Autumn isn't just for pumpkins and mums. Freshen up your garden at the end of the summer by planting these classic plants that will look colorful until frost.
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Even when summer's over, there's still plenty of colorful plants you can enjoy in your garden before winter really sets in. While trees and shrubs start showing off their fall foliage and fall-blooming perennials get going, you can add even more color to your garden by planting a few cold-tolerant annuals. They're perfect for swapping out tired plants in your summer container gardens, tucking into beds and borders for seasonal interest, or adding a fresh look to your front door, patio, or deck for the fall. Use these annuals to fill in any blank spaces in your landscape as your garden transitions from summer to fall.

Light Blue Pansy
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

1. Pansy

The cheery, edible flowers of this popular cold-tolerant plant come in just about every color, including red, orange, yellow, white, purple, and blue. Pansies are often grown as annuals, especially when used in container gardens, but they are actually short-lived perennials that are hardy in Zones 6-11. They'll survive the winter in these regions if planted in the ground, blooming again the following spring. Plant them in a spot with full sun to part sun about 6-8 weeks before your area's first frost date.

pink strawflowers with green foliage
Credit: Denny Schrock

2. Strawflower

Not only colorful, strawflower adds gorgeous texture to your garden as well. It has stiff, paper-like petals, which make the blooms especially useful for dried floral crafts. Strawflowers usually appear in shades of yellow, orange, red, pink, and white. Plant them in an area with full sun and well-drained soil. Strawflower doesn't tolerate frost so protect it from freezing temperatures so it continues to bloom as long as possible.

red and purple ornamental peppers
Credit: Justin Hancock

3. Ornamental Peppers

These tough annuals will spice up any garden. Ornamental peppers are easy to grow for their colorful fruits in shades of red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and even black. Some ornamental peppers are spicy hot, while others have non-pungent fruits and are safe to grow around small children. In addition to their fruits, some varieties show off their colorful variegated foliage as well. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil. Like strawflowers, these fall annuals don't tolerate frost well, so they'll need to be covered or protected when that time comes.

row of flowering kale plants in garden
Credit: Marty Baldwin

4. Flowering Kale

Although flowering kale is related to the types of kale you'd grow for eating, it's more commonly an ornamental than edible plant because it has thick, tough leaves. And despite the name, this kale doesn't technically flower, but the inner leaves often are white, pink, or purple. Pair it with mixed pansies, and you'll have a pretty, seasonal display that will hold up well to freezing temperatures. Plant in full sun for the best coloring.

Coral Calibrachoa "Million Bells"
Credit: Matthew Benson

5. Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa is another favorite annual flower known for its bright colors and low-maintenance care. While it is commonly thought of as a summer annual, calibrachoa holds up well to cold temperatures, too. It's a staple for fall annual container gardens, and looks especially pretty spilling from hanging basket. The jewel-tone flowers come in nearly every color, so they coordinate well with just about any design theme you can imagine. Just be sure to plant in a spot with full sun and well-drained soil.

Comments (2)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
October 2, 2018
Thanks. I didn't know about strawflowers and calibrachoa.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
September 16, 2018
Wish you'd tag the plants that are "deer friendly," as I have almost nightly visitors to my property in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and want to replace plants that have been eaten.