What to Plant in the Fall for the Lushest Garden You’ve Ever Seen

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Your summer garden may be at the height of its beauty right now, but there’s still plenty of time to add plants that will extend gardening season well into fall. In fact, many flowers and edibles don’t really start to shine until autumn’s sunny days and cooler nights arrive. So, what can you plant in the fall? Annual and perennial flowers and many vegetables will keep producing all the way until a hard freeze.

Just make sure when planting perennials, which return for many years, that they can survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find your zone here). Also, most perennials need to be planted at least a month before the ground freezes in your area; if you’re not sure when that is, your local university coop extension service can offer some guidance. Finally, keep them watered during dry spells.

The 14 Best Plants with Pretty Foliage (Because Flowers Don’t Deserve All the Attention)

Curious what to plant in the fall? Here are our favorite plants:

what to plant in the fall chrysanthemum
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1. Chrysanthemum

  • Why We Love It: comes in every color, perennial if planted early in season
  • What It Needs: full sun (6 or more hours direct sunlight per day)

This iconic fall flower comes in every shade of the rainbow and makes a lovely backdrop for fall pumpkins and squashes in displays on your front porch or balcony. Technically, mums are a perennial—if you plant them in spring when their roots have time to get established before winter. However, if you plant mums in fall, when you’ll find them at garden centers and nurseries, they may not survive winter. Don’t fret! They’re inexpensive enough to treat as annuals, and you can plant new ones next year.

what to plant in the fall aster
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2. Aster

  • Why We Love It: hardy perennial, late-season favorite for pollinators
  • What It Needs: full sun

Asters are another perennial that every fall garden should have. Plant them any time in the fall about six to eight weeks before the ground freezes in your area, and they’ll provide reliable color again next year. Pollinators love these pink, purple, lavender, and white flowers which bloom around the same time as mums. Next spring, don’t be too impatient to dig up the “dead” plants; asters often don’t pop through the earth again until mid-May in many climates.

what to plant in the fall kale
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3. Kale

  • Why We Love It: easy to grow from seed, likes cooler weather
  • What It Needs: full sun

You don’t have to bid adieu to your veggie garden in fall; many vegetables, such as kale, actually prefer cooler weather. Plant kale seeds in mid to late summer for a fall harvest. Some types, such Red Russian kale, actually will overwinter in cold climates and green up again in spring for an early harvest.

what to plant in the fall baby greens
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4. Baby Greens

  • Why We Love It: fresh greens in a month
  • What It Needs: full sun

Why pay grocery store prices for baby greens when you can grow them yourself? Plant seeds of mixed greens, also known as mesclun, in late summer for a harvest in as little as 30 days. Snip off the leaves when they are just a few inches long, and the plants will keep producing to extend your harvest.

what to plant in the fall perennial herbs
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5. Perennial Herbs

  • Why We Love It: comes back year after year, ornamental and edible
  • What It Needs: full sun

Fall is a great time to plant perennial herbs, which come back year after year and thrive in either pots or planting beds. Plant herbs such as thyme, oregano, mint, and sage any time from summer to mid fall, and you’ll be able to harvest now and up until a hard freeze. In mild climates, you can pick fresh herbs for most of the winter.

what to plant in the fall black eyed susan
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6. Black Eyed Susan

  • Why We Love It: cheerful, bright yellow petals; long bloom time
  • What It Needs: full sun

These sunny-faced perennials start blooming mid-summer and go throughout early fall. Plant them anytime up to about six weeks before your area’s first frost. There are both annual and perennial types, so read the tag or plant description to be sure about what you’re buying.

what to plant in the fall garlic
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7. Garlic

  • Why We Love It: super easy to grow; fresh garlic next summer
  • What It Needs: full sun

Plant garlic in mid to late fall for a harvest next year in early to mid-summer. There are both hard neck and soft neck varieties. Hard neck types, from which you also can harvest the curly edible stems or “scapes” in June, typically are hardier in northern climates. Soft neck varieties tend to store longer. But you can plant both types of this easy-to-grow edible for plenty of garlic to last you for months.

what to plant in the fall swiss chard
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8. Swiss Chard

  • Why We Love It: gorgeous leaves with colorful ribbing, easy to grow from seed
  • What It Needs: full sun

It’s a lesser known green, but Swiss chard is a colorful edible that almost doubles as an ornamental plant due to its bright stems and pretty leaves. Plant Swiss chard in mid-summer for a late fall harvest.

what to plant in the fall radishes
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9. Radishes

  • Why We Love It: fast growing, fun for kids to grow
  • What It Needs: full sun

Radishes are one of the easiest, fastest crops you can grow. Plant the tiny seeds from late summer to early fall for a fall harvest. Some types are ready in as little as 21 days.

what to plant in the fall shasta daisy
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10. Shasta Daisy

  • Why We Love It: blooms very late in growing season
  • What It Needs: full sun

These pretty perennials bloom late in the summer to mid-fall, depending on the variety. They return year after year with a very long bloom time. Plant no later than about six weeks before the ground freezes in your area.

what to plant in the fall ornamental cabbage and kale
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11. Ornamental Cabbage And Kale

  • Why We Love It: frilly leaves and bright colors, lasts well into cold weather
  • What It Needs: full sun

Like their edible cousins, ornamental cabbage and kale are lovely cold-hardy annuals that dress up window boxes, containers and planting beds well past the first freeze. Grow them from seed starting in mid-summer or purchase transplants in September or October for fall planting.

what to plant in the fall pansies and violas
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12. Pansies And Violas

  • Why We Love It: pretty late season color can withstand light frost
  • What It Needs: full sun

Pansies and violas don’t mind the cold and will survive a light frost. These sweet-faced annuals will last most of the winter in warmer climates. They can be planted any time throughout the fall to add color to window boxes, containers and beds.

what to plant in the fall sedum
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13. Sedum

  • Why We Love It: late season food for pollinators, long-lasting blooms
  • What It Needs: full sun

Many different types of sedum exist, but the upright forms are especially pretty in autumn. They also make a great long-lasting cut flower. Plant this perennial no later than about four weeks before the ground freezes.

what to plant fall marigolds
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14. Marigolds

  • Why We Like It: sturdy, long-lasting blooms, can withstand light frost
  • What it Needs: full sun

Marigolds are one of those overlooked annuals, but it should be in your garden any time of year. It’s extremely hardy, comes in bright yellows and oranges which are amazing in fall gardens and withstands light frosts.

what to plant fall nemesia1
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15. Nemesia

  • Why We Love It: purple, pink, white or orange blooms contrast well with other autumn flowers
  • What It Needs: full sun

Nemesia boasts tiny flowers that resemble snapdragons. It also prefers cooler weather, so this annual is perfect for fall plantings to refresh pots, containers, and beds.

what to plant fall sweet alyssum
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16. Sweet Alyssum

  • Why We Love It: fragrant tiny white blooms pollinators love
  • What It Needs: full sun

Sweet alyssum is one of those annuals that lasts through the first mild frosts of autumn. Add it to window boxes or containers to refresh faded blooms. Its sweet scent is irresistible to pollinators.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...