Grow a fabulous fall garden with these easy-care planting ideas
Summer is over and you may be tempted to put away your pruners, store the gloves and just sit back to enjoy the cooler days and beautiful autumn foliage. Not so fast — there’s plenty of time left to do a little more planting before the ground freezes!
Adding fall perennials and cool-season annuals can bring a whole new look to your borders, and many don’t require much care, so you’ll still have moments to relax and enjoy the view. We've got you covered with some easy-care fall garden planting ideas.
As temps cool, there are usually fewer fall chores anyway: You don’t need to water as much, the weeds seem to grow more slowly, and you can often stop deadheading. Many flowers hold their seedheads into fall and winter and not only look pretty, but they feed birds, too.
Add classic favorites for easy-care fall plantings
Colorful fall garden plantings often start with garden mums. They come in a broad range of colors, from rusty reds, golden yellows and bold oranges to calmer shades of salmon, pink, burgundy and lavender.
Create a traditional fall border, or shake it up with those nonconforming shades paired with blues or hot pinks. Pop ready-to-bloom garden mums in a bed as replacements for waning summer annuals. Fall-planted mums may not be reliably winter hardy, but treat them like annuals and enjoy.
Mums are just the beginning of a colorful and flower-filled fall garden. Check out these three easy-care fall combinations to give you inspiration!
Easy-care planting with tropical flair
Lavender garden mums planted en masse provide the twilight to the croton foliage’s fiery sunset-colored glow of reds, oranges and yellows of the planting above. Though both are sun-loving plants, give them extra water to get through a hot day.
Crotons love life outdoors all summer, but if you live in a region colder than zone 10, dig them up before frost and plant up into a container. Winter them over indoors in a bright and sunny south window—they make great houseplants.
A) Croton Codiaeum variegatum pictum ‘Petra’
Shrub; multicolored foliage; full sun to part shade; 3 to 4 ft. tall, 2 to 3 ft. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 10 to 12
B) Garden mum Chrysanthemum hybrid
Perennial; white, yellow, purple, orange, red, pink or lavender flowers bloom from late summer to fall; full sun to part shade; 12 to 36 in. tall, 15 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9
Fall planting with multiseason interest
Sometimes, what is left when a flower is spent is just as noteworthy as the flower itself. In the planting above, allium and Korean feather reed grass have a subtle tan hue and striking shapes that create interest even into winter, so you don’t need to deadhead the seedheads until early spring. Bluebeard’s true blue flowers keep pollinators happy in late summer and fall.
A) Bluebeard Caryopteris Le Barbe Bleue™
Shrub; clusters of blue flowers in late summer to early fall along stems of chartreuse foliage; full sun; 28 to 36 in. tall, 30 to 36 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9
B) Korean feather reed grass Calamagrostis brachytricha
Perennial; pink-tinged feathery blooms age to tan seedheads from summer through fall; full sun to part shade; 36 to 48 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9
C) Allium Allium ‘Millenium’
Perennial; rose-purple globes of flowers in midsummer aging to tan through fall and persisting through winter; full sun to part shade; 12 to 18 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8
Sedum showcase in fall
Tall sedum comes in so many forms and flower colors that it might be all you need in the fall garden. In the border above, jagged leaf texture, creamy variegation and solid traditional form differentiate three cultivars. As their flowers age, they develop shades of red and rust, drying on the plant and lingering through fall pairing perfectly with bright pumpkins and ruffly ornamental kale accents.
A) Tall sedum Sedum ‘T Rex’
Perennial; dusty rose-pink flowers in late summer to fall atop sturdy stems of scalloped leaves; full sun; 24 to 28 in. tall, 28 to 32 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9
B) Tall sedum Sedum erythrostictum ‘Frosty Morn’
Perennial; pale pink to white flowers in summer to fall on light green foliage edged in white; full sun; 24 to 36 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9
C) Tall sedum Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud’
Perennial; deep rose-purple flowers last through fall; full sun; 14 to 16 in. tall, 18 to 20 in. wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9
D) Ornamental kale Brassica oleracea
Tender perennial; blue-green ruffled foliage forms rosettes; full sun; 12 to 18 in. tall and wide; cold hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11