5 reasons why you should plant perennials in autumn; there are fall annuals, too

Coreopsis is a low-growing perennial that blooms for several weeks from summer to fall. Photo courtesy Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses
Heuchera is a perennial that exhibits great color in its leaves and does well in shade. Photo courtesy Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Yes, you can plant perennials now, and there are advantages to planting in autumn rather than waiting for spring.

While some people say you can plant perennials into October, the folks at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses recommend getting them in the ground by mid-September to make sure they get established before the first frost.

The first frost can vary from year to year, and when you should expect your first frost depends on where in Western New York you live. Valleys and low-lying areas can see earlier frosts, while gardeners near the lake may see frost later. See a map of expected dates for first fall frost here.

You can also perk up your landscape now with early mums and other ornamental fall plants. You can find them at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.

Five advantages to planting perennials in autumn

foxglove flowers
Foxglove is tall and stately with trumpet-shaped blooms now. Photo courtesy Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses

You’ll be drawn to late-season plants. When you shop for flowering plants, you’re probably drawn to the ones that are in bloom. If you shop only in May, your garden will look great at the beginning of summer, but by this time of year, it will be drab. Why? Because you bought only plants that bloom early! Shop now and you’ll see the tremendous variety of perennials that flower now.

You can enjoy those blooms now. If you buy a perennial in bloom and plant it now, you can enjoy it in your garden now. Why wait until next year?

It’s not so hot out. That’s good for the plants and good for you. The heat of summer can stress plants. When it’s hot and dry out, you have to be diligent about watering newly planted specimens to make sure they get through the summer. If you plant perennials now, you still have to make sure you keep them watered, but that job isn’t as difficult now as it is when it’s hot and dry out. And it’s more pleasant digging in your garden when it’s cooler out.

Many perennials are on sale. “You can get a good-sized plant at half the price,” said  Dan Meyer, greenhouse associate at Mischler’s.

You have time. In spring, you’re rushing around trying to get so many plants in at once– perennials and tender vegetables and annuals. That’s in addition to all the mowing and weeding and outdoor parties in spring. At this time of year, there aren’t as many gardening tasks vying for your attention. Enjoy the slower pace and plant your perennials in autumn.

Ornamental plants for autumn

Mums, winter pansies, ornamental kale and ornamental peppers can also brighten up your landscape now.


mum in bloom with buds
Mums come in a variety of colors. Photo courtesy Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses

Early mums are now available at Mischler’s. Some people like to choose a plant that is fully open so they have instant beauty, while others choose a plant with tight buds so that they can enjoy the plant longer, Meyer noted. It’s up to you.

There are early-season, mid-season and late-season mums. They bloom at different times, depending on the variety.

Winter pansies

You can enjoy the bright colors of winter pansies now in window boxes and other containers. They can tolerate cold weather and even some frost.

You can also plant them in the ground, and they may come back in the spring, Meyer said. However, they like cool weather and will die in the heat of summer.

To increase your chances of having pansies come back in spring, plant them in the ground now, he said. Don’t have them on your porch until Halloween, then try to plant them in your garden.

ornamental peppers
Ornamental peppers can be used with other fall plants in containers. Photo courtesy Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses

Other ornamental plants

Other popular plants for this time of year are ornamental peppers and ornamental kale. See how to arrange some fall plants in this video on how to quickly pot up a fall planter and this video about making a more complex fall planter.




4 Comments on “5 reasons why you should plant perennials in autumn; there are fall annuals, too

  1. Hothouse mums hardly ever come back, but I have luck with field grown mum’s

  2. Brian, the trick to having mums come back is to plant them in your garden in July. Since most people don’t want to have a non-blooming plant taking up space in their garden in July, most gardeners treat them as annuals. See details here. If you want to try to get the mums you have now through the winter, try these tips.

  3. Connie, I purchase Mums every year! Is there some trick to keeping these alive in your garden, in probably 20 years of using Mums in my garden I’ve had only one plant survive more than one year!

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