Garden planting tips to keep vibrant color in your flowerbeds and containers after a hard frost.
By Sarah F. Ehrhardt
A hard frost brings an end to summer’s annuals. But you don’t have to concede all of autumn’s glory to the trees!
Extravagant color and greenery can still fill your garden containers and flower beds. Just rip out droopy summer plants, turn the soil and plan to replant for fall.
Asters come into their full glory now. Their vivid pink, purple and white star-shaped blossoms are so numerous, it’s hard to see the greenery beneath. Tuck them in the ground or in a pot, and they will perform well into early November.
Mums, a fall favorite at garden centers and grocery stores, come in an amazing variety of sizes and blossom shapes. Spider mums have long, leggy blossom heads, while cushion mums look just like an old-fashioned pincushion.
And there’s not just a rainbow of mum colors, but also lots of shades within each—yellow to gold, lavender to deep purple, pale pink to burgundy and pure white to soft cream.
Cold-hardy violas, an early spring standby, make an excellent addition to fall garden beds and pots. Their dainty appearance offsets the heavier, bushy asters and mums, and their light-hearted colors soften any display.
Don’t forget flowering kale, also known as flowering cabbage. After waiting patiently all summer for its big fall show, kale makes a spectacular statement in gardens and containers, with large, leathery leaves of ruby red, purple, green or blue.
Ornamental grasses, like purple fountain grass, add height and movement to autumn displays, with fluffy plumed seed heads that sway in the wind. Some varieties even have foliage that turns from green to red or bronze with the frost.
Cornstalk clusters are great for adding vertical interest to your garden as Halloween nears. Tie one around a lamppost, nestling pots of mums, pansies, kale and asters around the base for a great seasonal look. Or lean three cornstalk clusters into each other to form a tripod near an overflowing container of blossoms and a hay bale with colorful Indian corn.
It wouldn’t be fall without bright orange jack-o’-lanterns and colorful gourds in all shapes and sizes. Giant pumpkins or tiny “jack-be-littles”—carved or whole—add a shot of lively color in your garden display. Gourds piled on hay in an old bushel basket look great by the front door.
Too many gardeners reserve flower beds and pots for summer. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate fall with a fresh round of color.
Photos by Sarah F. Ehrhardt