10 Plants to Grow This Fall
As the weather starts to cool, take the opportunity to dig in your yard and add a few plants. Lower temps actually help plants transition easier from pot to planting bed, and lower the risk of disease problems. Here’s what to plant:
If you want flowers that bloom in spring and summer, then fall is the time for planting the bulbs. Think daffodils, tulips, crocuses, alliums and all of the lilies (Asiatic, Orienpet, Oriental, turk’s cap and martagon). Try to get the bulbs in the ground when soil temperature is about 55 degrees. In general, this happens when you no longer hear crickets at night, overnight temps stay between 40 and 50 degrees, or just after the peak of fall colors. While you are technically able to plant as long as the ground isn’t frozen, it’s best to do it during the two months directly following the first frost.
Whether planting seed or sod, cool-season grasses thrive in fall. Which grasses are cool-season? Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, as well as find fescues (red, chewing, hard, tall). In addition, fall is the perfect time to thicken your turf by overseeding cool-season lawns.
3. Cool-Season Edibles
Your supply of homegrown fresh veggies doesn’t have to end with the summer. Keep them coming by sowing seeds or transplants of cold-tolerant varieties. Depending on your location, seeds should be in the ground by early September, however, seedlings can be found at farmers’ markets and garden centers. Salad greens, such as arugula, collards, kale, spinach and lettuce are all good candidates for fall planting. Other possibilities include turnips, kohlrabi, radishes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
4. Cool-Season Annuals
Decorate those crisp autumn days and chilly nights with colorful annuals that flourish when temperatures drop. Try out these cool-weather bloomers: pansy, sweet alyssum, flowering stock, viola, lobelia and calendula. For vibrant leaves that stand out even in a light snow, consider planting cabbage or flowering kale.
Fall time is the right time to get your peonies into the ground. In fact, it’s the season when specialty nurseries have the greatest selection available and will ship bareroot peonies. When planting bareroot peonies, remember to keep them shallow — about 2 inches deep is optimal.
Although there is a long window for planting deciduous and evergreen shrubs — from early autumn until the ground is frozen — it’s best to get the plants into soil earlier rather than later in the coldest zones. That way, the fledgling roots can mature a bit before the ground freezes completely. Tip: If you’re not sure what type of shrub to plant, consider checking out the selection at a local nursery in early fall to see which ones offer the best seasonal color.
Autumn and newly planted trees are a great combination. Not only does the warm soil encourage roots to grow, but the cool air surrounding the leaves reduces the sapling’s need for moisture. Try to pick trees that provide interest throughout the year, including fall color. Trees can be planted from early fall until the ground freezes.
8. Cuttings of Delicate Plants
Before the first frost, take cuttings of plants that won’t survive the cold weather, such as scented geranium, pineapple sage, fancy-leaf begonia, plectranthus and Mexican bush sage. Either dip the cuttings in rooting hormone and place them directly into a rooting medium, or root the cuttings in water. Tip: Applying bottom heat ensures optimal rooting.
Like shrubs, it’s important to get perennials in the ground as soon as possible in fall so plants are able to establish roots before the soil freezes solid. To help prevent frost heave, be sure to mulch your newly planted perennials, especially in the coldest zones.
To achieve the best results possible, plant evergreens by mid-fall so that the roots have enough time to penetrate into the soil. In colder regions where winter burn on leaves or needles is a threat, it’s a good idea to cover newly planted evergreens (trees and shrubs) with an antitranspirant.