Traditional fall decorations like pumpkins, haystacks, and cornstalks are fall classics, but adding a vibrant autumn garden alongside them can accentuate your home’s festive appeal.
There’s a variety of colorful fall annuals and perennials to choose from as you get started. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, so keep reading to learn which plants are the best choices for your garden.
Deciding Between Annuals and Perennials
Annuals are plants that germinate, grow, bloom, seed, and perish in one growing season, specifically when the first frost hits. They’re typically smaller than perennials and come in cell packs.
Pros of Annuals
- Inexpensive: Compared to perennials, annuals are relatively cheap, no matter if you purchase them as seeds or seedlings.
- Short Lifespan: Their short lifespan can be a benefit depending on your perspective. Each growing season, you have a chance to redesign your garden and give your yard a fresh pop of color.
- Color Variety: Annuals come in a large variety of colors, many of which are incredibly bright and vivid. This helps cultivate a beautiful, eye-catching garden all season long.
- Fast Growth: If you’re looking to fill your flower beds fast, annuals are a great choice. They generally grow quicker and bloom longer than perennials.
Cons of Annuals
- Short Lifespan: You need to replant annuals each year. This might be a hassle if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to your garden.
- Sensitive to Cold: Most annuals can’t withstand chilly conditions. If you live in a cold climate, annuals may not be the best choice for your situation.
- More Maintenance: If you want to keep your annuals looking good, you need to carve out time to maintain them. This means frequent fertilizing and deadheading — the removal of spent buds. You can spend a lot of time on these tasks if you have numerous annuals.
- Daily Watering: Many annuals require daily watering, which adds to your “to-do” list.
Perennials are types of plants expected to live longer than two years. They’re usually larger and more substantial than annuals.
Pros of Perennials
- Long Lifespan: As long as you take care of them, perennials continue to grow back every season, getting bigger and better.
- Durability: Several perennials can withstand adverse weather conditions, even cold winters.
- Low Maintenance: Many perennials require little maintenance other than periodic pruning and fertilizing.
- Less Watering: Once established, perennials don’t need much watering, making them an excellent choice for drought-ridden areas.
Cons of Perennials
- Slow Growth: These types of plants don’t grow as fast as annuals. Some perennials can even take years to reach full bloom.
- Initial Cost: Perennials cost much more than annuals. However, their return on investment is better since you don’t have to replace them each year.
- Size: Perennials are bigger than annuals, so keep this in mind if your garden space is limited.
Popular Annuals to Plant in Fall
If you’re looking for annuals to plant this fall, consider these flowers to add to your garden:
Chrysanthemums — or simply mums — are a fall flower staple. They radiate in a yard with their eye-popping bursts of red, orange, yellow, and peach. To grow, mums need full sunlight and well-drained soil. They also have shallow roots, which means they require more watering than other plants.
Asters don’t boast traditional fall colors, but they certainly add a bright pop of lavender alongside your other flowers. Plus, these plants attract butterflies that your kids can spot and identify. Like mums, asters require full sun and well-drained soil to grow.
Pansies come in a wide range of colors, including orange, yellow, white, purple, red, and blue. They’re ideal for plant beds, borders, containers, and containers. Plant them in rich, moist soil in a spot with full sun to partial shade.
Despite the name, ornamental cabbage isn’t edible. Instead, it’s a green and purple plant that can handle cooler temperatures, making them excellent additions to flower beds and pots. These plants thrive in moderately moist, rich soil under full sun.
Popular Perennials to Plant in Fall
Here are some popular perennials you should consider incorporating into your garden this fall:
Crotons look beautiful in outdoor containers and indoor spaces, thanks to their colorful hues of yellow, red, green, orange, and black. Their leaves can vary from thin, thick, curly, and twisted, so they’ll always provide a striking appearance. Ensure crotons are planted in rich soil and get enough direct sunlight.
The sumac shrub provides an eye-catching appeal for fall with its crimson red colors. They grow well in a variety of properly draining soils and need consistent sunshine.
Add a touch of color and aroma to your fall garden with oriental lilies. These perennials can grow up 4 to 6 feet tall in well-drained soil and produce vibrant hues such as pink, red, cream, white, and yellow. Keep oriental lilies in a sunny to a partially sunny spot.
If you want to keep garden upkeep to a minimum this fall, sedums are perfect plants. They’re incredibly rugged and come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Plant them in a sunny, well-drained spot.
The Bottom Line
When choosing between annuals and perennials for fall, you need to ask yourself a few questions. Do I have time to maintain a garden? Do I live in a warmer or colder climate? Am I on a budget, or do I have money to spend on a garden? Do I enjoy being a green thumb? How much space do I have to grow a garden?
Annuals are an excellent choice if you have time on your hands to manage a garden and don’t mind replacing them every year. On the other hand, if you’re a busy person and want a low-maintenance garden, perennials are the way to go.
However, don’t think you have to pick one or the other. A combination of annuals and perennials can cultivate a gorgeous garden with tons of color, form, and texture.
What are you going to plant this fall? Annuals, perennials, or both? Let us know your plans in the comments!