Make Your Fall Fantastic

with These Autumn Planter Tips!

FallFlorals 1022

October 2022 Issue
By Dawn Hart

Do you love gardening all summer long but feel your inspiration drop with the temperatures?

Dawn Hart from Ace Garden Center on St. Simons Island has tips to get you excited about fall planters!


Picking the Planter
Options are plentiful in this regard but thinking about the placement is important and how the container can accentuate the types of foliage and flowers you want to incorporate. Rustic wood, metal and baskets all work well for a natural, casual look. Ceramic pots in tones of mustard, orange and cobalt blue will give a more formal look to your arrangement.

If you want to do a grouping of containers, blending colors and choosing varying shapes such as a vase shape with a lower bowl and an urn can add interest, especially to your front entryway. And don’t forget to complete the look with a few strategically placed pumpkins or gourds either in the pots or staggered up the front steps!  If planting a group of containers, you can include plants which can stand alone, such as crotons, ornamental grasses or mums. If you have a deep, tall planter, try filling the bottom third with mulch, or use rock to steady a top-heavy, fragile container.

Choosing the Right Soil    

A loose, nutrient-rich and well-draining potting soil will ensure successful results. We recommend Fox Farm, Black Gold and Miracle Gro. Most of these include peat, aged forest products, perlite, fertilizer and earth worm castings, which are all important for healthy plant growth.

Planning Your Planter: Think Thriller, Filler and SpillerFallFlorals 1022 2

If you are planting an accent planter, you will be happy with your efforts if you keep the “Thriller, Filler and Spiller” planting mantra in mind. 

The Thriller is usually the taller plant in your composition, which can be planted either in the middle of the container (if the pot is being viewed on all sides), or in the case of placement on a wall, the thriller would be placed to the back of the grouping.

The Filler comes next and are usually plants with a more rounded growth habit that would go around the base of the thriller and could be more than one variety.

The Spillers include plants that trail over the sides of the pot and can also incorporate more than one selection, alternating placement around your pot for interest.

Examples of Fall Thrillers:
African Iris, Variegated Flax Lilly, Cordylines, Canna Lillies, Crotons, Ornamental Grasses, Salvias, Sonnet or Rocket Snapdragons, Pentas, Jolt Dianthus, Strobilanthus, Dracena Spikes, Celosia, Alocasia, Nandina, Orange Bird of  Paradise and Foxtail Fern.

Examples of Fall Fillers:
Ornamental Peppers, Heather, Lantana, Mums, Coleus, Heuchera, Cosmos, Calendula, Pansy, Ornamental Kale and Cabbage, Nemesia, Alternanthera, Angelonia, Variegated Plectranthus, Coreopsis, Catharanthus, Firecracker Plant, Carex and Acorus Grasses and Zinnias. Pumpkins and Gourds are also great fillers for larger containers, just place around your thriller and plant around them!

Examples of Fall Spillers:
Calibrachoa, Wave Petunias, Creeping Jenny, Verbena, Licorice Plant, Diascia, Alyssum, Cool Wave Pansies, Angelina Sedum, Asparagus Ferns, English Ivy, Vinca Vine, Potato Vine, Blue Daze, Trailing Lantana, Wire Vine, Scaveola and Purple Pixie Loropetalum.

How to Plant
     Fill the soil in the container to the depth where when you place the thriller plant, the top of the root ball will be even with the top depth of the soil which should be about 2” from the top of your container.  Make sure to loosen the roots if they are matted to the outside of the root ball, then build up the soil around that plant (or plants if your pot is large and you use more than one) until the depth will accommodate the fillers, which should also be placed at a level even with the top of its root ball. Go ahead and arrange your spillers at this point and go back and fill the soil in around the fillers and spillers so there are no air pockets. Be sure to pack the soil firmly in between your plantings. Basically, you work your way out from either the middle or back of your container.

Keeping Your Plant Watered

With the weather beginning to get cooler, and with as much wet weather as we have been getting, you will have to adjust your watering practices accordingly. Container plants need to be allowed to dry slightly between waterings. Sticking your finger in the soil to about 2 inches is a good way to tell if the container is ready to be watered; often with our wind gusts, plants may dry at the top but be moist underneath. It is also important to remember the smaller the container, the quicker it will dry out.

With larger containers, the amount of dirt mass will hold moisture longer. Most larger container plants right now need water every 2 to 3 days, then about twice a week when the temperatures get down into the 70s. Smaller pots should currently be watered every other day.

Talk to the experts:

Stop by Ace Garden Center for help from our knowledgeable staff in choosing the best plants and containers for your garden or entryway. We are open every day and love to help with all your planting needs.

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