fall flowers and pumpkins on porch area

15 Fall Plants To Enhance Your Autumn Garden

Mary Grace Schmid6-Minute Read
August 17, 2022

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Autumn brings vibrant leaves, cozy weather and preparation for winter. While the fall may seem like it would not be the ideal time for gardeners, the colorful foliage of the season can be a part of your own garden! With milder weather and fewer insects, investing in a fall garden can benefit your landscaping plans for the entire year. There are plenty of plants that thrive during these months, so don’t put your gardening tools away just yet.

Best Plants For Fall

There are a variety of plants that you can plant for the fall season. Ideally, you’ll want to start planning for your autumn garden in late spring or early summer, as you’ll want the plants to grow during the fall months. Some fall plants peak in the middle of summer and others will bloom when the first frost rolls around. Perennials, flowers, vegetables and even wild grasses are some fall flowering plants that can fit right in to your front- and backyard landscaping.

1. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums, or “mums,” are an autumnal favorite for a reason. Mums come in a variety of rich colors, from deep reds, oranges, purples to bright yellows. Mums are perennials that are best planted in the spring, allowing them time to grow and establish a strong root system that will help them survive the winter and flourish in your garden year after year.

Be sure to set these beauties in indirect light and provide a consistent watering schedule throughout the fall. If there are wilting buds, trim them off to keep the plant healthy.

2. Asters

Asters

Best planted in the spring or fall, asters are perennials that can shine in any autumn garden. With its rich purple coloring, daisy-shaped flowers and late-season nectar, asters flower during the shorter days of fall and can hold their own throughout the year. Asters require full sun exposure and need adequate spacing from other plants for its roots.

3. Dahlias

dahlias

These intricate flowers come in all sorts of colors and typically bloom from the middle of summer through fall. Dahlias will provide your garden with much-needed brightness as much of your other foliage wilts or heads into hibernation.

However, long-lasting dahlias can require a lot of upkeep due to their intolerance of the winter months. To keep dahlias as perennials, you’ll need to carefully dig up the tubers and store them during winter. Or you can choose to treat these flowers as annuals, purchasing and planting new ones each season.

4. Cornflowers

Cornflowers

Cornflowers have brilliant, bright blue petals and can be planted in both the spring and fall. This daisy-like flower thrives in similar conditions as corn; therefore, it was given its name as cornflower. While they do require full sun access, they can tolerate freezing temperatures and drought conditions.

5. Sunflowers

Sunflowers

While sunflowers are often associated with the summer season, they continue to grow even as the weather cools. These bright yellow flowers typically bloom in late summer and early fall, all while attracting pollinators and being resistant to pests. They will need a sunny spot with well-draining soil for ideal growth.  

6. Pansies

Pansies

Pansies have unique patterns on their leaves, making them a standout addition to your autumn garden. These flowers love the cooler weather and can be planted in the fall. With the proper care, they’ll bloom through the fall and into the winter, depending on your climate. It’s even possible to overwinter them and get them to bloom again in the spring. Keep in mind that pansies like full or partial sunlight but need the cooler temperatures to survive. Try to plant them in an area where they will only receive the morning sun.

7. Cannas

Cannas

Cannas’ bright colors and decadent leaves can add some tropical flare to your fall garden. With bursts of red, orange, pink and yellow, Cannas can bloom from late spring to the fall. To thrive, they will need moist soil and direct sunlight. While Cannas do bloom in the fall, they cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

8. Goldenrods

Goldenrods

Goldenrods can be considered more of a weed than a wildflower but is in fact in the same family as daisies and sunflowers. This herbaceous plant blooms in midsummer through fall and is even drought tolerant. Goldenrod is also favorite among pollinators and generally require little maintenance.

If you deal with seasonal allergies and are wary of goldenrods, don’t fret. The pollen on these plants is too heavy to be spread by the wind.

9. Hardy Fuchsias

Hardy Fuchsias

If you’re a fan of fuchsia flowers, hardy fuchsias are perennials that bloom in both the spring and fall. Its red and purple dangling blossoms do not thrive in the heat, so they will need partial shade. Be aware that some areas may consider hardy fuchsias to be invasive, so check with your local extension office prior to planting.

