Once the vibrant summer colors and scents fade in your garden, it is time to shift your focus to plants that bloom during the fall. The wide variety of bright summer colors is replaced by warm, earthly shades. Fall gardens invite you to drink a cup of hot cocoa while enjoying some pumpkin pie.
Nonetheless, to enjoy your dream fall garden, you need to think in advance and plant a nice selection of fall plants. Don’t worry if you don’t know which plants to choose, as we have gathered our top picks for gorgeous fall gardens. We’ve also put together some tips for caring for your fall garden. Plants have different needs each season, and what worked for your summer plants might harm your fall plants. Keep on reading to learn how to grow a perfect fall garden.
Tips for caring for your fall garden
Fall flowers are not as high maintenance as their summer sisters. While they are hardy, if you want them to thrive and reward you with rich clusters of blooms year after year, you will have to follow some simple rules.
While it is not essential to deadhead all perennials, deadheading can encourage continuous blooms. From the moment blooms start fading until they wilt completely, the plant waists energy on those fading blooms. By deadheading, you can redirect that energy into new blooms. Moreover, deadheading will also keep your garden neat throughout winter. For flowers that are unlikely to bloom again, you can cut to 15 cm off the ground.
The division is an easy way to propagate your flowers. While many gardeners prefer to do this in the spring, there are also a lot of plants that benefit from fall division. Such is the case of peonies or lilies. Fall division allows plants to recover over winter. This is more appropriate for warmer climates.
Clear the leaves
Dead leaves may look pretty, but they can be troublesome in the garden. If they gather around the base of the shrubs they will disrupt airflow and they can also be a breeding ground for various pests. However, you can use leaves as mulch for tender plants. The leaves can act as excellent winter insulation.
Work with layers and textures
Aside from choosing the right fall plants, it is important to know how to integrate those plants into your garden. Ideally, perennials must be planted in a way that complements existing trees and shrubs. Fall ornamental grasses are also a great way to add some texture to your garden.
Prepare for next year
Finally, do not forget that fall is the best time to prepare your garden for next year. As such, there are a few essential maintenance tasks that you must do. Now is the time to test and enrich your soil, pull all weeds, transplant sensitive plants indoors, and plant spring bulbs.
Best Fall Plants
Also known as Mums, these plants are by far the most gorgeous fall plants to have in your garden. Their beauty lies firstly in the outstanding number of blooms that they grow, and secondly in the intense colors of these gorgeous blooms. The most popular colours are pink, yellow, white, purple, red, and orange.
Mums can be divided into two major categories: florist mums and garden mums. Florist mums have different types of blooms. They are mostly indoor plants and will act as annuals outdoors. Garden mums are hardier. They act as perennials in USDA zones 5 to 9. To survive the winter, mums should be planted in the spring.
With adequate care (mulching, pitching, fertilization) they will survive for several years. Tor the best visual effect stick to a couple of colours and go for mass planting. Remember that mums are sun-loving plants and they need well-drained soil. Perennial mums need to be divided in the spring every couple of years.
2. Echinacea Magnus
This is a lovely fall perennial that will bloom from late summer until late fall. It can grow up to 130 cm in height, which makes it suitable for the back row of your flower beds. With a 50 cm diameter, it is wide enough to create richness, yet slim enough to allow other flowers to thrive near it. Its lovely blooms feature a massive yellowish-brown centre with flat pink petals. It is suitable fr USDA zones 4 to 9. It is a great flower to have in your garden, not only for visual effect but also for attracting bees and other beneficial insects.
This plant likes well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. It is a very hardy perennial that can live up to 5-6 years. You can grow it from seed. Simply start the seeds indoors in the spring. The seedlings should emerge after 15-20 days. Acclimatize them to outdoor conditions for about 2 weeks before transplanting them outdoors. Keep the soil moist until the plants reach maturity.
Read our Echinacea guide to learn more about this mesmerizing plant.
This bushy plant produces an abundance of colourful flowers. Its blooms resemble daisies, with golden petals with bright shades of red towards the centre. This is technically a perennial, but it is grown mostly as an annual. This happens because the number of blooms decreases significantly after the first year. To grow it as a perennial, choose the Rudbeckia fulgida Goldstrum, Laciniata Goldquelle or Laciniata Herbstsonne Golden varieties.
You can easily grow perennial varieties from seed. The seeds can be sown anytime from February to July. The seeds have a quick germination rate and the seedlings can be transplanted outdoors when they are about 10 cm tall. They are ideal for borders and beds and they can thrive both in full sun and partial shade. . For rich blooms apply some granular plant food in the spring and feed it a liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season.
Read our Rudbeckia guide to learn more about this plant.
4. Anise hyssop
If you are a fan of the liquorice scent, you will want this plant in your garden. This is an edible aromatic plant belonging to the mint family. It is suitable for USDA zones 4 to 9. It is a short-lived perennial, but it self seeds so once you have a few mature plants, you will likely enjoy this plant for many years in your garden. Its lavender leaves are filled with nectar and will attract numerous beneficial pollinators. The blooms can be used as a garnish or brewed into tea.
