Choosing Fall Bedding Plants
Fall bedding plants are ones we’ll pick that can handle a little less sunlight, as well some lower temperatures. Then there is the dreaded first frost!
Here on the Gulf Coast, it doesn’t really start getting cool until sometime in November. There are many times when we are wearing shorts on Christmas Day! When it comes to Autumn bedding plants, we have a bigger selection of what can be grown in the fall. Most of the plants we have in our Summer gardens here in zones 8B to 9A will continue to bloom well into the Fall.
There are actually a few flowers that can handle a light frost. Pansies and Heuchera come to mind, but once that frost hits and burns up your plants, the sad reality of Winter sets in and we begin cutting back the damage and moving on to the next project.
Here I will be listing a few flowers that I have grown in the past as well as some that are alive and well in my garden.
The weather here is so erratic, so we have to monitor watering accordingly! This year we had rain every day for literally 7 weeks straight, now it hasn’t rained once in 6 weeks.
Many of these plants that will continue to bloom into the fall have had a hard time making it through the summer heat unless you have a nice drip setup. They will struggle unless watered daily. If you can keep your plants alive through the really rough part of summer, the early Fall is much better, in my opinion, than Spring actually for growing things and having a new flush of flowers and growth. Fall seems to last much longer than Spring too, so it’s just a great time of year here.
Abelia are an all around wonderful plant. They are the perfect size (2 feet tall by about 3 feet wide) to stuff into a flower bed to fill that trouble space. They are extremely tough and will grow in just about any type of soil. They come in a variety of flower colors as well as multiple foliage colors. Abelia will be blooming clusters of tiny white or pink flowers from Summer well into Fall when other plants have teetered out.
These beautiful perennial flowers are sometimes called Summer Snapdragons because of their resemblance to snapdragons that many are familiar with. Unlike Snapdragons that fade about midsummer, this is the time of year when Angelonia kicks in. The tiny delicate tubular flowers thrive in the heat of midsummer and will bloom on into the Fall. They are much tinier but are still magnets for hummingbirds and butterflies and many other pollinators.
Blackfoot daisies can be spotted from way off because of their bright white thick clusters of blooms. Native to gravelly and sandy areas of North America, they will work well as ground cover because of their hardiness and dense growth. Blackfoot Daisies will survive temperatures well below freezing and will reseed naturally.
Blanket flowers will bloom from late spring all the way to early frost. Sun loving and drought tolerant, they are a great bedding plant. Also go by the name Gaillardia. Blanket Flower will bloom their first year and continue to self seed and fill in your bed year after year.
Brazilian Red Hots feature beautiful clusters of white flowers that rise above the foliage in Autumn. In early spring, the foliage will start off olive green and slowly change into a fuchsia color with bright pink edging for the rest of the year.
Covered in bright yellow flowers from summer to late fall, buttercups make a great bedding plant. They like the soil a little more moist than other bedding plants. Buttercups grow from a small rhizome and have a creeping habit that can fill a bed up nicely over time.
Chrysanthemums are probably the most well known of fall bedding plants. They show up in big box stores as early as September. Mostly grown in pots for seasonal decoration, chrysanthemums can be transferred into your flower beds and will come back the following year. Chrysanthemums come in many different shades of pink, burgundy,white and yellow. The flowers will stay fresh looking for weeks and continue to bloom throughout Fall.
Coreopsis varieties are one of the easiest flowers to grow. You can grow them from seed in early Spring and have flowers throughout the Summer. They are tough as nails and will survive rough conditions including drought, and extreme heat. Most commonly seen as yellow, Coreopsis also come in red , orange, pink,maroon, and even violet flowers that will literally bloom all Summer and well into Fall.
Cyclamen is an amazing marbled leaf plant with bright red, orange, or maroon flowers that is commonly sold during Winter in the South. These plants need high humidity and moist soil to continue their beautiful blooming habit. Cyclamen do best in full or part shade. Prune off spent flowers for more blooms. In the Spring, stop watering and store the tuber in a cool space until next September.
Dianthus have a very long lasting bloom. They come in a variety of bright showy color combinations of white and various shades of red, white and yellow. Dianthus make great border plants as well. Deadhead the spent flowers to encourage more blooms.
The wispy flowers of the gaura add a whimsical texture of movement to your flower bed. Gaura flower stems extend two and sometimes three feet above the mounding habit of the base plant. Plant Gaura in full sun to promote lots of blooms and a bushy growth.
Lantana is a hardy perennial that does very well in extreme heat. They bloom in small bouquets of bright yellow, red, and even purple varieties. Plant your Lantana in full sun. They prefer acidic soil. Lantana survives the brutal heat of summer and will tend to bloom again in early fall around here. Deadhead to encourage blooming.
Mexican Petunia thrive in extreme heat. They are very versatile and will quickly spread in even harsh conditions. I have a cluster in dry soil but they will grow very well in a very damp area. Plant in full sun for lots of blooms, even here in the south where the summer heat is really tough on most plants. If planted in shade they will grow very tall but hardly any blooms.
Montauk daisies are a drought tolerant plant that grow well in full sun. Great for Autumn bedding because they will start blooming in late August. They have a bright white bloom that can be seen from far away. Montauk Daisies grow to be 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. Montauk daisies will bloom up through the hardest of frosts in 8B.
Pentas are a flowering perennial that are a favorite here in the south. Pentas do well as fall bedding plants and also in containers. Colors range from white to many shades of purple and pink.The brightly colored flowers attract all types of pollinators and are a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds. Pentas bloom up through the first frost.
Porterweeds have glossy green leaves and tall upright stalks with tiny blue flowers forming all along the stem. Its low growing habit makes it great for a ground cover. It prefers full sun and will grow well in poor soil. Pollinators love this plant and will almost always prefer the tiny flowers to other flowers in your garden.
A long time go-to in the garden, Salvia are relatively easy to grow. Salvia come in many beautiful shades of pink and lavender, and dark red. Salvia blooms last a very long time and some are fragrant. The small densely packed tubular flowers attract pollinators. Being heat and drought resistant makes these flowers a must have in many southern gardens.