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What to plant in the fall

Fall is a fantastic time to plant many types of trees, shrubs, flowers, cool-weather vegetables, and ornamental landscape plants. Let’s look at some of the best plants to add to your yard this autumn.

Trees to plant in the fall

Fall is the best time of year to plant trees. Whether you’re looking for a big shade tree, an ornamental feature tree, or a tree with colorful fall foliage, most trees are quite happy to be planted in early autumn. Just try to get them in the ground about 6 weeks before the ground freezes.

1. Maple trees

Fall is the season that Maple trees shine! Maple trees are very versatile in the landscape and can be planted for privacy, shade, or as a feature, trees to show off their bright yellow and red fall leaves. Some of the most popular types of Maples to plant are the Red Pointe Red Maple, the Emperor Japanese Maple, and the Autumn Blaze Maple.

2. Fruit trees

Fall is when fruit trees shine with their colorful harvests. Prepare for future fall harvests by planting a couple of fruit trees this fall. Check out local farmers’ markets and orchards to see which fruits grow best locally (and which varieties you like the taste of). Top picks for fruit trees include Honeycrisp Apple Trees, Bartlett Pear Trees, and Redhaven Peach Trees.

3. Shade trees

Shade trees are a wonderful investment for creating a cool and shady outdoor oasis from the summer heat. There are lots of different tree species that work well as shade trees, including the Tulip Poplar, Ginkgo Biloba, Mimosa Tree, and Weeping Willow.

4. Evergreen trees

Evergreen trees provide year-round greenery in the garden, often acting as structural plants that anchor the appearance of the landscape. They also provide a habitat for numerous songbirds, including chickadees. Like most other types of trees, evergreens do best when planted in the fall. Here are some popular evergreen trees:

  • Colorado Blue Spruce
  • Eastern Red Cedar
  • False Cypress
  • Norway Spruce
Evergreen Hedge

Shrubs to plant in fall

Shrubs tend to grow best when planted in the fall. This includes everything from flowering shrubs to hedge plants. Here are some wonderful shrubs to plant this fall:

1. Burning bush

Burning Bush is a classic fall plant. Autumn is when this shrub really shines, turning from a background green color to a flaming bright red. Burning Bush plants are hardy in most of the USA and grow to 6′-10′ tall and wide when mature.

2. Hydrangea shrub

Hydrangea shrubs are one of the most popular types of flowering landscape shrubs – and for good reason! Classic Mophead Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) are typically the most popular types of hydrangea for floral bouquets, flowering in spring and summer. For fall color, Panicle Hydrangea shrubs are outstanding. They typically bloom white in the summertime, but the flowers turn a gorgeous pink shade in September. Some of the most popular panicle hydrangeas are Quick Fire Hydrangea, Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea, and Pinky Winky Hydrangea.

3. Lilac shrub

Lilac is another beautiful flower shrub to plant this fall. While most have light purple flowers, some have dark purple blooms and there are white ones available as well. The most popular is the Common Purple Lilac, while specialty varieties are becoming more common, including the Charles Joly French Lilac, Sensation Lilac, and Bloomerang Dark Purple Lilac.

4. Arborvitae

Arborvitae naturally grows upright, making them wonderful hedge plants. These low-maintenance shrubs provide year-round interest and are commonly used around the perimeter of properties to provide privacy and shade. Many of the newer cultivars are resistant to pests and disease. Some of the most popular types include Thuja Green Giant, Emerald Green Arborvitae, and North Pole® Arborvitae.

5. Hedging yew

Yew is another evergreen shrub that makes a fantastic hedge. There are many types of yew available, but the most popular hedging yew is the Hicks Yew. These evergreen shrubs have a tidy, upright form. They also have the ability to sprout new stems off old wood, meaning they tend to fill in nicely after harsh pruning or other damage.

Planting flowers in the fall

Flowers to plant in the fall

Many types of flowers can be planted in the fall. Most perennials grow very well when planted in the early fall. There are also several fall-favorite annual flowers that can be added to the garden just in time for autumn.

1. Fall-planted bulbs

Many flower bulbs perform best when planted in autumn. These bulbs are planted around October in many climates, and often flower in early spring. Fall-planted bulbs include crocus, daffodils, allium, tulips, bluebells, hyacinths, and Muscari.

2. Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums, or “mums”, are beautiful, classic autumn flowers that are wonderful to plant in the Fall. If you plant them quite early on in the autumn months, they are more likely to survive the winter in mild zones (some types of mums are more cold-hardy than others). Chrysanthemums come in pink, red, orange, yellow, and white, so they are a great flower to use to brighten up and add some extra color to your garden.

3. Black-eyed Susan

Black-Eyed Susan plants are great flowers to plant in the early fall. These cute flowers are shaped like daisies but have cheery yellow petals and black centers. Black-Eyed Susans are great if you like bees and butterflies because they are popular among pollinators. Popular cultivars include Little Goldstar Black-Eyed Susan and Deamii Black-Eyed Susan.

