Fall is for Planting

Photo by Severin Winkler from FreeImages

It's autumn planting season! Over the next few weeks, the trees, shrubs, perennials, and evergreens that you plant in your garden will put down roots in the new soil in preparation for the spring's surge in growth. The hardy plants you put in the ground now will produce more new growth than the springplanted ones. Guaranteed. Here are flowers and plants to consider during this season.

Autumn colour

When you get to your favourite garden retailer, you may be welcomed with an eye full of fall flowering perennials. First, look for the Belgian chrysanthemums. The best performers produce blossoms in colours that cover the gamut from bright yellow and white to autumn shades of copper and orange.


Rudbeckias (black-eyed Susan) are easy to grow, multiply from year to year and are available in many varieties. Mark's favourite "giant" Rudebeckia is Herbstone, which grows to almost two metres high. A recent visitor to his home jokingly accused Mark of using steroids on them! Other great garden performers include Goldstrum (1999 Perennial Plant of the Year) and Prairie Sun, a lovely two-toned sun yellow/butter yellow in every petal.

Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

Truly a butterfly magnet. Plant this one anywhere it receives half a day of sun or more and watch the butterflies find it. Hummingbirds have been known to seek it out as well.

New England asters

One of the few fall flowering perennials that produce a beautiful sky-blue flower in abundance. They are also reliably winter hardy all the way to zone four (Ottawa), so you can plant them in a sunny position in your Toronto area garden and know that you will see them again next spring.


Okay, this flowering plant can be overly aggressive and invasive. But the fall colour of sumac foliage is hard to beat. The bright red foliage is topped with the pregnant candles of finished flowers – loved by many songbirds all fall.


The really cool part of the Sedum story is that they bloom for such a long time. Often, snow will fall on the flowers, and after it melts, they are as bold and beautiful as ever. Sedum is tough as nails – that is why so many new Green roof installations feature them as the primary species. Look for the ever-popular Autumn Joy (aptly named), the hot pink Sieboldii and Chocolate Drop, featuring brown/ bronze foliage.

These are but a few of the many colourful offerings to be found at garden retailers this time of year. We urge you to drop in and look over the selection of plants suitable for fall planting featuring autumn colour.


Your garden, the birds, butterflies and other wildlife in it are not ready to hunker down just yet. So why should we? There are many opportunities to enjoy the new dimensions of the gardening experience in early autumn. Here are some of our best reasons to get out of doors now:

  1. Morning dew is heavy. Perfect for starting a new lawn from seed or laying some sod, it will grow regardless of rainfall.
  2. Fall colour is in abundance at your retailer. The selection may surprise you.
  3. Retailers are anxious to clear their summer inventory of shrubs, trees and evergreens. You can save money.
  4. Over the next six to eight weeks, the roots of permanent plants are storing sugar for aggressive spring growth. It is the best time of year to plant trees, shrubs, evergreens and perennials.
Mark Cullen & Ben Cullen
Mark Cullen & Ben Cullen
Mark Cullen is a Member of the Order of Canada. He reaches more than two million Canadians with his gardening/environment messages every week. Ben Cullen is a professional gardener with a keen interest in food gardening and the environment. You can follow both Mark and Ben on Twitter (@MarkCullen4), Facebook (facebook.com/MarkCullenGardening) and Instagram (instagram.com/markcullengardening). Receive their free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com.
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