11 Fall Gardening Tips for Ornamental Plants

Follow these 11 steps to ensure an impressive display of flowering plants for autumn.

Autumn Joy sedum

Colorful Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ darkens from pastel pink to copper as late summer turns to fall. Beyond its clear aesthetic value, it attracts butterflies and other pollinators to the garden.

Photo by Jerry Pavia

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Main Story: Plant Fall-Blooming Flowers for Seasonal Color


1. Remove all spent flowers (or, “deadhead”) to prolong your flower garden’s bloom time into autumn.

2. Use long-blooming annuals, such as marigolds and cultivars of Geranium, Petunia, and Datura.

3. Cut back perennial asters, boltonias, and Joe-Pye weeds after their first round of summer flowers for fall blooms.

4. Choose perennials that reach their zenith in late summer and early fall, such as Ligularia, Rudbeckia, snakeroot, blue giant hyssop, and purple coneflower.

5. Grow long-blooming perennials, such as Shasta daisies, Coreopsis, and perennial sage, which bloom well into the fall. Grow ornamental kale as a fall replacement for worn-out summer plants.

6. Plant flowering plants, such as showy stonecrop, Carmichael’s monkshood, and goldenrod that start in late summer and keep going into autumn.

7. Mix colorful foliage plants, such as coleus and rex begonias into your plantings.

8. Wait until midsummer to sow or transplant annual flowers, such as California poppies, Cosmos, and cleomes, so that they’ll peak in early autumn.

9. Don’t overlook flowering vines or vibrant grasses and seedheads for added interest.

10. Be patient with tropicals that take time to mature in late summer and early fall.

11. Choose trees and shrubs, not only for their flowers and fruit, but for their colorful fall foliage.