Fresh fall gardening tips for small spaces.
Cooler temps and less humidity make this the perfect time to get outside and do a little planting. Even if you have a small yard or a balcony patio, you can still take advantage of this special time of year to create a beautiful and easy-to-maintain container garden.
Succulents are a good choice for any container garden, especially in the fall when afternoon rainstorms are less frequent. “Succulents are very popular because they’re easy to grow and don’t need to be watered often,” says Linda Matheny, garden center manager of Palmer’s Garden & Goods in Orlando (palmersgarden.com). “They have great color and texture and thrive in hot and dry locations.” If you have south or southwest exposure, try mixing spiky and broad-leaved agave, snake plant and yucca for variety in shape, color and texture, Matheny says. Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, also known as paddle plant, is a popular addition to most container gardens for its rounded fleshy leaves with red edges.
Bruce Kern, assistant chief of landscaping for Winter Park Parks & Recreation, suggests visiting your local nursery before you plant, to see what is available. “Don’t worry about freezes. If you’re planting what’s in season, you should be okay,” Kern says. And don’t be afraid to over-plant. “Fill in the whole container. It will look good now and throughout the season, with different plants blooming at different times.”
A fragrant and colorful butterfly or herb container garden can liven up an otherwise dull entryway or patio. To draw butterflies, try nectar plants like vinca and pentas. They do well year-round in Central Florida and come in many different colors. So do alyssum, salvia and celosia. Host plants can include herbs like dill, fennel, or parsley that do well in cooler weather and can be used to spice up your cooking. Kern says to place your most fragrant flowers like alyssum or jasmine near walkways. “You want your containers to be where people can appreciate them,” he says. You also want to be aware of how the plants will grow. For instance, “some plants drop debris, while others attract bees and even overgrow their containers.”
According to Kern, the most important thing to remember about container gardening is that pots and baskets are porous and will lose moisture faster than in-ground plants. “Containers dry out quicker than the rest of the landscape,” he says. “Unless you have an automatic irrigation system, you’ll want to water your containers at least three times a week.”