As the new school year begins and the temperatures (finally!) begin to drop, it’s time to start thinking about adding some fall beauty to your garden. The leaves may or may not change color where you live, but you can still bring bursts of colors to your outdoor space with fall flowers. These flowers also provide much-needed nectar for late-season pollinators and even seeds for birds.
To help you make the most of your autumn garden, we’ve compiled a list of 15 stunning fall flowers. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide will help you create a vibrant and welcoming fall garden.
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A List of Our 15 Favorite Fall Flowers
In no particular order, our favorites are:
- Sweet Alyssum
- Black-Eyed Susans
All of these flowers can be planted in late summer or early fall (if not in the spring) and enjoy cooler temps. Some are even frost-tolerant. You’ll need to get them in the ground no later than 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost of the season to ensure you enjoy as many beautiful blooms as possible.
ASTERS ARE THE PERFECT FLOWERS FOR LATE FALL
Asters are beloved for their captivating daisy-like flowers, which come in various shades of purple, blue, pink, yellow, and white, and they’ve become a flower symbolic of fall. In fact, I think of them as the counterpart to fresh-faced daisies in the spring.
Asters are super low-maintenance and will bloom prolifically. These hardy perennials are known to attract butterflies and other pollinators, and because they continue to bloom long after other flowers fade, they’re a really important food source for our little friends before winter.
Asters thrive in full to partial sun and well-drained soil. Instead of deadheading flowers during the growing season, just give asters a good pruning down to the ground before winter. Plants should return in the spring in warmer climates.
If you’re looking for aster seeds, try this stunning Bonita Top Blue aster from Botanical Interests. Thanks to their sturdy stems, they make excellent cut flowers for fall floral arrangements.
MARIGOLDS ARE PERFECT FOR FALL GARDENS
If you want a super low-maintenance plant that will give you a stunning fall display—vibrant flowers in all our favorite autumn colors, no less—look no further than marigolds. Marigolds are ridiculously easy to grow, thriving in so many different soil types, and they even deter certain garden pests, making them a valuable addition to your fall salad garden.
Pinch off spent blooms to encourage your marigolds to bloom all the way through your first light frost. Marigolds are annual flowers that often reseed themselves the following spring.
STRAWFLOWERS DOUBLE AS THE PERFECT FALL DECOR
I don’t understand how more people aren’t obsessed with these gorgeous flowers that love crisp autumn temperatures. (Spread the strawflower love, folks!) Strawflowers come in all different varieties and colors, including yellow, orange, red, and white for fall. They look like daisies except the petals (technically modified leaves called bracts) around the central disk are stiff and papery. Thanks to this unique texture, the flowers literally never wilt.
These plants are super-hardy short-lived perennials in warmer climates. Luckily for those of you in colder climates, they grow quickly from seed. The plants have long, sturdy stems made for cutting (honestly, it’s like they were created with a Thanksgiving centerpiece in mind), and the flowers can be dried and used forever as fall decor.
Snap up this Swiss Giants Strawflower Blend from Botanical Interests.
PANSIES THRIVE FROM FALL TO SPRING IN WARMER CLIMATES
Pansies love cooler weather, and these cold-tolerant annual flowers can even handle some frost. Plant them in fall, and you’ll get early winter blooms. In mild climates, your pansies can push all the way to spring.
Pansies are beloved for their “face-like” appearance and come in an array of colors, including purple, blue, red, yellow, and white. I love planting pansies in my flower beds, containers, and hanging baskets for pops of color from about October to April. Since pansies spread side to side instead of growing very tall, they’re also perfect for the edges of raised garden beds.
Did I mention that pansies are edible and make pretty little garnishes for baked goods?
While you can certainly buy flats of pansies at the garden center, you can also grow your own from seed. Some of my favorite pansy varieties are Swiss Giants Blend from Botanical Interests and Heirloom Pansies from Renee’s Garden.
SWEET ALYSSUM ADDS DELICATE FRAGRANCE TO YOUR FALL GARDEN
Sweet alyssum loves the cooler months. This low-growing annual produces clusters of tiny, fragrant flowers (mini rosettes), making it a good choice for edging your garden beds or spilling over the side of container gardens.
Sweet alyssum doesn’t do very well in the summer, so if your spring-planted flowers are looking a little frizzled up, prune them back to promote fresh flowers for the fall or plant new seeds.
BLACK-EYED SUSANS ARE PERFECT FALL PERENNIALS
Black-eyed Susans, AKA rudbeckia, are classic fall wildflowers with their golden-yellow petals and a dark central cone. They grow on strong, tall stems, which makes them ideal as cut flowers for fall centerpieces. If you leave the flowers, you’ll attract just about every pollinator in the hood.
Low-maintenance black-eyed Susans are known for their ability to thrive in diverse conditions—drought, cold, wind, you name it. They can grow in full sun to partial shade and are drought-tolerant once established. All you have to do is deadhead spent flowers to promote new blooms and then cut back the stems in winter to encourage them to return in the spring.
You can’t go wrong with these reliable little black-eyed Susan seeds from Botanical Interests.
DIANTHUS IS A MUST-GROW AT THE END OF SUMMER
Dianthus, also known as “pinks,” produce charming, fragrant flowers in various colors, including stunning shades of pink, purple, red, and white. They thrive in well-drained soil and full sun. Because they don’t grow very tall, these annuals are perfect for borders and edges of fall container gardens.