10. Marigolds

Marigolds

The orange and yellow layers of marigolds are the perfect autumnal pop for any outdoor space. These gorgeous flowers bloom in the spring, summer and fall and attract butterflies. With daisy- or carnation-like flowerheads, marigolds offer both color and dimension to your garden. Marigolds need plenty of sunlight to prevent powdery mildew.

11. Staghorn Sumacs

Staghorn Sumacs

With red berry clusters and long leaves, staghorn sumacs are perfect to add your garden for a colorful burst. They are low maintenance and can be planted in the spring or fall. While they typically bloom in the summer, their foliage turns even more vibrant with orange and red hues in the fall. These plants are expansive and grow extremely fast, so they will need plenty of space to spread out. To prevent staghorn sumac from getting out of hand, prune frequently.

12. Sedums

Sedums

Sedums are succulent plants that grow in the summer and then burst into a deep pink or red in the fall. It’s a heat- and drought-resistant plant and its wide leaves attract butterflies. As a perennial plant, sedums are easy to maintain and can even grow in shallow soil and shade.

13. Zinnias

Zinnias

Another colorful selection for your garden, zinnias are one of the easiest flowers to grow. They grow quickly, have a full bloom, can produce flowers through the first frost and come in a variety of colors. They are annuals, so they will only grow for one season. If you want to plant zinnias in your yard, choose a location that receives plenty of sun and has good air circulation.

14. Celosias

Celosia

If you love a bright, colorful garden, celosias are the perfect plants to incorporate into your fall planting. Celosia comes in several different varieties, from plumed to wheat to cockscomb. They are low-maintenance plants but do prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Since these plants bloom all season long, they can add a beautiful pop of color to any landscaping space.

15. Ornamental Kale

ornamental kle

Sometimes referred to as ornamental kale, flowering kale and regular kale are the same species. However, flowering kale was bred to be ornamental and has a bitter flavor. With a name of “flowering kale,” this plant does not keep up with its title as they rarely put out real flowers.

But this hardy plant turns into a beautiful leafy, purple plant that can hold onto its color even into the winter months. You’ll need to wait until midsummer to start these seeds, as they don’t tolerate heat well but require minimal care in the cooler months.

How To Prepare Your Garden For Fall Flowering Plants

Just like any other plant, fall flowering plants require care and patience. To prepare your garden or yard for fall plants, keep the following points in mind while planning your gardening layout.

  • Gather gardening tools. Just like any other season, you’ll need an assortment of tools to get you through plant maintenance. A shovel, rake, gloves and watering can will come in handy while tending to your fall plants. Fall is also a great time to prune your trees, so an extendable tree trimmer will come in handy for that task. Don’t forget a leaf blower for those big leaf cleanups!
  • Prepare soil for planting. To prep your soil for new plants, start by removing and replacing mulch if needed. Loosening up compacted soil, making any soil adjustments and digging weeds will help your fall plants thrive throughout the season.
  • Collect or purchase seeds and bulbs. This may include gathering seeds from heirloom plants and purchasing new flowers or plants to grow. 
  • Hire a professional landscaper. If planning and prepping for fall plants seems like a daunting task, hiring a landscaping professional instead of planting a fall garden DIY-style may be the right path for you. They’ll be able to evaluate your outdoor space, climate and needs in order to create a perfect autumnal oasis in your own yard.

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The Bottom Line

Fall, despite being a cooler season, presents gardeners with plenty of opportunities for gorgeous blooms. While planning ahead for your front- and backyard landscapes, many of the plants that thrive in the fall also contribute to a healthy, long-lasting garden that inspires and impresses. With the listed tips and plants above, there’s something for everyone to incorporate into their autumnal outdoor spaces.

Looking to revamp your outdoor space for the autumn season? Explore popular fall front porch ideas to take your fall celebrations to the next level.

Mary Grace Schmid

Mary Grace Schmid is a staff writer covering homeownership, personal finance and lifestyle topics. She has a B.A. in public relations from Baylor University with a minor in political science and enjoys photography, music and reading in her free time.