What to Plant in the Fall: The Best Plants for Fall Gardening

Summer may be coming to an end, but autumn is a great time for gardening! There are so many perennial plants, annual flowers, garden vegetables, trees, and shrubs that thrive when planted in the cooler fall weather. Not to mention, now is the perfect time to start thinking about swapping out tired and spent summer annuals for some fresh and vivacious fall flowers! Here are some ideas for plants that you can add to your flower gardens, porch pots, veggie gardens, and landscaping that will look amazing and grow wonderfully throughout the fall season.


The Best Flowers for Fall Planting

There are certain varieties of flowers that prefer and actually thrive in cooler weather! For some flowers, the intense heat of the summer is just too much for them to handle. The fall season provides the perfect environment for annual and perennial plants such as these, giving them the sun they need while not overwhelming them with 100-degree weather. Plant these flowers as soon as the weather begins to cool down for beautiful color throughout the fall season!


Pansies and Violas

Pansies and violas are extremely popular annual flowers. They are bright, happy, and come in a large range of colors! These delicate little plants grow best in cooler temperatures, making them ideal for early spring and late fall. Also known as Johnny Jump Ups, these plants are perfect for your flower beds, hanging baskets, and porch pots. If you want to know more about pansies and how to care for them, check out our blog: How to Grow Pansies and Violas.


Chrysanthemums (Mums)

Chrysanthemums are perhaps one of the most popular perennial flowers of the fall season. You can plant them in the ground or keep them in containers, and they come in a plethora of colors that are sure to spruce up your outdoor décor. Mums often continue blooming even when other plants are on the decline for the season, giving you color that lasts as long as possible. If you are interested in growing mums, check out our extensive blog on How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums!

Rudbeckia

Also known as Black-Eyed Susans, rudbeckia is a beautiful perennial flower that has bright yellow leaves with a deep brown center, resembling sunflowers. Some varieties have some slight color variations, however, they are most commonly yellow. Once established, these plants tolerate heat and drought very well, making them ideal for our arid environment! Learn more about rudbeckia by using our Plant Finder tool!


Hardy Hibiscus

Hardy hibiscus goes by many common names, two of which are Rose Mallow and Rose of Sharon. These shrub-like perennials don massive blooms that range in color from dark red to pink to white and sometimes multicolor. While these perennial plants are commonly grown as flowering shrubs, they are technically herbaceous perennials. For carrying the appearance of a delicate tropical plant, they are actually very hardy and are relatively easy to grow and care for. To learn more about hardy hibiscus and all the different varieties that grow well in Colorado, check out our Plant Finder!


Asters

Asters are fantastic in the fall, displaying vibrant colors ranging from pink to purple, blue, and white. Their delicate petals form a starburst shape and resemble clusters of small daisies. They are fantastic flowers for pollinators, are low-maintenance, require very little care, and are perennials, so you will get to enjoy them year after year! Their long-lasting blooms are sure to bring you joy throughout the entire season. Learn more about how to plant and grow asters with our Plant Finder tool!


Plumbago

In its natural habitat, plumbago is actually a shrub and is capable of growing quite large! Their branches resemble vines and feature a profuse amount of baby blue flowers that bloom for extended periods of time. The flowers look similar to phlox, being dainty and blooming in clusters. In addition to their flowers, their foliage is also a spectacle in the fall, turning bright red and contrasting wonderfully with the little blue flowers.


Porcelain Vine

This beautiful vine has a very unique appearance with its variegated, oak-like foliage attached by stems that are a bright magenta-pink color. It grows best in part shade and produces berries that are varying shades of purple, blue, and white. This vine is a fun option for fall planting as it will bring color to any area.


Ornamental Kale and Cabbages

While these aren't technically a flower, ornamental cabbages and kales are such a fun and popular addition to fall flower arrangements! Add them to your porch pots, fall flower beds, pumpkin displays, and more. They are easy to grow, love the cool temperatures of the fall season, and provide lovely color and texture wherever they are planted.


