Fall Container Plants: 18 Eye-Catching Annuals & Perennials

Last Updated: September 13, 2023

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Looking to add a splash of color to your home this fall? Check out these beautiful fall container plants that will thrive in your window boxes or planters. We’ve gathered some of our favorite annuals and perennials that will deck out your home in autumnal hues.

Fall container plants: 18 annuals and perennials

As the leaves start to change color and the weather starts to cool down, it’s time to start thinking about putting together your autumn planters and window boxes.

And you may be wondering what the best plants are to use.

I look for varieties that do well in cooler weather, look great this late in the season, and don’t require a lot of maintenance. (I don’t know about you, but my gardening motivation isn’t very high at this time of the year).

Then choose between annuals and perennials (or a combination of the two):

  • Cool weather annuals tend to bloom a little longer.
  • But perennials will come back year after year. (I have some growing in containers that I haven’t had to re-plant in over 5 years!)

I also like to use plants that have great foliage. Because then you don’t have to worry about the flowers fading.

And of course, you’ll need to find ones that thrive in the amount of light you have available.

So keeping all that in mind, here are some of my favorite fall container plants for putting together the perfect autumn look.

1 | Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums in pots

Zone: 3 to 10
Exposure: Sun
Height: 2′ to 3′
Width: 2′ to 3′
Bloom time: Fall
Flower color: Yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, white

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a fall favorite for many home gardeners so naturally they’re the first plant on the list.

Their daisy-like flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, pink, and purple. Mums bloom from late summer to early fall and prefer full sun.

Chrysanthemums are pretty drought tolerant, but they’ll bloom better if you keep them evenly moist.

These plants are perennials and will come back every year if planted in good potting soil and kept well-watered. I bought a couple of them from Costco 5 years ago and they are still going strong in planters on either side of my garage.

Find out more about growing Chrysanthemums.

2 | Ornamental kale or cabbage

Purple ornamental kale

Zone: Annual
Exposure: Sun
Height: 1′ to 2′
Width: 1′ to 2′
Bloom time: N/A
Color: Purple, pink, green, white

If you’re looking for a pop of color in your fall container garden, ornamental kale or cabbage is a great option.

While they are often called flowering kale, it’s actually the leaves that provide the interest for these annuals.

Which means they don’t fade until frost. And don’t require deadheading.

These plants prefer full sun and cool weather.

3 | Pansies

Pansies in a window box

Zone: Usually treated as annuals
Exposure: Sun to part shade
Height: 6″ to 9″
Width: 9″ to 12″
Bloom time: Spring, Fall
Flower color: Purple, blue, yellow, pink, burgundy, orange

Pansies are another great choice for fall planters.

These cheerful flowers come in a wide range of colors, including yellow, blue, purple, and white.

They are annuals that prefer cool weather and usually survive through the first few frosts, which makes them the perfect flower to add color to your autumn containers.

Deadhead spent flowers to encourage more blooms, and water regularly to encourage more growth.

4 | Cyclamen


Zone: 4 to 8
Exposure: Part shade to shade
Height: 4″ to 6″
Width: 6″ to 12″
Bloom time: Late summer to late fall
Flower color: Pink, purple, red, white

If you’re looking for a plant that will give your fall containers some extra pizazz, look no further than the cyclamen. This unique flower is perfect for adding a touch of personality to any planter.

It is a low-growing perennial tuber with multi-colored green leaves and uniquely shaped flowers in pink, purple, red and white.

They do not like direct sunlight so are perfect for fall containers in the shade.

Also, if you want your cyclamen to come back, make sure to get one of the hardy varieties. Many florist versions are more tender.

5 | Sweet Alyssum

Purple and white sweet alyssum
©RasaBasa – stock.adobe.com

Zone: Annual
Exposure: Sun to part shade
Height: 4″ to 6″
Width: 6″ to 12″
Bloom time: All season
Flower color: White, pink or purple

Sweet alyssum is a beautiful and easy-to-grow annual plant that makes a great addition to any fall container garden.

It has small, very fragrant flowers in clusters of white, pink or purple that will trail over the edges of your planter.

