Planting for Fabulous Fall Color

Fall is a great time to add fabulous color to your garden or outdoor containers that can last well into the holiday season.

Carly Gillespie with Cactus & Tropicals teaches us how to plan for fabulous fall color.

Well, it’s official. The days are getting shorter; nights are cooler and our summer gardens slowly winding down. So, that’s it for gardening season. Right? Wrong! Fall is a great time to add fabulous color to your garden or outdoor containers that in some cases can last well into the holiday season.

Annuals like pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, mums and asters can be added to gardens starting this month, and give your garden that ‘wow’ factor that it might be missing. Perennials that are coming into nurseries like ornamental grasses; succulents like sedums can create permanent structure in your containers while giving interesting texture and seasonal color. But, we don’t want you going to the nursery and being overwhelmed by options, so let’s talk about what plants are right for you.

Pansies and Violets

These words are often used inter-changeably. Generally speaking pansies are large plants with larger flowers, where violets or violas have small sweet flowers and lower growing plants. Both are very well suited to grow in cooler weather, and produce edible flowers that make great seasonal cake decorations. These flowers come in a range of colors – from whites, yellows, pale blues and lavenders to bright orange, burgundy and plums. Many of the flowers have multi-colored blooms. These easy to maintain plants will bloom from late August until we get a very hard frost, and can even be left in place to come back in the spring.

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage

Ornamental kale and cabbage are exactly what they sound like. They are both ornamental versions of the edible plants we are all familiar with. Often these plants have more color and interesting foliage that can be lacy or curly. It’s the leaves of these plants that are providing color, and are often white, light green, green and purple. They are great container plants as well as bedding plants, and should last well into the holiday season depending on the weather.

Mums and Asters

Mums and asters are beautiful plants that provide excellent fall color. Some varieties of these plants can be perennial and come back every year, but most in the nurseries right now are annuals. Both most commonly produce a large flush of flowers all at once, early in fall. They will put out smaller sets of blooms after the flush, but will not be quite as showy the rest of the season. These plants are best suited for a person that is trying to dress up a patio or garden for a fall event, but don’t need to extend that color into the early winter months.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental grasses are a must have for fall containers. Not only do they add height to your container gardens, but they have beautifully colored foliage as well. Most of the grasses you find in local nurseries are perennials, but be sure to ask. This means they will continue to come back every year, meaning less to plant next season. This time of year grasses will shoot out bloom heads that add another dimension of interest to your container, and even as they die-off for the winter the dried grass stands-up and holds interest.

Succulent Plants

Succulent plants like sedums and groundcovers are great low growing perennial plants that make a great addition as a bedding plant, as well as a wonderful trailing plant for the edges of containers. Sedums come in a variety of foliage colors; some of the most interesting are white and pink variegated, maroon, lime green, and purple. All of these plants also produce blooms, mostly in the pink range of colors. The leaves of the plants are interesting and can be very textural, creating a lot of interest in any type of planting. These perennial plants look lovely through the fall, and go through a leaf color change when the weather cools down, and some varieties are evergreens that will hold their leaves through the winter.

Cactus & Tropicals has the best selection of fresh, healthy and unique house plants and flowers, elegant garden accessories and gifts. In spring and summer visit us for low maintenance and water wise xeric plants, beautiful native, trees, shrubs and perennials, steppable ground covers and spectacular container gardens, Veggies, herbs and flowers of all types and super cool, winter hardy cactus and succulents fill our exterior nursery with everything you need to create a beautiful space inside and out. Cactus & Tropicals also provides interior, guaranteed plant maintenance for over 800 locations in and around the Salt Lake Valley and is an exquisite location for your wedding reception or other special event. Open year round, 7 days a week in Salt Lake City and Draper Join our Gifts From the Garden Club and receive 20% off of an item of your choice and a variety of discounts and same as cash coupons throughout the year. Visit our website at:

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