If your pots and garden beds are starting to look worn out from the heat of summer, it might be time to update them with some beautiful fall options. While most gardeners are familiar with choices such as mums, grasses, and pansies, a plethora of plants are available to add color and interest to your garden.


Mums and Asters: The traditional fall flowers, mums and asters come in many colors and will fill out more than other options. Note that they only bloom once and will bloom out faster in the heat. They tend to use more water than some other selections, and they can get top heavy and break easily. However, if you’re looking to fill in a large area without a lot of effort, they are your best choice.


Rudbeckia: A great option for height, Rudbeckia provides a nice pop of golden-yellow or deep red. Rudbeckia needs a fair amount of water but will give you bold colors and larger flowers.



Celosia: Celosia adds gorgeous color to any fall planting, as well as providing height and shape interest. Celosia doesn’t require as much water as some other options, but it does not handle frost well.


Dianthus: Often overlooked for fall plantings, dianthus holds up to the cold relatively well and offers unique colors not found in most fall options. Dianthus comes in a variety of heights and colors to suit your needs.


Pansies: Another traditional option, pansies hold up well to the frost, lasting longer than other flowers as the season progresses. They will not do well in hot conditions.


Grasses: A wide range of grasses are available for fall planting, and many can be planted earlier in the season. Some options include red or purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’), spiralis (Juncus effusus), toffee twist sedge (Carex flagellifera), and Blue Mohawk® soft rush (Juncus inflexus). Grasses add both color and height interest for fall.


Ornamental peppers: Gaining in popularity, ornamental peppers can be found in a variety of color options, including deep purple and reddish-orange. They will add a fun, unique touch to fall plantings.


Fillers: Flowering kale, dusty miller, and senecio are great options to add subtle color and interest. Flowering kale comes in a variety of colors and shapes. However, the rabbits will love them as much as you will. Dusty miller and senecio will add a softer look and are less appetizing to four-legged visitors.


Tips and tricks

Don’t plant too early; especially with mums and asters, as they only bloom once.

For grasses and other fillers, incorporate them into your spring or summer plantings to save time and money in the fall. Otherwise, stop by your local garden center during their end-of-summer sale to snag these at discounted prices.

Use your imagination and take a chance on trying different things. Gardening is all about experimentation and having fun! Step out of your comfort zone – you just might discover something new.

Interested in becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer? Applications accepted now through October 1. Visit https://extension.umn.edu/master-gardener/become-master-gardener to apply.


Ashley Sobczak is an U of M Extension Master Gardener Intern.

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