This plant prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade (with a few less blooms).

6 | Ornamental peppers

Ornamental peppers in containers

Zone: 9b to 11, treated as an annual in colder zones
Bloom time:
Flower color: N/A

Ornamental peppers are another interesting option for your autumn container garden.

While they aren’t actually a flower, their bright red peppers add color and an interesting shape to any fall arrangement. And some have really pretty leaf colors as well.

Ornamental peppers are treated as annuals in most of North America and grow best in well-drained potting soil in full sun

7 | Purple fountain grass

Purple fountain grass with sedum and sweet alyssum

Zone: 9 to 11, treated as an annual in colder zones
Exposure: Full sun
Height: 3′ to 4′
Width: 2′ to 3′
Bloom time: N/A
Flower color: N/A

Fountain grass is a beautiful, ornamental grass that’s perfect for growing in containers.

It has purple-colored foliage and feathery seed heads that add interest to the back of any planter. And provide a great backdrop for other fall flowers.

8 | Calibrachoa

Pink and purple Calibrachoa

Zone: 9 to 11, treated as an annual in colder zones
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Height: 6″ to 12″
Width: 12″ to 24″
Bloom time: Spring to fall
Flower color: Pink, red, yellow, orange, purple, blue, white

When it comes to container gardening, few plants are as versatile and easy-to-grow as calibrachoa.

Also known as million bells, these annuals are prized for their long bloom period, prolific flowers, and low maintenance needs.

They bloom continuously all season, so I plant them in my spring planters and then re-use them in the fall. If well-watered, they don’t usually get leggy like some other annuals (although you can cut them back if it does happen).

They are heavy feeders so make sure to fertilize them regularly during the growing season to promote an abundance of beautiful flowers.

9 | Supertunias

Purple supertunias
©skymoon13 – stock.adobe.com

Zone: Annuals
Exposure: Full sun
Height: 6″ to 10″
Width: 24″ to 36″
Bloom time: All season
Flower color: Purple, pink, white, orange, black, white, red

Supertunias are vigorous flowering annuals that come in a variety of colors, bloom all season long and are relatively low maintenance.

Because of their trailing habit, they make great plants for hanging baskets and window boxes.

I like to plant them in my spring containers, enjoy their blooms, then trim them back in mid-summer.

That way they are ready with another profusion of blooms in the fall.

Like all petunias, they need regular watering and full sun to be at their best. Extra fertilizer also helps to maintain their flower production.

10 | Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller with Ornamental Cabbage and sweet alyssum

Zone: Annual
Exposure: Sun to part shade
Height: 12″ to 18″
Width: 8″ to 12″
Bloom time: N/A
Flower color: Silver leaves

Dusty Miller is a beautiful silvery-green plant that adds a touch of elegance to any container garden. While it doesn’t bloom, its leaves are perfect for adding some contrast.

I add it to all of my spring and summer containers (where it gets quite large) and then re-use it in fall planters at the end of the season.

Its beautiful silvery foliage looks really beautiful with purple fall colors, like ornamental kale.

11 | Coleus

Orange and yellow Coleus leaves

Zone: 10 to 11, treated as an annual in colder climates
Exposure: Full shade to full sun (depending on the variety)
Height: 18″ to 24″
Width: 18″ to 24″
Bloom time: Late summer
Leaf color: Green, yellow, red, purple, pink, maroon

Coleus are one of the most popular plants for container gardens, especially in the shade. But there are varieties available for pretty much any light condition, so check the labels when you are buying them.

While they do produce flower stalks, these plants are mostly grown for their leaves that come in a wide range of colors and patterns.

It’s actually a good idea to remove the blooms, since doing so will promote new leaf growth and extend the life of the plant.

12 | Scotch Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Pink and red Scotch Heather in a fall planter

Zone: 4 to 6
Exposure: Full sun
Height: 12″ to 24″
Width: 12″ to 24″
Bloom time: Fall
Flower color: Pink, purple, white, red

Heather is a fall-blooming perennial that does quite well in pots.

