I woke up this morning to take the dogs outside and couldn’t believe it. There was a slight bit of coolness in the air! For Floridians who have been putting up with the unbearable heat and humidity since May, this slight break in the weather is a big deal. I am sure that many of you in other places are surprised that we celebrate 66 degrees.
For a few weeks I’ve been trimming my summer containers back, trying to keep things in bounds and looking their best. These were planted in April, so six months later they are starting to go downhill. I am confident that if I gave them a hard pruning and watered more often they would come back well, but truth be told, I am ready for a change too.
This photo shows how woody the stems of the coleus and Brazilian Red Hot Alternanthera have become over time. They are at the point where the microirrigation doesn’t keep them watered enough and they really need to be handwatered a few times per week. Time for a change!
It took less than 5 minutes to clear out these three containers. I added a little bit of fresh soil to them, but really didn’t need to much at all. I’ve learned this over time: it is much easier to add more soil if needed than to keep taking it out every time you put another plant in the container. Leave the soil level 3-4 inches below the top so that when you are finished it is at the desired 2″ below (this allows for easy watering without soil and water running over).
I visited a nearby home improvement store this weekend to get a few pieces of sod and ended up coming home with these beauties. I love crotons as a great element for fall containers in Florida. The reds, oranges and yellows looks so fall themed to me and they combine really well with the mums for sale too. There were several varieties of crotons to chose from, but the ‘Petra’ are so bold and dramatic that I couldn’t pass them by.
I think that all fall containers need to have mums, so I started be selecting an assortment of different colors. I try to buy the plants that are still in very tight buds with just a tiny bit of color showing; these will last the longest. Keeping in mind that these would be with the ‘Petra’ crotons in my fall containers, I looked for the final elements that would tie these things together and finish my display.
The other plants I chose were the purple Mexican Heather, the lime green ‘Goldilocks’ lysmachia to trail over the edges and a few white angelonia flowers as a neutral filler. I must admit that the ‘Goldilocks’ lysmachia was a little bit of an impulse purchase because I haven’t seen this for sale in a while (but I would still buy it again today!). I am really happy with these color combinations and think they do a nice job representing a Florida version of a fall containers.
On my next trip to the farmer’s market I plan to load up on pumpkins and gourds to finish the fall touches with these. Last year I added mini pumpkins on bamboo stakes (read all about it here) so I will definitely plan to do that again this year. I love the repetition of the big crotons and think it does a nice job of bringing the three elements together.