For classic dianthus flowers in rosy reds and pastel pinks, try the Doubled Chinensis Mix from High Mowing Seeds. If you want a frilly, super fragrant spin on dianthus, try the Rainbow Loveliness Cottage Pinks seeds from Botanical Interests. Their blooms smell a bit like jasmine, which would be a nice contrast to all your pumpkin-scented candles!
CHRYSANTHEMUMS ARE ICONIC FALL FLOWERS
Was it even October if you didn’t grow mums? These quintessential fall flowers come in a whole array of colors, including rich shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple.
Instead of starting mums from seed, grab a potted plant with blooms in your favorite fall hue from your local nursery or grocery store as soon as you see their autumn displays.
Mums can be grown as perennials in the ground or a container with proper care, so it’s a good investment (if you leave them outside for winter, they’ll only survive if their roots had a chance to get established). Place them in well-drained soil and ensure they receive adequate sunlight for spectacular fall blooms.
SNAPDRAGONS GROW THE MOST GORGEOUS FLOWERS
Snapdragons wait for nice, crisp weather before they put on their heaviest blooms. Short-lived perennials that are typically grown as annuals, snapdragons produce tall spikes of colorful, tubular flowers that resemble dragon heads and look stunning in flower arrangements or as edible garnishes. Snapdragons prefer full sun but can tolerate some shade. Since their preferred temps are in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, gardeners in warmer climates can grow snapdragons right through the winter.
Night and Day Snapdragons from Botanical Interests would be the star of any fall planting. The petals start off red and turn dark burgundy, almost black, as the weather cools. Perfect for spooky season!
DAHLIAS ARE BEAUTIFUL FALL- AND SPRING-BLOOMING BULBS
Dahlias are known for their impressive, large blooms in an array of colors and forms. These perennials thrive in full sun and well-drained soil. Dahlias require some care, including staking for taller varieties (make sure to put them near the back of your garden) and regular deadheading, but the stunning rewards are well worth the effort. The large blooms do really well as cut flowers.
Unlike the majority of plants on this list, dahlias are bulbs (technically tubers) that can be planted by seed in late spring or early summer for a late summer and fall display.
However, in warmer climates, they can be planted in late summer for fall blooms. Tubers can even be left in the ground all year in warmer areas. You more northern-based gardeners will need to dig your tubers up before the ground freezes and then replant them once it thaws.
For flowers in all the pretty colors, try Decorative Double Blend from Botanical Interests.
CONEFLOWERS ARE SOME OF THE BEST PLANTS TO GROW
Coneflowers, also called echinacea, are native perennial flowers with striking pinkish purple flowers with a raised central cone. (You can also find them in shades of pink and white if you prefer.)
These hardy plants are a favorite among pollinators, especially bees and butterflies. They provide late-season nectar, plus seeds for goldfinches and other birds in the late fall and winter if you leave spent flowers on the plants.
Established plants can bloom well into the fall. In most hardiness zones, coneflowers will die back during the winter and then return in the spring.
CORNFLOWERS MAKE BEAUTIFUL FALL-BLOOMING FLOWERS
These little beauties, also called bachelor’s buttons, display vibrant blue, pink, and white blooms that add a touch of nostalgia to your garden. They are easy to grow and can thrive in a variety of soil types; they’re even drought tolerant, which is great if you have a dry fall season. Cornflowers are annuals, but they readily self-sow for next season. They make pretty little cut flowers, but if you leave the spent flowers, the birds will sure appreciate it.
ZINNIAS ARE HARDY SUMMER FLOWERS THAT THRIVE THROUGH FALL
Zinnias deserve all the love they receive for their bright and cheerful blooms, which come in all different colors, shapes, and sizes. These annuals are low-maintenance and attract a wide range of pollinators, everything from hummingbirds to ladybugs. Zinnias will bloom in spring, thrive over summer even when most other flowers are wilting, and then push all the way to the first frost.
Harvest your zinnia blooms often to encourage your plant to keep producing. Zinnias make excellent cut flowers, but blooms should be placed in fresh water ASAP after being harvested for best results.
NASTURTIUMS ARE TROPICAL-LOOKING COOL-SEASON FLOWERS
Nasturtiums are prized for their vibrant, hibiscus-like blooms that come in bright red, orange, and yellow. They’re easy to grow from seed in a sunny spot, though I do recommend lightly sanding the seed with a nail file before planting. Pick a bushy or trailing variety to suit your space. Trailing varieties look beautiful growing up a garden trellis. The colorful flowers are edible and add a peppery flavor to salads.
If you’ve got aphids lingering in your garden from the summertime, plant some nasturtiums to attract ladybugs—they’ll handle your aphid problem for you. Even though they love cool weather, nasturtiums cannot handle too much frost.
CALENDULA IS A COOL-SEASON ANNUAL THAT THRIVES IN THE FALL
Calendula, often known as “pot marigold,” boasts bright and cheerful red, yellow, or orange petals. These versatile flowers not only enhance your garden’s aesthetic but also have various culinary and medicinal uses (I like to make a salve to calm itchy skin). Calendula prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It’s also frost-tolerant, making it a fantastic addition to your fall flower lineup.
It may be an annual or a short-lived perennial in your area, but calendula reseeds itself easily and pops back up again when the weather is right.
I hope you’re feeling inspired to transform your fall garden into a colorful, vibrant oasis for the autumn months. From classic mums to delicate sweet alyssum, there’s a fall flower for every gardener’s taste. Plant a couple of these beauties for a stunning fall garden that will continue to thrive until the first frost arrives.
Let us know in the comments below if we missed your favorite fall flower!