It needs full sun for the best blooms, but is quite drought tolerant so may be a good choice if you don’t always remember to water your pots.

This plant dislikes heat and high humidity so is not a good choice for the south.

13 | Sedum

'Lemon Coral' sedum in a blue fall container

Zone: 3 to 10 (depending on the variety)
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Height: 6″ to 24″ (depending on the variety)
Width: 12″ to 24″
Bloom time: Summer to fall
Flower color: Orange, pink, red, white, yellow

Sedum, also known as stonecrop, is a type of succulent that makes a great addition to fall planters.

It comes in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, pink, and red.

Some varieties are low-growing (like ‘Lemon Coral’ above) and are mostly planted for their colorful foliage.

While others (such as ‘Autumn Joy’) are taller and have beautiful fall flowers.

In either case, they are drought tolerant and can take a lot of sun (although they can tolerate some shade).

The key to growing Sedum in containers is good drainage since they prefer to be too dry than too wet.

14 | Asters

Fall container plants - purple asters

Zone: 3 to 8
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Height: 1′ to 4′
Width: 2′ to 4′
Bloom time: Late summer to fall
Flower color: Blue, pink, purple, red and white

Asters are low-maintenance, native perennials that produce beautiful daisy-like flowers in the fall.

They come in a variety of colors and sizes.

And they’re drought-tolerant, cold-tolerant and low-maintenance plants. Which makes them perfect plants for fall containers.

15 | Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari growing in a container

Zone: 5 to 10
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Height: 12″ to 18″
Width: 12″ to 18″
Bloom time: Late summer to fall
Flower color: Purple, blue

Liriope muscari, commonly known as big blue lilyturf or monkey grass, is a species of flowering plant in the asparagus family.

It has grass-like leaves with spiky purple flowers that add textural contrast to more broad-leafed plants in a container.

Make sure to get Liriope muscari and not Liriope spicata since the latter blooms earlier in the season (and is quite invasive if it escapes the container).

16 | Coral bells

Yellow and purple Coral bells

Zone: 4 to 9
Exposure: Shade to part shade
Height: 6″ to 18″
Width: 12″ to 30″
Bloom time: Spring
Flower color: Pink, white, red
Leaf color: Multi-toned green, chartreuse, burgundy, black, orange, yellow, brown

Coral bells (Heuchera spp.) are one of my favorite perennials for adding color and interest to container gardens.

While they don’t bloom in the fall, these easy-to-grow plants come in a wide variety of leaf colors, from rich burgundy to bright chartreuse. So you’re bound to find one that goes with your color scheme.

I like to plant them in spring planters to see them bloom, let them grow over the summer, then use them in fall containers.

At the end of the season, you can either leave them in the planter where they will usually come back the next year. Or plant them in the garden where they make great edging plants.

17 | Black-eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susan

Zone: 3 to 7
Exposure: Full sun
Height: 12″ to 24″
Width: 36″ to 60″
Bloom time: Summer to fall
Flower color: Yellow

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) is a beautiful and easy to grow perennial that will add color and charm to your fall containers.

This profuse bloomer produces an abundance of daisy-like flowers in shades of yellow, gold, and orange from summer to fall.

Deadhead spent flowers regularly to keep plants tidy and encourage them to produce even more blossoms.

18 | Sedge

Yellow sedge

Zone: 3 to 9 (depending on the variety)
Exposure: Full shade to full sun (depending on the variety)
Height: 8″ to 24″
Width: 12″ to 24″
Bloom time: N/A
Flower color: N/A

Sedge is a grass-like perennial that’s perfect for adding texture and interest to your planters.

I like to use the variegated and yellow varieties to provide contrast with purple plants such as ornamental kale, asters and coral bells.

It is a low-maintenance plant that prefers partial shade and is quite drought tolerant.

That’s it for our list of the best fall container plants. Stay tuned for our next posts where we’ll show you some examples of how to combine them to create beautiful autumn window boxes and planters.

Other fall gardening ideas you might like

Have comments or questions on our fall container plants? Tell us in the section below.

This post was originally published on September 15, 2022 but was updated with new content on September 13, 2023.

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