Fall is here, and for many of us, that means that our summer garden is winding down and phasing out. You may be thinking that once you’ve harvested your summer crops your garden will be on hold until spring, but that’s not necessarily true! You can still get the most out of your outdoor space before winter sets in by planting these cool-weather plants. Just don’t forget to check your region’s frost date to be sure you’re planting with time to spare before it gets too cold for your garden to thrive.
Many of the veggies that are perfect for a spring planting will work for a fall garden as well. These plants all prefer cooler weather and will flourish during the fall season after the worst of the summer heat has faded.
Greens and Sprouts
Spring greens and sprouts prefer cooler weather and grow quickly, so you should be able to get an extra harvest of plants like spinach, leaf lettuce, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, beans, and mustard greens before winter sets in. Many of these crops fail during summer months because the weather is too hot!
Tip: Some of these plants can produce well into winter and even endure a light frost if protected with a layer of mulch around the roots.
Fast-growing root vegetables such as radishes, beets, carrots, onions, garlic, and turnips all do well in the fall when the temperature drops because the bulk of their growth is insulated by the soil.
Tip: Make sure you take into account the growth time of vegetables being planted and get them in the ground with time to mature for harvest before the first frost date for your region.
For those gardeners who like to keep their outdoor spaces beautiful well into the colder months, these plants will thrive in the cooler temperatures and shorter light-cycles of fall days.
Some annuals that thrive in the cooler months of fall and early winter are violas, pansies, mums, sweet alyssum, snapdragon, osteospermum, dianthus, lobelia, and cornflower. If you’d like to keep your garden colorful after the heat of summer has passed, plant these lovely blooms and insulate roots with mulch to protect from cold days.
Tip: You can keep fall annuals blooming by deadheading old flowers. If you cover them with a layer of mulch before winter sets in, pansies and mums may come back in spring!
Perennials, Trees, and Shrubs
Some of the best plants to start in autumn are perennials, trees, and shrubs because the cooler temperatures and shorter light cycles ensure a focus on good root growth rather than top growth. Seeds are best started outside in mild temperatures or indoors in the fall so they are grown enough to transplant into the ground when spring arrives.
Tip: Garden hobbyists buy less plants in the fall, so perennials are usually cheaper at this time of year!
Fall is the perfect time to get a head start on planting your spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, alliums, and crocuses. These plants like to be in the ground ahead of winter so that they can get an early start on blooming once spring brings soil temperatures back up to habitable levels.
Tip: Don’t forget to plant your bulbs pointy side up.
We hope this list of cool-weather plants will help you decide what to do with your garden in these last few months before winter sets in. Fall is the perfect time to get in one last harvest, bring out final blooms, and prep plants for spring. Do you have any plans for your garden this autumn?