Fall is not the end of the growing season. In most areas of the country, fall weather mimics spring with mild temperatures, plenty of mid-day sun, and more moisture than the dry summer months. Get outside and plant in early fall to enjoy the benefits this season offers to motivated gardeners.
Select flowers that are hardy, that can handle lower night-time temperatures, and that thrive in mid-day direct sun. Best bets include bushy chrysanthemums, asters, and goldenrod. Delicate, stained-glass colored pansies and violas are perfect for ground cover or in containers. Climbing autumn clematis, silvery Russian sage, happy Helenium daisy and Helianthus sunflower are more options, while toad and spider lilies are graceful additions to any fall garden.
Choose a location with good drainage that provides some shelter for the fall plant. Mums in particular like an area where roots can spread out and shrubs or trees to provide some cover from the elements. Plant as early in the fall as you can to help establish roots. Add mulch when the weather turns. Some varieties, such as snapdragons, pansies and violas, may survive the winter to provide spring or early summer blooms. With a little luck, mums and asters are perennials that should return with more blooms and foliage year after year.
Dig a hole with your trowel that will allow the plant's soil line to sit just below or level with the ground. If the plant is packed in a plastic container, squeeze the sides or push up on the bottom gently to loosen the root ball. Allow the plant to slide out into your hand. If the roots are compacted, carefully break into them with your fingers, or cut the sides of the ball with scissors. Set the plant in the hole, and fill around the roots to the top with potting soil, taking care not to leave any air pockets around the ball. Water the plant well and apply a balanced fertilizer.