Now that summer is over and the days are getting shorter, it’s all too common for people to allow their gardens to go dormant until spring. But just because it has gotten colder doesn’t mean your yard has to lie fallow for months. There are plants that have adapted to cooler weather and vegetables that thrive in the later part of the year. Planting appropriately can extend beautiful blooms late into the fall and prepare your garden for spring.


Freshly harvested potatoes held in handsThere are an abundance of fall vegetables that you can grow for yourself, keeping your recipes fresh and your grocery bills low. It’s important to time your planting based on temperatures in the fall. You can grow a large variety of foods as long as you ensure that they have the time to grow to maturity before the first late-fall freeze.

The variety of plants that you can grow in the fall is wide. Leafy greens do well, and many greens are frost tolerant. Depending on where you live, some summer plants can even continue to do well into the fall. Pulling spent plants and replanting them on an individual basis, known as succession planting, will extend the life of your crop. Temperatures in the South can stay in good growing range for a long time, allowing you to raise beautiful peppers and tomatoes. Hardy root vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, will thrive in the fall. Don’t forget to plant bulbs like garlic and shallots in the later fall so that they mature over the winter and are ready to harvest in the spring.

Fall-Blooming Flowers

Not all plants bloom at the same time. Knowing which plants bloom in the early summer and which bloom later will allow you to keep your garden bright well into the fall. Invest in late-blooming perennials, and your garden will show gorgeous color year after year. Flowers that bloom at this time of year include the lavender, flowering spikes of lilyturf; the red and orange, lantern-shaped berry cases of Chinese lantern; and the bright, multi-colored blooms of asters.

Next Year’s Bulbs

Yellow tulips in a gardenFall is the perfect time of year to plant spring-blooming bulbs. These will spread their roots during the winter and come up early in the spring in a wash of stunning color. Some bulb flowers, such as tulips, will behave like annuals if you live in the South; others, like daffodils, will appear year after year. You can find bulbs for sale in the fall in many nurseries or garden centers.

Planting bulbs in the fall is a great way to handle your spring garden—and not only because it means you’ve done all the work well beforehand. Since bulbs need to be planted before the ground freezes, you’ll want to do it in late fall. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, in the Deep South, where a hard freeze may not occur, you’ll want to plant in early November. Plant a lot of bulbs to ensure good coverage, and if you’re concerned about pests, you may want to consider burying chicken wire around your flower bed.