1. Add bold foliage plants. Swap tired warm-season flowers for richly colored foliage plants, leaving mature evergreens and long-lasting perennials in place. For example, this sizzling container in Vancouver, Washington, relies on a mature New Zealand flax (Phormium sp., USDA zones 8 to 11; find your zone) to add height to the design, with brightly colored foliage plants providing seasonal interest.
Here, wine-red coleus, golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra, zones 4 to 9) and zingy lime-green ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas, zones 9 to 11) create a dramatic display. Although the coleus and sweet potato vine are not winter-hardy, they could be traded for coral bells or heather moving into the holidays.