Autumn: the ultimate time to get out and garden!

Smart tips for falling for the fall planting season

4 minute read

Tomatoes growing on a vine in a planter

As the vibrant colors of summer transition into the warm hues of autumn, it's the perfect time to extend gardening endeavors into the fall season. Contrary to popular belief, autumn isn't just a time to tidy up your garden. It's also an excellent opportunity to plant a variety of crops, flowers, and shrubs that thrive in the cooler weather and support pollinators. In this guide, we'll explore the different regions of the United States and discuss the types of plants, including bulbs, that are ideal for fall planting. Additionally, we'll provide essential tips for successful autumn gardening and explain why this season holds unique advantages for both experienced and novice gardeners.

Fall has its advantages!

Fall planting for the win! Autumn is a favorable season for gardening due to its milder temperatures and increased moisture levels. The soil is still warm from summer, promoting root growth, while the cooler air reduces stress on newly planted vegetation. Moreover, weeds tend to be less aggressive in the fall, reducing competition for resources. These conditions collectively create an environment conducive to plant establishment and growth. It’s the perfect time to make your garden look fabulous this season, and acts as an investment for spring and summer, too.

Planting in different U.S. regions.

Northeast: In the northeastern states, where the fall foliage is a sight to behold, gardeners can plant cold-hardy vegetables:
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

    Carrots newly harvested on a bed of soilA basket of lettuce harvested from the garden next to garden boots and a rakeFresh spinach in the garden

    Fall is also the prime time to plant spring-blooming bulbs:

    • Tulips
    • Daffodils
    • Crocuses
    Red purple and white tulips outside in the gardenFor pollinators, plant:
    • Asters
    • Goldenrods
    • Coneflowers / echinacea
    • Sedums
    Purple asters outsideEchinacea with pink petals and orange cone pistilsSedums with bright and soft pink petalsSoutheast: The Southeast experiences milder winters, making it suitable for planting a second round of warm-season crops:
    • Tomatoes
    • Peppers
    • Beans
    Tomatoes growing on the vine outsideAdditionally, consider planting cool-season herbs:
    • Cilantro
    • Parsley

    Parsley growing outside

    Flower bulbs that do well in the Southeast include:

    • Daffodils
    • Hyacinths
    • Irises


    To attract pollinators, include:

    • Bee balm
    • Butterfly weed
    • Zinnias

    Bright pink bee balm growing outside

    Red Zinnia in the garden

    Midwest: The Midwest's cooler temperatures and rich soil make it a great region for planting fall crops such as:

    • Brussels sprouts
    • Cabbage
    • Kale

    Green cabbage in a planter box next to a watering can

    Garlic is another popular option; planting it in the fall allows for a larger harvest the following summer.

    Bulbs which will bloom in the Spring:

    • Tulips
    • Crocuses
    • Alliums

    Multicolored tulips growing outside

    To support pollinators, grow:

    • Coneflowers
    • Joe-Pye weed
    • Native grasses

    Ornamental grasses with brown fuzzy stems

    Southwest: In the arid Southwest, fall presents an opportunity to plant cool-season vegetables like:

    • Lettuce
    • Radishes
    • Peas

    Radishes harvested from the garden

    Native plants, such as:

    • Cacti
    • Other succulents

    Various cacti growing outside

    Various succulents in planters

    Bulbs that will add vibrant colors:

    • Daffodils
    • Dutch irises

    Dutch iris outside

    To attract pollinators to this challenging environment, opt for:

    • Penstemons
    • Desert marigolds
    • Agastache

    Penstemons with lavender and cream petals

    Desert marigolds with yellow flowers in the sunlight

    Agastache with purple petals

    West Coast: The West Coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate, perfect for planting cool-season crops like:

    • Cauliflower
    • Broccoli
    • Swiss chard

    Swiss Chard leaves in the sunlight

    Consider adding native plants and drought-resistant options to your garden like:

    • Freesias
    • Anemones
    • Ranunculuses


    To create a pollinator-friendly haven, include:

    • California poppies
    • Lavender
    • Salvias
    Purple lavender growing in a field

    Top tips for successful fall gardening.

    Prepping for garden prep: Before heading out into the garden, prep and protect yourself ticks and mosquitoes by spraying yourself with a plant-powered bug repellent like Wondercide’s Lemongrass or Rosemary Insect Repellent. The spray is safe for the whole family when used as directed and the scents smell as fresh as the garden.

    Wondercide Rosemary Insect Repellent in the fall garden

    Soil preparation: Prepare your soil by amending it with compost to ensure good drainage and nutrient content.

    Planting depth: Follow planting depth guidelines for bulbs and seeds to encourage healthy growth.

    Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around plants to insulate the soil, conserve moisture, and prevent weed growth.

    Watering: Keep plants well-watered, especially during dry spells, to help them establish strong root systems before winter.

    Frost Protection: Be prepared to cover tender plants if frost is forecasted, extending their growing season.

    Pest management: Monitor for pests, as they can become more active in the cooler months. Because fall can be peak flea season, a very active tick season, and an extended mosquito season for most regions of the U.S., be sure to treat your yard with plant-powered Wondercide yard sprays.

    Planning: Design your garden layout beforehand to maximize space and ensure a harmonious arrangement of plants.

    Fall gardening is so rewarding, and it offers a unique set of benefits for gardeners across different regions of the United States. By choosing plants that are well-suited to your specific region's climate and by incorporating varieties that attract and support pollinators, you can create a flourishing fall garden that adds beauty as well as biodiversity to your outdoor space. With the right knowledge and care, your autumn garden will thrive and provide a stunning showcase of the potential that this often-overlooked gardening season holds.