“Fall is a great time to garden for most plants (annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, etc.),” says Amy Enfield, horticulturist for Miracle-Gro®. “Soil temperatures are still warm, night temperatures are cool, and days are warm—which is great for plants to establish strong root systems. Rains are usually more plentiful which means you have to spend less time watering.” (Less work is always a bonus.)
Even if you’re new to fall plants—or planting in general—this season can be a time for you to establish a garden without any of the pressure. Enfield suggests starting small with one or two plants first to get a feel for the full lineup. “Learning how to nurture and care for plants (watering correctly, giving your plants enough light, remembering to feed, etc.) takes time and practice.”
So cut yourself some slack, and keep some best practices in mind. Enfield recommends checking the soil every day or two for moisture, and only watering when the top inch is dry. Keep some bed sheets handy to throw on your flowers or vegetables at night if frost is in the forecast—and if it starts to get really chilly where you live, don’t forget that indoors is still an option, too. “Whether you try your hands at houseplants or grow veggies and herbs in a hydroponic unit, just because the weather outside is cold, doesn’t mean gardening ends,” Enfield says. On the flip side, if you live in a region with mild winters, you can continue the outdoor gardening straight through till spring.
Just consider gardening your new fall hobby (and relaxing form of meditation). This horticulturist is sharing recs for four low-maintenance fall plants, so you can take on the coveted title of plant parent like you were always meant to.
Keep reading for 4 fall plants to add to your your outdoor garden—and the best practices for keeping them alive all season.
Mums are a triple threat: low-effort, high reward, and a total classic in the world of fall plants. To get the most bang for your buck, Enfield advises selecting a plant that has flower buds that are just starting to crack open—since ones in full bloom won’t last as long once they’re in the soil.
Once you pick your plant (Mums come in basically every hue that screams “quintessential fall”), you can repot them into the planter of your choice or plant them directly in the ground. Just make a point to keep the soil moist, and remember it won’t dry out as quickly as it does in the summer, Enfield says. Miracle-Gro® Potting Mix will help grow your mums to their full potential and feeds up to six months—so you can keep on enjoying your new garden beyond these chilly months.
Fall, meet your other favorite plant, pansies. Pansies, meet fall. “In many cases, if the pansies are planted in early fall and have time to establish a strong root system before freezing temperatures arrive, they will survive,” Enfield says. “You may be surprised to see them start to grow and flower again in the spring as the weather starts to warm.” Plant them in one season, and reap the floral benefits in another.
All you have to do to keep pansies happy is to make sure your soil is moist and to feed them (aka add plant food—Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food has you covered) regularly throughout the fall season to extend their longevity.
While you won’t see the full power of your crocus in the fall, you can plant them in your garden ahead of time to enjoy the flowering bulbs come spring. “Crocus bulbs should be planted in a spot that gets part to full sun,” Enfield says. “They should be planted around three inches deep and spaced two to three inches apart.”
To help kickstart your planting process, opt for Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil that will help improve your existing soil and build stronger roots. So after planting, all you have to do is sit back and focus on the important stuff (documenting the process, duh).
This isn’t another frozen smoothie bowl that’s about to take over vegan menus, it’s actually luscious shrubbery that’s a total standout amongst fall plants. “Beautyberry is a great plant to add to the landscape for fall interest—the leaves have great fall color, and the plant is filled with purple berries in clusters along the stems,” Enfield says.
To dot your outdoor space with these autumn-inspired colors, just make sure not to plant too deep. Enfield says the top of the root ball should be level or slightly higher than the soil—and to water it thoroughly and deeply a few times a week until the soil freezes. Congratulations: You’ve officially earned the badge of plant parent.
Sponsored by MiracleGro®
Top photo: Getty Images/massimo colombo
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