We are fortunate to live in the Midwest where we experience four distinct climatic seasons. In a 2005 survey Gallup Poll found that Fall ranks only behind Spring as American’s favorite season. It is perhaps because these more moderate seasons provide relief from the sometimes harsh extremes of summer and winter. Those who love the outdoors also enjoy times of transition in our landscapes. As shorter days and cooler temperatures take their toll on our spring planting, now is the time to rejuvenate our landscape and outdoor spaces with cool-season varieties for fall.
Some ideas of plants to consider are pansies, mums, kale, millet, mustard, and grasses. These are all hardy, cool-season plants to last through the fall. I personally love pansies since they can hold their blooms and even pop through light snow. And pansies are available in a wide variety of vibrant colors.
Mums are also a fall favorite in the landscape and container décor. They provide a mass of color and are also available in a wide variety of hues including white, pink, red, yellow, purple, and orange. Colors can vary from quite dark to pale colors. Mums will maintain vibrant blooms between two to six weeks depending on the weather. A hard freeze will bring colors to an end pretty quickly.
Kale brings different shades of colors to your annual beds with center rosettes in shades of pink, purple, white, and bi-color combinations. The lacy edges add interesting texture and they thrive in cool weather. Ideal daytime temperatures for these resilient cultivars are 40-70°F, but plants can survive frosty air as cold as 5°F. A frost will even intensify the rosette colors. So kale will last well into fall and the beginning of winter.
Adding millet, mustard, or varieties of ornamental grasses will provide additional height and texture to fall plantings. Additional décor like pumpkins, gourds, straw bales, and corn stalks can be added with the plants at entrances and mailboxes to celebrate the changing season.
Here is to the start of falling leaves, cozy sweaters, fresh cool air, and beautiful fall color.