How to Plant an Autumn Garden


With a little careful planning, your garden can be a blooming showcase from spring through late fall. There are many plants that prefer to bloom in cool weather. In addition to blooming plants, use shrubs or small trees that hold their fruits into winter, along with other varieties of plants that have interesting or intense fall color. All of these will contribute to the beauty of your autumn garden.

Step 1

Plant annuals that bloom in cooler weather in late summer to early fall. Examples include asters, pansies and violas. Plant them in late spring or early summer after the soil has warmed up among summer-blooming annuals. Their foliage will provide an accent to other plants during summer and they will break into bloom when the hot-weather-loving annual flowers begin to fade in cool fall temperatures.

Step 2

Plant perennials that bloom in fall, such as autumn sedum, hardy mums, helenium and toad lily. Plant summer-blooming perennials or annuals among these fall-blooming perennials for color throughout the growing season. When fall arrives, these perennials will assume the starring role in the garden bed.

Step 3

Plant vegetables that are hardy and have interesting leaf colors or textures, such as ornamental cabbage, ruffled-leaf kale and garlic chives (which bloom in fall, unlike regular chives). These cool-weather-loving vegetables will most likely outlast blooming perennials when freezing weather arrives.

Step 4

Plant small shrubs or trees that show intense fall color, or produce berries or fruits that stay on the plants into winter. Some examples are sumac for the intense red of its leaves in fall, roses that produce rose hips, and crab apple trees that do not drop their fruits when cold weather arrives.

Step 5

Grow perennial ornamental grasses. Many varieties produce large seed heads that rise above the leaves and stay on the plants well into winter. Their fall colors of tans and browns work well with the colors of the season.

Step 6

Grow winter squash, pumpkins and ornamental gourds. Their vines will wither when cold weather arrives, but their fruits are much hardier and can be randomly placed in the garden for decoration among fall-blooming plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Seed catalogs

Who Can Help

  • Penn State Agricultural Pointers: Fall-Blooming Perennials
  • University of Illinois Extension: Ornamental Grasses
Keywords: plant an autumn garden, perennials for autumn bloom, fall garden