You can grow this plant from seed, provided that you first expose it to a cold environment. You can place them in the fridge for about 4 weeks, or you can simply sow them directly outdoors in the fall. Mature plants can be propagated through division or stem cuttings. This plant will thrive in a sunny location. It will be particularly happy if it grows in slightly acidic soil.
You can learn more about this plant from our Hyssop guide.
Few flowers offer a greater colour diversity than pansies. Even though they are short-lived, these plants are very popular. Their versatility makes them suitable for any garden design and style. Some varieties grow in mounds while others trail. They are great for borders and flower beds, but trailing varieties also make for great ground covers. They are small, low-growing flowers that reach a top height of 30 cm and an average spread of 25 cm. The best colours for a fall garden are yellow and burgundy. Bicoloured varieties are also a nice choice.
The best thing about pansies is that they can bloom in any season. You can sow the seeds anytime between February and July, but make sure to transplant the seedlings outdoors in spring, summer, or early fall. You can plant them in late spring or early summer if you want them to bloom in the fall. Pansies are susceptible to fungal diseases so they need well-drained soil. You must also be careful when watering them because you should water only the soil and not the leaves.
Asters belong to the Asteraceae family, more commonly known as the Daisy family. It is a beautiful fall perennial with star-shaped flowers. Their flowers are white, pink, purple, or blue. The flowers are rich in nectar attracting a wide variety of pollinators. They bloom from July to October.
You can grow easily grow asters from seeds, in containers, or directly outdoors. Sow the seeds in early spring, and plant them outdoors anytime from March to May. They are not pretentious when it comes to soil quality, but they do enjoy locations with partial shade. They like to be watered rigorously and frequently so avoid leaving the soil to dry out completely. If you want to propagate Asters, the best choice is to take cuttings in early spring. Learn more about propagation, watering, and planting from our Asters guide.
These lovely annuals are more commonly known as pinks due to their serrated edges that look as if the blooms have been trimmed with pinking shears. Their blooms are also preponderantly pink, although there are also some creamy white, peach, and red varieties. They are easy to grow plants that bloom from May until October, filling your garden with a lovely cinnamon fragrance. They reach a top height of 30 cm and a 45 cm spread. Their compact size makes them ideal for beds, borders, and mixed containers.
These sun-loving plants are quite low maintenance. They grow well in compost and have moderate water needs. You can grow Dianthus them from seeds, but once you have some mature flowers, you are better off propagating them through cuttings. They are rather short-lived and tend to get clumpy as they age, so you should produce new plants each spring. Learn all you need to know about these plants from our complete Dianthus guide.
The Viola is a genus that includes pansies. However, what we commonly refer to as violas differ from pansies in few ways. Pansies have 4 petals pointing upward and one pointing downward. Violas have two petals pointing upward and 3 pointing downwards. Violas also have varicoloured flowers, whereas pansies only have one colour or two colours. Viola blooms are mostly white, blue, and yellow.
You can grow them from seed as long as you plant them outdoors from May to August. They bloom from May to January. They prefer well-drained soil and partial shade. Once you have some mature plants, you can propagate them in spring through division.
The Dahlia is the national flower of Mexico. True to its native environment, it loves sunny environments, but they are very adaptable and they can grow in USDA zones 2 to 11. Dahlia flowers are peach, pink, yellow, lavender, red, and orange. They can also be bi-coloured. Dahlias have a considerable size which makes them suitable for the last row of flower beds. They can reach a top height of 1 meter with an average spread of 60 cm. They are technically summer flowers but they bloom until the end of October, and in warmer climates, they can even survive in November.
Dahlias should be planted in late spring, early summer. They need moist but well-drained soil and they will thrive if planted in a sunny yet sheltered location. They are quite hardy but they need a little maintenance. In late fall, you must dig up the Dahlia tubers and overwinter them in a frost-free location. Once you have some mature plants, you can propagate them through cuttings in May. Read our Dahlia guide to learn more about these gorgeous flowers.
10. False sunflowers
Heliopsis, also known as false or sweet sunflowers are tall perennials that bloom from late summer to mid-fall. They can reach a top height of 1,2 m with an average spread of 80 cm. They are perfect for mixed borders, but they also make for excellent cut flowers. Their beauty lies not only in their bright yellow blooms but also in their beautifully variegated leaves.
These plants prefer sunny locations and well-drained soil. You can sow the seeds directly outdoors in late summer. Sween sunflowers have moderate water needs, but they do need rich soil, so add compost regularly. To encourage rich blooms, deadhead the spent flowers at the end of fall.
As you can see, there are plenty of fall-blooming flowers that you can choose from. Let us know which of these gorgeous plants is your favourite and what other fall-blooming plants you enjoy growing.