What to Plant in the Fall

Planting isn't just a spring activity. If you're wondering what you can plant in the fall, the answer is almost anything.

Spring may be special, but fall is ideal for planting trees, shrubs, perennials, turf grass, spring-blooming bulbs and cool-season vegetables.

Fall has distinct planting benefits. Autumn's cooler air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. The soil is still warm, allowing roots to grow until the ground freezes. In spring, plants don't grow until the soil warms up.

Fall has more good days for planting than spring does, when rain and other unpredictable weather can make working the soil impossible. And there's a lot more free time for gardening in autumn than in frantic spring.

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Fall showers are generally plentiful, but it's easy to deeply water plants if it doesn't rain at least an inch per week.
Pests and disease problems fade away in the fall. You don't need fertilizer, either. Fertilizer promotes new, tender growth that can be nipped by winter weather; stop fertilizing by late summer.

 

Trees and Shrubs

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Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. The weather is cool but the soil is still warm enough for root development. Before digging, always check with your local utility companies to locate any underground lines. Always plant trees and shrubs at their natural soil lines. You should also amend around your new plant with some good organic compost to improve the nutritional value of your soil. This will also help with the water holding capacity of the soil. Keep newly planted trees or shrubs well watered until the ground freezes so they get a good start before going into full dormancy during winter. Click here for more helpful information in caring for your shrubs.

 

Perennials

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It's fine to plant perennials in the fall, especially specimens with large root systems.
Fall is a good time to divide and replant your hostas.
Peonies should be planted or transplanted in the fall. Avoid planting them too deep -- no more than 2 inches above the bud on the root -- or they won't bloom.

Late summer and early fall is a good times to plant and transplant irises too.
Chrysanthemums come into full glory by late summer and early fall, but it's not the ideal time to plant them. Garden mums do best when planted in spring so they get fully established before winter. Sadly, the big, beautiful pots of florist mums you can buy already in bloom at a garden center won't survive the winter if you plant them now.
Any fall-planted perennials should be carefully watered until the ground freezes to keep their roots healthy and strong. Don't overwater, but make sure the plants get at least 1 inch of water one time per week.

 

Turf Grass

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Fall is the best time to establish new turf grass and to do most of your lawn chores. Click here to learn more about establishing your lawn.


Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass should be fertilized in early September and again in late October or early November to give a boost for earlier spring green-up.

 

Spring Bulbs

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All spring-blooming bulbs need a period of cold dormancy to bloom. Plant bulbs in fall to ensure a beautiful spring display. If deer or other critters frequent your yard, plant bulbs they don't like to nibble, such as daffodil, crown imperial grape hyacinth, Siberian squill, allium, fritillaria, English bluebell, dog's-tooth violet, glory-of-the-snow, winter aconite, or snowdrop.

 

Pansies

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Fall is the best time to plant pansies because the still-warm soil temperatures give their roots time to establish. By planting in fall, you'll get two seasons of enjoyment out of these cool-season favorites. Remove spent flowers so the plant doesn't use its energy to set seeds, and keep the soil moist. After the soil freezes, mulch plants to prevent alternate freezing and thawing cycles that can heave plants out of the ground.

 

Cool-Season Vegetables

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Many vegetables thrive in cool weather, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, and Swiss chard.

Many fall-harvested crops should be planted in early August to give them enough time to mature. Always consult the seed packet to see how many days it takes until maturity, and count backward from your frost date to allow enough time.
Lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short maturity time can be planted later in the season. Extend the growing season by planting them under floating row covers or cold frames that will shield plants from frost but still allow light, air, and water to penetrate.

Many root crops taste sweeter when they're harvested after frost.

*This article includes content from the Better Homes & Gardens article "What to Plant in Fall" for full BH&G article click here