Plant in Fall for Spring Color


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Ahhh….fall is here. Even though temperatures in the Midwest have remained unusually high, it’s time for gardening tasks that mark the end of the growing season.

Prepare a cup of herbal tea and read through these planting tips. This is the perfect time of year to plan for next year. Plant in fall, for spring color!

Plant in Fall title meme

Why Plant in Fall?

There are several reasons for prepping now for a colorful spring:

  •  Fall has more mild days for working in the garden, compared to spring when temperatures can still fluctuate wildly from day to day.
  •  Rainfall is typically plentiful enough that you don’t need to water as often.
  •  The soil is still warm, which encourages roots to grow and become established.
  •  Weeds are dying down, meaning there is less competition for nutrients in the soil.
  •  There are fewer pests to cause damage to bulbs and plants and less likelihood of disease.
  •  Fertilizer isn’t needed. It encourages new growth, which isn’t what we want at this time of year.

Plant about six weeks before the first hard frost. In the Midwest, that’s toward the end of November, making October perfect for planting. Check out your zone on this map.

Plant in Fall Daffodils
Daffodils are one of the first flowers to appear in spring.

Bulbs to Plant in Fall

Plant these hardy bulbs now, for gorgeous color in early spring.  Generally, bulbs are placed in the ground at a depth two to three times the diameter of the bulb. For example, plant most tulip bulbs at a depth of six to eight inches. Place in the ground with the pointy end, or nose, up. Cover with dirt and add a couple of inches of mulch.

  •  tulips
  •  daffodils
  •  snowdrops
  •  crocus
  •  hyacinths
  •  lilies
Plant in Fall Hostas
Hostas come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Perennials to Plant in Fall

Planting perennials in the fall creates bigger and healthier plants in the spring. Adding early blooming perennials to areas with bulbs doubles the color in the garden next spring. As bulb flowers die back, the perennials take their place.

Plant before a hard frost. Don’t fertilize. And add a couple of inches of mulch to blanket the new plants. Water only if there is less than an inch of rainfall per week.

  •  hostas
  •  salvia
  •  peonies
  •  coreopsis
  •  dianthus
  •  garden phlox
  •  sedum
  •  irises
Plant in Fall Azaleas
Azaleas are available in a variety of colors. Plant on the east or north side of the property. They don’t tolerate full sun.

Shrubs and Trees to Plant in Fall

Autumn is the perfect time to plant shrubs and trees. The warm days and cooler nights allow them to spread their roots and settle in before becoming dormant during the winter. And trees and shrubs planted in fall handle heat and drought better the following year.

Make sure you know how large the shrub or tree will get when full grown and leave ample room when planting. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s container and deep enough that the root ball sits slightly above ground level. Add shrub or tree. Fill the hole half way with soil, then water well. Fill in with the remaining soil. Water again. Mulch with two to three inches of a bark based mulch, leaving a couple of inches of space around the trunk. Water two to three times a week, then taper off as the weather and soil cool down.


  •  knockout roses
  •  camellia sasanqua
  •  fothergilla
  •  oakleaf hydrangea
  • rhododendron
  •  spirea
  •  azaleas


  •  Japanese maple
  •  gingko
  •  maple
  •  alder
  •  hawthorn
  •  ash
  •  honey locust
  •  crabapple
  •  spruce
  •  pine
  •  sycamore
  •  elm

Enjoying the Rewards of Fall Gardening

The effort put forth in the garden, during fall, reaps big rewards next spring. Plan for next year and then grab a shovel! Create new beds, add a fresh focal point, divide perennials and tuck that tree into the ground.

Watch next week for the Fall Gardening Checklist. And happy gardening!

Ornamental Grasses
The ornamental grasses are beautiful this time of year.

Mosquitos still a problem in your area? Check out this DIY Mosquito Repellent.

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70 Replies to “Plant in Fall for Spring Color”

  1. Great read Cindy! I was just wondering recently about when to replace the plants that died over the summer. We live in California, so we don’t have to worry about an early frost. Thank you for sharing a very informative post!

  2. Great information! I always seem to have the hardest time planting bulbs, but doing it this way would help save me a lot of time in the spring! I love seeing the flowers bloom =)

  3. Getting out to my garden to do my fall cleanup this week and to add some tulip bulbs to my front garden! Love this time of year!

  4. Planting in the fall to have bright flowers in spring is always so lovely. A few times I forgot that I planted things somewhere and when they came up it was a surprise= haha!

  5. I had no idea that daffodils were one of the first to bloom. I love them! We had them all over our yard when I was growing up. I would get so excited when they would bloom and my grandmother would let me bring some inside for the dining room table.

  6. This was a needed read for me! I did awful this summer and my garden is dead so I was wanting to find out good flowers I could plant in the fall. Best season! 🍂🍂

    1. So soon! It will be late November here before we get a hard freeze. I know Colorado has a shorter growing season.

  7. Pardon my ignorance but I didn’t know that you can plant during Fall season. I always wanted to plant tulips, they’re very pretty during spring. I’m going to look into planting tulips this Fall. Hopefully, I have green thumb 🙂

    Thanks for educating me..

  8. Great info. I’m bookmarking this for future reference. I’m getting better and better at landscaping and gardening, but stuff like this is what’s making me better. Thank you!

  9. Great post!! It’s work but so worth it to plant now. Around March I can’t wait to see daffodils and crocuses!! Then when they come up it’s like a celebration. Two years ago we planted tons of bulbs at my parents’ house and had a beautiful explosion of color along their long driveway. It was so pretty driving by them everyday!!

  10. Gotta say this is one area of my gardening that I regret not taking the time to do in the fall…everyone else is enjoying their spring blooms and I think….oh shoot, I didn’t get to it again, LOL!

  11. Thank you for the awesome read. I don’t have a yard of my own, but my mom does and this is a project we plan on working on together. I’ve already sent her this article so we can get some great ideas.

  12. Thanks for listing the plants in each category. It likely won’t happen this year as we’re expecting snow in two days, but I can plan for next fall and finally get the giant weed patch replaced!

  13. We just moved into a new house with lots of garden space – I can’t wait to get started planting, and am really looking forward to our own big vegetable garden come spring/summer.

  14. Cindy! You just blew my mind. I had no idea you should plant in the fall. Thank you so much for sharing. I guess my littles and I have some gardening to do, they are going to love it.

  15. I give everyone who gardens a lot of credit. I am not a green thumb rather I can’t even have indoor plants because I kill them. I will forward this post to my husband. Perhaps he will be motivated to plant for the spring!

    1. Gardening isn’t everyone’s thing! Maybe a simple flowerpot indoors with herbs or an aloe vera plant, which is very hardy!

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