Putting together a container garden of fall color
By Chandra Orr
Copley News Service
When the temperatures drop and the days shorten, bring the flower garden indoors.
A blooming container garden of ivy, chrysanthemums, ornamental peppers and anthurium makes a stunning display. The bold bursts of autumnal color will brighten any room - no green thumb required.
"Psychologically, when fall comes and the leaves start dropping, it's nice to have something to hold onto," said floral designer TaraSimone Powell, owner of Barbara's Flowers in New York City. "Blooming plants are so warm and welcoming, especially in the rich, solid autumnal hues. When we head into winter, everything goes very still and colorless, so fall really is the last time to enjoy all of that color."
Capture the essence of autumn with bronze and ginger chrysanthemums, tomato-red anthurium and golden ornamental chili peppers nestled in lush, green ivy. This no-fail container garden combo packs a big punch with minimal effort, Powell said.
"Container gardening is essentially gardening for dummies," she explained. "It's an easy, cost-effective way to add a decorative element to the home."
Start with an appropriate container. Powell recommends terra cotta, as it mimics the color of fall leaves. Decorative window box planters, wicker baskets with plastic liners and empty wooden crates with plant liners work equally well. Look for plants with hearty blossoms in fall hues and bright, full foliage. Any or all of the following work well together:
Robust and resilient, ivy is a natural choice for fall arrangements. The range of hues and textures - especially in the striped and speckled variegated varieties - add depth and interest while providing cover for the base of taller blooming plants.
Ivies require plenty of bright light. Water regularly and drench plants if the soil is dry, as severe dryness will kill ivy quickly, according to The Society of American Florists. Remove dried and withered leaves regularly.
Decorative mums, like those found in flower shops and supermarket floral departments, are designed for life indoors. They're hearty, resilient and long-lasting - and they come in a wide array of fall-friendly colors like crimson, magenta, goldenrod and rust. For added depth and texture, look for marbled mums, which feature two-tone variegated flowers. Chrysanthemums require water every two days and bright indirect light, which encourages the buds to open, according to the Society of American Florists. Don't let the soil dry out, as wilting shortens the plant's life span. Keep them out of direct sunlight, which can burn the fragile blooms.
Ornamental pepper plants offer the most dramatic fall hues. Once the plant flowers, expect numerous small cone-shaped peppers, which change colors as they ripen. Because each pepper ripens at its own pace, expect to see brilliant bursts of red, orange, yellow and green. Plus, the peppers are edible - but very hot. Ornamental pepper plants require plenty of light and even moisture, according to the National Gardening Association.
The tropical anthurium plants common in floral shops feature heart-shaped blooms and large, waxy foliage. The bright red or pink flowers bloom several times a year and make excellent focal points in potted plant arrangements.
Because they originate in tropical rain forests, proper moisture is a must, according to the National Gardening Association. Keep the soil moist at all times and mist the leaves daily. Anthuriums do best in bright, indirect sunlight.
Bromeliads are tropical plants with long-lived waxy blooms on a central stalk framed by robust spiky leaves that form cups that will hold water. The most common varieties feature exotic red, orange or plum blooms.
Bromeliads require bright, indirect light; direct sun can burn the leaves, according to the Society for American Florists. Drench dry soil then drain the excess water. Keep the lowest, most central cups filled with water.
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