4. Celosia

Celosia is a very durable plant and is very easy to care for, so it is a great flower to plant early in the fall season. They can be found in yellow, orange, red, and burgundy-purple, so they will add some needed color to your garden once summer starts to wind down. Celosia plants are not cold-hardy and are grown as annual plants in most zones. Celosia is easy to grow from seed.

5. Aster

Asters are great flowers to plant in the early fall if you want to ensure that bees and butterflies have enough pollen as winter approaches. Bees and butterflies love aster flowers, and they have a harder time finding pollen during the fall and winter months. These blooms can be found in purple, pink, white, and blue varieties, so they will add a lot of color to your fall garden.

6. Dianthus

Dianthus is a great flower to plant early on in the fall because they often bloom in mild temperatures. They can be found in white, pink, purple, red, and yellow shades. These beautiful flowers smell wonderful and any fall rain showers will strengthen the smell.

7. Pansy

Pansy flowers are a great flower to plant in early fall as well. They can be found in almost every color, so they will definitely add some needed color to your garden. Pansies are easily found at your local garden center, so you won’t have to wait very long for them to bloom if you purchase pansies that have already been planted and have established roots.

8. Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum is a wonderful flower to plant in the fall because it blooms during the fall and mild winter months. They also do well with the low-sunlight conditions of fall and will grow well in partial shade (although they can get a bit leggy). They have a wonderful fragrance and will add color to your fall garden.

9. Viola

Violas are also great flowers to plant in this time frame. The blooms are very dainty, but they will stand up to rain and light snowfalls. They can be found in almost every color, so you can find any color you’d like to match your style.

Vegetables to plant in the fall

Many cool-weather vegetables can be planted in the early fall for a late fall harvest, or to overwinter for an early spring treat. Some particularly hardy veggies can be grown as winter crops, although they may need a wintertime cover like a cold frame. Make sure to plant them before it is cold enough for the soil to freeze.

1. Carrots

Carrots are a great vegetable to plant in the Fall. Although you will not likely be able to see results until early winter or the spring, carrots can be planted in cool soil.

2. Lettuce

Lettuce is a great vegetable to plant in the fall because it can survive harsh winter temperatures. As long as the soil is soft and able to be planted in, you can plant lettuce. Lettuce will allow you to eat something healthy without having to go to the store, which is great for when you want to stay inside during the colder months of the year.

3. Spinach

Spinach is a great vegetable to plant in the fall. Like lettuce, it can withstand harsh winter temperatures, which makes it a great vegetable to plant in the fall if you still want to have a vegetable garden during the colder months. It is also very healthy to eat.

4. Kale

Like spinach and lettuce, kale is a great vegetable to plant during the early fall season and is very good for you. Kale is a strong enough vegetable to withstand cold winter temperatures, which means that your pursuits for a vegetable garden will not be in vain during the fall and winter. Leafy vegetables generally do well in these cooler temperatures.

5. Radish

Radish is a great vegetable to plant in the early fall because you are likely to see the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor before the colder weather begins which makes it hard for them to grow. Radishes only take about 30 days to grow from a seed to a full radish, so it won’t be long before you are able to eat and enjoy your radishes.

6. Turnips

Turnips are a great (and very popular) vegetable to plant in the fall. If you plant them during the late summer or early fall, then they will be ready to eat before the winter sets in and the soil freezes. Many types of turnips only take 40-55 days to fully grow.

7. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great vegetable to plant during the early fall season. Broccoli requires cool temperatures to grow which is one of the reasons why it is such a great vegetable to plant in autumn. it takes about 50-55 days for Broccoli to be ready to eat after planting, so it is best to plant it early on in the fall season if you want to be able to eat it before winter starts.

8. Beets

Beets are a great vegetable to plant in the fall because they tolerate cold temperatures very well, which is great if you live in an area that has colder fall temperatures. They also need to grow in constantly moist soil, which means that they will grow well if you live in an area that is rainy and has milder temperatures.

9. Onions

Onions are great vegetables to plant early on in the fall season because they take a long time to grow. If you plant onions in the fall, you will see the results in the early spring months, after the winter snow has melted and the soil has softened. However, you must plant the onions early on in autumn because the roots need time to grow and strengthen before the soil freezes in the winter temperatures.

what to plant in the fall - turf grass

More ideas for what to plant in the fall

There are a few other plants that do well when planted in the autumn months. Here are some long-lasting ornamentals to plant this fall.

1. Turf grass

Early autumn is the best time to seed new lawn grass or install new turf sod. The heat of summer is over, but the grass plants still have 6-8 weeks to develop roots before the ground freezes for winter. Here are some of the best types of grass seeds to plant.

2. Garlic

Fall is the perfect time to plant garlic. Areas with snowy winters tend to plant garlic in September, while climates with cooler winters can plant their seed garlic cloves in October or November. Give the planted cloves lots of water to help them settle in and start to grow roots into the surrounding soil before it freezes. Read more about how to grow garlic.

Make sure to look for seed garlic at the farmers market in the fall!


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