosing which plants to keep and which to replace. For those you keep, rejuvenate their vitality with a thorough trimming of unsightly leaves, faded flowers, and excessive growth.


assorted colorful autumn plants - Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

What Flowers Can I Plant in Pots in the Fall?

Whether you’re letting some summer favorites stick around or are starting your fall planters from scratch, here are the best seasonal flowers to include in your planters: 

  • Ornamental Cabbages & Kale: These annuals are known for their stunning foliage, which can range from deep purples to vibrant pinks and whites. They provide a striking visual element and can withstand light frost, making them ideal for fall gardens.
  • Chrysanthemums (Mums): Chrysanthemums are one of the most highly-prized autumn flowers, with gardeners across North America eagerly awaiting their arrival each season. They come in countless colors and bloom shapes and can stand alone in autumn porch pots or act as impressive focal points in your next floral display.
  • Asters: Asters are daisy-like flowers that come in shades of pink, purple, and blue. They not only bring a touch of elegance to your containers but also attract pollinators, contributing to the ecological health of your garden.
  • Ornamental Grasses: Ornamental grasses are known for their graceful plumes that sway in the breeze, adding movement and texture to your fall displays. They can serve as central features in your planters, providing a grand “thriller” element.
  • Pansies: Pansies are cheerful and resilient flowers that come in a wide range of colors. They thrive in cooler temperatures and can withstand frost, making them a perfect addition to autumn planters.
  • Ornamental Peppers: Bursting with fiery, jewel-toned fruits, ornamental peppers bring a sizzling splash of color to your decorative planters. These compact, easy-to-care-for plants make a vibrant statement, with their spicy flair and attractive foliage.


chrysanthemum in fall planter-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

Creative Display Ideas for Autumn Planters in Chicago

Now that you know what to include in your autumn planters, here are some tips for combining these elements into impressive displays:

The Power of Threes: Rather than relying on solitary plants, use groupings of three to create a dynamic visual appeal. This approach instills balance and harmony and sidesteps the rigidity of symmetry in your design, offering a more organic and engaging scene.

Thriller, Spiller, Filler: If you’ve dabbled in planter design, you’re likely familiar with the classic thriller-spiller-filler concept. This design method uses a central focal point (the thriller), plants cascading over the edges (spillers), and complementary fillers collectively to form a dynamic composition. While strict adherence isn’t necessary, this method gives a versatile framework for creative designs.

Maximize Space: Unlike summer displays that need to accommodate plant growth, fall planters don’t require much room for expansion because their plants aren’t growing, so feel free to stuff your displays full of beautiful flowers and lush greenery! Doing so creates a look of abundance, amplifying the visual impact of your arrangement.


pumpkin in fall planter-Platt Hill Nursery-Chicago

Beyond Blooms: Enrich your fall displays by incorporating more than just flowers; think beyond petals and leaves and introduce the charm of the season to your arrangement with pumpkins, gourds, straw accents, corn stalks, and other autumn decor. These elements infuse your planters with seasonal allure, capturing the spirit of fall in its entirety.

Designing autumn planters is a great way to bring seasonal colors and textures right to your front porch. To see our full selection of fall flowers and decor, come visit our garden centers in Bloomingdale and Carpentersville!


Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.


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