Fall planters with cuttings from your yard

As the temps begin to drop, so do the front porch plants I had cared for all summer.  The shade loving annuals on my north-facing front porch were looking rather sad after a few nights of freezing temps.  So, I said goodbye and yanked out all my Begonia, Coleus, Polka Dot Plant, and Caladiums.  They looked more like wilted weeds than the beauties they once were.  However, staring at barren planters wasn’t very inviting either!  And I wasn’t ready just yet to start decorating for the holidays…  So, what do you do with planters in the early fall?  My new go-to: tree and shrub cuttings!

Saying bah-bye to summer annuals

After a few nights where the temps dipped well below freezing, my annuals looked awful!  Sure, I could have covered them with blankets to keep them from an early death.  But I’m a busy mom who just can’t keep up with all that!  

So, it was time for them to go. After clearing out all the summer annuals, I was left with concrete planters filled with nothing – just leftover potting soil.  And I struggled with what to do, because in early November I just wasn’t ready to think about Christmas decor yet.  I typically save garland and lights for December.

So what do I put in these planters?!

As it turns out, around this same time I decided to trim back some holly shrubs that were becoming quite “leggy” near my back patio. Holly shrubs benefit from a significant pruning every year to keep branches from getting long and scraggly looking. 

With my wheelbarrow full of holly shrub cuttings, the thought occurred to me that I might have just solved two problems here.

So, I took those cuttings and just stuck them right into the potting mix that was already in the planters. 

This turned out to be just what I needed to keep my front porch looking cheerful and seasonal.  To keep the holly cuttings looking fresh and healthy, I go out and mist them every few days with a spray bottle full of fresh water. 

Below are a couple of progress photos of the porch planters with holly cuttings.  You also see a begonia that I just can’t seem to part with just yet.  Also, ornamental grass cuttings in that little vase on the side table are really popular and add a soft contrast to the greenery in the planters.  Best of all, I’ve updated my porch without spending a dime!

Celebrating the holidays with a live tree?

Put your tree cuttings to good use!

If you go on a tree hunt every year, to cut down your own Christmas tree then be sure to hang on to those bottom branches you cut off.  Scour the field and pick up discarded cuttings for your planters as well!  In previous years, I had tossed those extra cuttings in the burn pile in our back yard.  But not this year!  Instead I filled my front porch with tree cuttings, giving them a festive feel.  Take a look!

raid your yard!

I chose holly to start filling the planters, because I had an abundant supply in my yard, but there are plenty of other options!  Several types of shrubs and trees benefit from a little pruning and their cuttings are long lasting – perfect for filling the gap after your summer annuals have kicked the bucket.  Below is a list of plants that would yield beautiful long-lasting cuttings:


Cutting branches from pine, spruce, and cypress trees and shrubs yields great material for filling your porch planters.  Outside in colder weather they should last a few weeks.  Plus the pinecones also could be used to add a little fall flavor to your planters.


Holly, laurel, and boxwood are great options.  Their cuttings yield a rich, green uniform look to planters.

twigs and branches

Dogwood and birch have beautiful branches and will give your planters some modern drama.  You could even spray paint fallen twigs for a really cool accent.

what's in your yard?

Have you went on a shopping trip in your own yard for cuttings to fill your planters?  Leave a comment telling us what you’ve created!

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