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Fall Garden – What to Plant?

Are you looking for ways to spruce up your fall garden but don’t know what to plant? Whether you want to grow vegetables or flowers, this post has you covered.

Here are some planting ideas that will bring you more bang for your buck with great abundance and gorgeous autumnal color.

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When Should I Start My Fall Garden?

The best time to start fall gardening in my gardening zone 6a climate to ensure it matures before the first hard frost is sometime in mid-late August depending on the temperatures.

That timeline could even be pushed back further into September if it’s hot enough because who wants to garden in the blazing heat?

Not me.

That said, August is a great time to sow cool season vegetables and start checking out your local nursery to see what they have in stock. If you plan to sow seeds, be sure to check the seed packet for the right time to get started for your hardiness zone, just like you would in spring.

raised garden beds with Vegetable garden in summer

What Are the Best Vegetables to Grow in the Fall Garden?

There are lots of hardy vegetables that can survive seriously low temps down to 20 degrees.

Try growing these vegetables that can bounce back and grow between freezes:

  • brussel sprouts
  • carrots
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • turnips
  • leeks

There are other cool season veggies to grow like lettuces, cauliflowers and some herbs like cilantro that also do well in the fall garden.

plants for fall garden that include garden mums, sedum autumn joy, celosia and pansies

What Flowers Do You Plant in Fall?

There are lots of flower options to plant in fall.

Everyone’s fall favorite is the garden mum and for me, they have their place, but are not my first choice to plant, particularly when the temperature is still pretty hot.

The Truth About Fall Garden Mums

It’s not that I don’t love garden mums.

Because I do.

But the blooms are short-lived and they can be super fussy in my gardening zone 6a garden.

(If you want to get the most out of mums in your fall garden, HERE is everything you need to know.)

To me, chrysanthemums have a place in the fall garden, but there are SO many options of other perennials that are just better for autumnal color.

So before you head to the nursery, check out these plants that will give you more bang for your buck.

9 Simple Fall Front Porch Decor Ideas

Fall Garden – What to Plant? Perennials or Annuals?

Whether you choose annuals or perennials, is entirely up to you and your fall gardening budget.

Here are some ideas to plant that are not fall mums.

The Best Annuals for Fall

There are some incredible options for annuals that do well in both containers and the garden.

Next time you visit your local nursery, take a look at the Ornamental Grasses, Ornamental Peppers, Millet, Ornamental Kale, and Winter Pansies.

Learn how to make this gorgeous container garden for fall here.

Container Gardem for Fall wiith ornamental cabbage, celosia, millet and calamint in black urn

Why You Should Plant Pansies in Fall Instead of Spring

When the temps officially cool down for the season, I love to plant Winter Pansies in the garden.

These pansies add fall color, will overwinter, and bounce back in spring.

It’s a great way to save a few bucks because you won’t need to purchase them again in spring if you plan ahead now.

So when you shop, be sure to choose colors that will not only look good in fall, but will look amazing in spring too.

Pansies

Do Pansies Come Back Every Year?

No, pansies are annuals, but they do cooler temperatures.

Since pansies do not last through the dog days of summer, you’ll get more out of them by planting them in fall.

Pro Tip: When choosing pansies, go with a color that will look equally as good in spring.

9 Simple Fall Front Porch Decor ideas

The Best Perennials for Fall Planting

While annuals provide seasonal color, I plant perennials as much as possible because they return yearly and add color without having to plant again every year.

Fall blooming perennials I love to add to for good autumn color include

  • Asters
  • Ornamental Grass
  • Japanese Anemones
  • Sedums
  • Joe Pye Weed
Dahlia 'Jowey Winnie'

Here is a great list of the best fall flowers for the garden.

While it is true perennials are a little more work than annuals because they need to be cleaned up in fall or spring and divided every now again to maintain plant health, they attract lots of pollinators including butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.

For a list of 10 easy-care, easy to grow perennial plants that butterflies love, click here.

If you plan your garden well, you can have a succession of blooms through the entire growing season.

fall garden - what to plant

Why You Need to Plant Sedum Autumn Joy

My favorite fall blooming perennial is Sedum Autumn Joy.

I know there are lots of sedums out there, but this sedum is a must-have in the fall garden.

Why?

Because it is a four season, low-maintenance plant that is super easy to propagate and find at your local nursery.

Thrifting for the Garden at the Vintage Market

Sedum Autumn Joy adds greenery to the garden in spring, color and texture with its chartreuse flower buds in summer, they produce an array of pink blooms throughout fall and the dried seed heads add winter interest.

Not to mention, I use the dried seed heads in floral arrangements and winter container plantings.

Want to increase your stock?

Dig and divide these plants or take a cutting and plant it directly in the ground – it’s that easy to propagate!

Watch the video to learn more about this amazing perennial!

YouTube video

Late Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Since fall is a great time to plant, consider adding late-flowering trees and shrubs to add fall color without the extra work of planting annuals.

Shrubs and trees help anchor smaller plants in the garden and provide interest through the changing seasons.

When I consider flowering trees and shrubs, I also look at what their foliage does in fall.

Limelight Hydrangeas and Beautyberry are the best fall garden flowers

Some late flowering trees and shrubs that I have and love are

  • Caryopteris
  • Callicarpa (can be invasive – check with your local cooperative extension)
  • Oak Leaf Hydrangea
  • Hydrangea Paniculata
  • Burning Bush (doesn’t flower but the foliage is absolutely incredible in fall – can be invasive check with your local cooperative extension).

There are many others so do your research for what grows best in your climate.

Click here to learn how to make this DIY birdhouse.

How to Build a Birdhouse

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

Want to Grow an Everblooming, Colorful Garden But Aren’t Sure Where to Start?

If you are a beginner gardener or looking to add some easy care plants and flowers to your gardens, CLICK HERE for my FREE Must-Have Plant Guide.

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Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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close up of fall garden plants sedum autumn joy, limelight hydrangea and callicarpa
close up of fall garden plants sedum autumn joy and dahlias

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9 Comments

  1. Stacy, I cannot WAIT to plant my fall garden. After a summer of alot of rain (so rare here) and hot temps, I’ve hardly been in my garden. But the magic begins soon as planting begins Sept.15. Thanks for all the inspiration. I’ve enjoyed your garden this summer.

    1. Thanks Mary! I’m really excited for fall gardening season here too. We actually had lovely temps today that were perfect for working outdoors! Can’t wait to plant stuff! xo

    1. Thank you Molly! Me too – I was waiting for it to cool down enough to get started! We are just about there in NJ! Happy labor day weekend! xo

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