ornamental cabbage
Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Late-Season Gardening

Even if you don't have your own backyard, you can still have a colorful garden throughout the year. Simply plant your summer containers full of cool-season plants.

Shown here: ornamental cabbage

Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Container Basics

• Try to plant in early fall (while the soil is still warm) to establish a good root system.

• Place containers in a bright, protected location -- away from strong winds.

• Flower containers, in particular, need to be placed in sunny locations, while plants with colorful foliage and berries can tolerate shadier sites.

Shown here: barrenwort (Epimedium), a semi-evergreen

Stone planters
Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Size Matters

• Use containers that are 14 inches in diameter (or larger) and made out of nonporous material (so they don't crack during a cold spell).

• Poly resin and faux stone pots, like those pictured here, are well-suited for winter plantings.

• When choosing a pot, make sure that it has good drainage holes.

grape hyacinths
Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Adding Variety

• Use a potting soil that has good drainage. Adding compost to the mix helps to create additional heat and adds nutrients.

• Use a slow-release fertilizer that will last until spring.

• Select plants with a hardiness rating colder than your temperature zone.

• Try underplanting with spring-flowering bulbs. Plant bulbs in containers at regular depth (three times the size of the bulb), but space them closer together than you would in the open ground.

• Create long-season interest by selecting a mixture of low-growing conifers, broadleaf evergreens, grasses, and interesting foliage plants.

Shown here: grape hyacinths (Muscari)

Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Fall Planting Guide

Soak up warm autumn afternoons in your glorious fall garden. This book offers practical design ideas, plant advice, and 10 complete garden plans that will have you puttering in the dirt later than you ever thought possible.

Available at NYBG Shop

Benenson ornamental and dwarf conifers
Courtesy of The New York Botanical Garden

Winter Care

• Water in the morning when soil is dry and especially at the onset of severe cold weather. Do not water if the temperature is below freezing.

• Group containers together. This will create added protection.

• If temperatures are going to remain extremely low for a long time, either wrap your container with bubble wrap or fill a garbage bag with newspaper (twist newspaper as you would when building a campfire) and wrap around containers.

• Winter protection should only be done after the plants have acclimated to the cold, but before danger of subfreezing temperatures.

Shown here: Benenson ornamental and dwarf conifers

For more gardening tips, visit The New York Botanical Garden.

--Sonia Uyterhoeven, garden expert, The New York Botanical Garden

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