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5 Ways to Boost Fall Color

5 Ways to Boost Fall Color

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

No one wants to see summer’s splendor end, but by growing the types of plants you’ll read about here, your garden can continue to be bursting with vibrant colors well into fall. A flourishing autumn garden includes a mix of many kinds of plants including fresh cool season annuals, grasses with prominent plumes, and perennials with fantastic fall foliage. Take your pick to see what kind of natural portrait you could paint in your own garden this season. 

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5 Kinds of Plants to Grow for Fall Color

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Seek out fresh color for the garden this time of year including annuals that thrive in cooler temperatures like Bright Lights® Purple Osteospermum daisies, Supertunia® Latte™ petunias and Lady Godiva® Orange Calendula.

1. Cool Weather Annuals

Late summer is an ideal time to head back to your local garden center or favorite online retailer to gather a few new cool weather tolerant annuals. Unlike some perennials which are finished blooming, vibrant annuals can reenergize container plantings and landscapes. Retailers are beginning to stock varieties that will tolerate the season’s shorter days and cooler nights, so you can count on these plants to bloom well into fall. Now is the time to plant them so they will have a few weeks to get acclimated before temperatures really start to dip. 

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Mumma Mia Red garden mums add warmth and depth to fall containers, window boxes and bouquets.

2. Plants for Fall Decorating

Decorative fall plants like mums are an easy way to add a pop of color near your front door or on your balcony in festive containers. They serve a dual purpose, too—mums last up to two weeks as a cut flower in fresh arrangements, so make sure you have plenty on hand for decorating both inside and out. You’ll find them in a broad array of reds, oranges, golds and purples to suit any color scheme you dream up for your fall decorating projects.

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Graceful Grasses® ‘Fireworks’ is especially dynamic in late summer and fall when it is in full bloom. 

3. Annual Ornamental Grasses

Annual grasses like ‘Fireworks’ variegated purple fountain grass really come into their own after summer peaks and the cooler weather begins to amplify their rich foliage tones. Soft, feathery plumes borne abundantly this time of year sway in the slightest fall breeze, bringing elegant motion and texture to the landscape. Those planted in container recipes earlier in the season now become the dominant component.

Why plant annual grasses?

  • They provide vivid color from spring until frost, something that just can’t be matched with hardy perennial grasses.
  • They grow and mature quickly, knowing they only have one season to show you all they’ve got.
  • They are often less expensive than perennial grasses.

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Perennial grasses like Prairie Winds® ‘Desert Plains’ mature over the years to become the highlight of your fall landscape. 

4. Perennial Ornamental Grasses

Some of the easiest, most low maintenance plants you can grow for fall interest in your landscape are perennial ornamental grasses like Prairie Winds® fountain grasses, switch grasses and little bluestem. If your garden is missing these iconic elements of the autumn landscape, head on over to your local garden center or favorite online retailer. They should have plenty in stock this time of year including cultivars that are short, tall, mounded, columnar, and have bottlebrush plumes or airy seed heads.

Why plant perennial grasses?

  • They are easy to grow and require little maintenance to thrive.
  • They are long-lived and can be divided every few years to add to more places around your landscape.
  • They bring the element of change to the garden as they grow and mature through all four seasons. Their interesting texture is present in every season except late winter to early spring.

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The warm orange tones of Primo® ‘Peachberry Ice’ coral bells complement the red berries of Berry Heavy® winterberry holly throughout the fall and early winter.

5. Perennials with Colorful Foliage

Perennials like coral bells that are grown for their showy foliage add interest to the landscape all season, but they are perhaps best appreciated in fall after many other plants are no longer in their prime. Their rich purple, red, orange and gold foliage beautifully complements flowering mums and cool season annuals like Lady Godiva® Orange Calendula in porch pots, window boxes and plantings around the fire pit.

6. Want to learn more about fall gardening?

  • Find ten more plants for fall color in this article.
  • Learn about container gardening in fall in this article.
  • Get inspired with fall container recipes on this Pinterest board

Stay up to date with Proven Winners on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter.

Patent Information: Bright Lights™ Purple Osteospermum USPPAF CanPBRAF; Supertunia® Latte™ Petunia USPP28069 Can5508; Lady Godiva® Orange Calendula USPPAF CanPBRAF; Graceful Grasses® 'Fireworks' Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' USPP18504; Prairie Winds® 'Desert Plains' Pennisetumalopecuroides USPP20751; Primo® 'Peachberry Ice' Heuchera USPP31433 CanPBRAF

Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners across North America.


All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia

Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.


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