Home & Garden Garden 15 Native Fall Flowers for Pots Extend your gardening season with these gorgeous blooms. By David M. Kuchta David M. Kuchta Writer Wesleyan University, University of California, Berkeley David Kuchta, Ph.D. has 10 years of experience in gardening and has read widely in environmental history and the energy transition. An environmental activist since the 1970s, he is also a historian, author, gardener, and educator. Learn about our editorial process Published September 20, 2022 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images Home & Garden Planting Guides Indoor Gardening Urban Farms Insects Fall is an excellent time of year for container gardening. The reason? As the days get shorter, containers can be moved to follow what remains of the sunshine. These flowers can sit on a porch or stoop to take advantage of the light and heat reflected off a building. You can also move your pots into a cold frame at night to give them a few more weeks of life, or bring them indoors to sit out the winter. An added bonus: Plants in containers will not spread all over the garden, putting you as the gardener in total control over the appearance of your outdoor space. Here are 15 fall flowers for pots and expert tips for making your flowering season last. 1 of 15 Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) Willowpix / Getty Images Place your container of anise hyssop near an open window, since its flowers smell like licorice or basil. Their nearly foot-long spikes bloom from June to late September, attracting hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. While the plant can grow from 2 to 4 feet tall, its strong stems and shrub-like structure allows the spikes to stand on their own without staking. Dry out the flowers to add to potpourris or use the cut flowers in arrangements. USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 10Sun Exposure: full sun or very light shadeSoil Needs: well-draining soil Treehugger Tip There are a number of excellent pots and containers available online. But anything that can contain soil can serve to grow flowers. Re-purpose milk cartons, cardboard boxes, a child's pail or wagon, a shoe caddy, single-use grocery bags, coffee mugs, kitchen pots or pans, old boots, cinder blocks, a wheelbarrow, birdbath, paint cans, bicycle basket, car tires. Sterilize the container first with a 10% bleach solution. Be sure your container has holes in the bottom for drainage—this will help to avoid root rot. If it doesn't, use a power drill to drill 1-5 holes, depending on the container size and holes. 2 of 15 Purple Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata) Valeriy Lushchikov / Getty Images Purple poppy mallow grows in mounds 6 to 9 inches tall, with gorgeous, cup-shaped flowers resembling poppies. They will produce flowers from mid-spring through early fall. In a milder climate, they will remain evergreen, where their palmate leaves provide winter interest. Plant them at the edge of a container and let them trail over the side. USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: dry to medium, well-draining soil 3 of 15 Mace Sedge (Carex grayi) agatchen / Getty Images Mace sedge (or grey sedge) is a grass rather than a flowering plant, but you'd never know it from the fruits it produces. Its spike-like seedheads look like a medieval mace, which remain intact from early summer into winter, when the seeds provide food for birds. Growing 2 to 3 feet tall, mace sedge is a distinctive addition to a container garden. USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9Sun Exposure: full sun or very light shadeSoil Needs: well-draining soil 4 of 15 White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) Karel Bock / Getty Images White turtlehead is a tough plant whose snapdragon-like (or snapping turtle mouth-like) blooms attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Pinch the stems back in spring to prevent it from getting lanky and requiring staking. White turtlehead will bloom from late summer into October. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8Sun Exposure: part sunSoil Needs: moist, well-draining soil of any type Treehugger Tip Used by itself, garden soil compacts too easily and doesn't drain as well. Either add vermiculite (a naturally occurring, non-toxic mineral) to the soil or use a lightweight, organic potting mix instead. Remember that potting soil has no nutrients, so add a 1-2 inch layer of organic compost/mulch to help retain moisture. 5 of 15 Twisted Shell Flower (Chelone Obliqua) Anton Nikitinskiy / Getty Images Also known as purple turtlehead, twisted shell flower will attract pollinators. It can grow up to 3 feet tall and require staking, though it too can be pinched back in spring. Deadhead the flower spikes to produce new blooms well into October. Its foliage is also long-lasting and attractive. USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9Sun Exposure: full sun to part shadeSoil Needs: moist but well-draining soil 6 of 15 Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images As its botanical name suggests, sneezeweed is a fall bloomer. But its common name is deceptive, as sneezeweed does not make you sneeze. (It used to be dried and made into a snuff.) Unlike ragweed, which is pollinated by the wind (which causes allergies in many people), sneezeweed is pollinated by insects. Keep the plant away from pets, however, as it produces a substance that can be toxic to them. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: average, medium to moist soil 7 of 15 Purple-head Sneezeweed (Helenium flexuosum) John Law / Getty Images Purple-head sneezeweed produces a distinctive seedhead that might be mistaken for a black-eyed Susan. Growing 1 to 3 feet tall, purple-head sneezeweed can be pinched back in mid-spring to reduce the plant's height and encourage it to branch out instead, which will produce more flowers. Deadheading the flowers will also encourage more blooms. As with Helenium autumnale, keep the plant away from pets, however, as it produces a substance that can be toxic to them. USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: rich, medium to moist soils Treehugger Tip When planting companion plants together in the same container, arrange them according to their soil, water, and sun needs, and put the taller plants near the back of your container so that they don't shade out the shorter ones. Follow the "thriller-spiller-filler" rule. 8 of 15 Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) Chris Burrows / Getty Images Blooming from late summer to fall over roughly a six-week period, Maximilian sunflower can grow tall enough to need staking. Its yellow flowers are popular with butterflies and bees, and once it finishes blooming, birds will feast on its seeds. They are fast-growing, which is especially beneficial if your growing season is short. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: prefers moist, clay-like soil, but can grow in well-draining soil of all types How to Grow Gorgeous Sunflowers: Plant Care Tips 9 of 15 Western Sunflower (Helianthus occidentalis) Morshed Alam / Getty Images Western sunflowers produce an abundance of showy yellow flowers attracting to butterflies. Birds will eat the seeds directly from the seedheads. Western sunflowers grow 2 to 4 feet tall. They will spread through rhizomes and easily fill a garden space, so keep them in containers if you want to keep them under control. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: average, well-draining soil 10 of 15 Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) emer1940 / Getty Images Garden phlox are a late-season show-stopper in many gardens, and their large flower heads make good centerpieces in any container garden. Cultivars come in a wide range of colors, including bicolor blooms. Garden phlox form 2 to 3-foot clumps that can grow up to 4-feet tall and may need staking. USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: average to rich, well-draining soil Treehugger Tip Give your plants room to grow in your containers. A too-crowded pot means the plants are competing with each other for water and nutrients, which can lead to less-than-peak performance, the growth of powdery mildew, or rot. 11 of 15 Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) yunyong1984 / Getty Images The bicolor (purple and white) flower spikes of Mexican bush sage can bloom from late summer to the first frost. Like many other show-stoppers, it can grow tall (4 to 6 feet) and may need support in a container. It's a perennial, not a bush, and will die back once frost hits. Unless you live in a warm climates, it's not likely to come back in the spring, but at least it will attract butterflies and hummingbirds while it's around during a time of year when the food supply is dwindling. USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: average, evenly moist, well-draining soil 12 of 15 New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) BasieB / Getty Images New England asters are famous fall bloomers. They brighten up any container garden with abundant, daisy-shaped flowers, but they can grow to 6 feet tall, so they may need staking. Alternatively, you can pinch them back in mid-spring early summer by snipping off the growing tips and first sets of leaves with your fingers. Deadhead any spent blooms to promote additional flowering. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 7Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: rich soil of any type 13 of 15 New York Aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii) Elena Zakharova / Getty Images Also known as Michaelmas Daisies, New York asters are a good substitute for non-native chrysanthemums. Unlike New England asters, New York asters do not need staking, as they will grow from 1 to 4 feet tall. They will produce abundant heads of purple flowers that can last for months. Beloved by pollinators. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8Sun Exposure: prefers sun but can bloom in semi-shadeSoil Needs: well-draining soil, even poor soil Treehugger Tip The soil in containers tends to drain more quickly than in a garden, which is more likely to have been compacted by people walking on it. If you stick your finger in the soil and it feels dry, it's time to water. 14 of 15 Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium) Salomatin / Getty Images Aromatic asters will begin blooming in August into late September or early October. Growing 1 to 2 feet tall, they are often used as a ground cover, but they can fill a pot nicely with fragrant, showy daisy-like flowers that attract butterflies. They also makes a good cut flower. USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: rich, well-draining soil, tolerates poor soil and drought 15 of 15 Woolly Vervain (Verbena stricta) randimal / Getty Images Woolly vervain works best in a container as it is a vigorous spreader that easily self-sows in a garden. Deadhead the flowers to prevent self-seeding. It blooms from late spring to fall, opening from the bottom of its spikes upwards. Its purple flowers are favorites with butterflies and bees. USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 7Sun Exposure: full sunSoil Needs: average, dry to medium moisture in well-draining soil View Article Sources "List of Plants Reported to Be Poisonous to Animals in the United States." University of California, Davis - Weed Research and Information Center.