Cool Crop Veggies

There are plenty of garden vegetables that have short growing seasons and actually perform better in cooler temperatures. These cool-season crops include things like lettuce, spinach, chard, radishes, and so much more! Around the middle of August is the perfect time to start planting your seeds, or you can wait a little longer and pick up some vegetable starts from your local Fort Collins Garden Center! Find more information on what vegetables you can plant in our blog on planting a fall garden!


Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as chard, spinach, and lettuce are great garden vegetables for a late-season crop. They thrive in cooler temperatures and have a short maturity period, making it so that you can get a whole second crop before freezing temperatures roll in.


Radishes

Radishes are another great option. They like cool weather and taste better when not grown in the heat of the summer. They can tolerate a light frost since they are root vegetables, and they mature quickly, ensuring a delicious harvest in as little as three weeks!


Broccoli

Broccoli is also an excellent option for fall gardening. While it has a slightly longer maturity period compared to the vegetables mentioned above, it is frost tolerant making it able to grow later into the fall season. Broccoli generally tastes best when allowed to grow and mature during cooler temperatures, so give it a try!


Trees and Shrubs

Fall is also great for planting trees! So, if you wanted to plant a tree this spring but didn't quite get around to it, now is the time! Planting trees in the fall helps avoid a new planting having to deal with the intense heat of the summer, while also giving the tree enough time to begin to establish itself before the ground freezes for the winter. Plant at the end of summer when the temperatures begin to cool down to give your new tree or shrub the best chance of making it through the winter season, and don't forget to winter water! Check out our Tree & Shrub Planting Guide for all you need to know about planting trees.


Maple Trees

One of our favorite types of trees for fall planting is maple trees! They come in many different varieties and have some of the most vibrantly colored leaves. So, if you are looking for a tree to plant for some lovely fall color, don't wait! Pick out a maple tree and get it in the ground today!


Fat Albert Colorado Spruce

Spruce trees are definitely a favorite evergreen for many throughout Colorado! Their bright blue needles emerge in the spring and darken to a deep forest green near the end of the season. This variety of spruce trees has a girthy, well-shaped, pyramidal form and they do not require staking or training after planting, making them a great, easy option for fall planting!


Bur Oak Tree

This slow-growing deciduous tree features deeply ridged, furrowed bark and lobed, dark green foliage. It makes for an excellent shade tree in the summer and displays beautiful amber colors throughout the fall season. Fall is a great time for planting Bur oak trees as the cooler weather allows them to establish strong roots without being under the intense stress of the summer heat.


Red Wealthy Apple Tree

The fruit of this apple tree is juicy and delicious with a slight hint of strawberry. It is a compact variety that produces an exceptional number of blooms that last for a long period of time, making it also great for attracting pollinators! Due to the number of blooms, this apple tree also bears a heavy harvest. Its hardiness also makes it perfect for our cold Colorado winters.


Hairy Mountain Mahogany

This shrub is native to the Southwest and has quite a unique look! It features small, narrow, gray-green foliage and inconspicuous, white flowers. Once the flowers have finished blooming, they produce fuzzy, twisted seed tails in the fall. This xeric option is great for yards and landscapes throughout Colorado!

Mock Bearberry Manzanita

The Mock Bearberry Manzanita is a shrub with dense foliage that has a horizontal growth pattern. The bright green leaves have an oval shape, and pink or white flowers bloom in late spring, followed by red berries in the fall. Once established, this shrub is drought tolerant and low-maintenance.


What Plants are Best for Fall Gardening?

If you have any questions about the best flowers to plant in the fall, questions regarding tree and shrub planting, or any questions about how to grow your cool-season vegetables, please reach out to us! We are happy to answer any questions and help with your decision-making process in any way we can. Come into the Garden Center, give us a call, or fill out a form on our website. We look forward to assisting you in any way we can!

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