5 Favorite Fall Annuals for Adding Seasonal Color to Your Garden

Autumn isn't just for pumpkins and mums. Freshen up your garden when summer is ending by planting classic fall annuals that will look colorful until frost.

Even when summer's over, there are still plenty of colorful plants you can enjoy in your garden before winter 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.

1. Pansy

Light Blue Pansy
Peter Krumhardt

This popular cold-tolerant plant's cheery, edible flowers 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're 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 to partial sun about 6-8 weeks before your area's first frost date.

2. Strawflower

pink strawflowers with green foliage
Denny Schrock

Strawflower isn't only colorful—it adds gorgeous texture to your garden. 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 for long-lasting, continuous blooms.

Buy It: Tall mixed strawflower seeds ($8, Walmart)

3. Ornamental Peppers

red and purple ornamental peppers
Justin Hancock

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.

4. Flowering Kale

row of flowering kale plants in garden
Marty Baldwin

Although flowering kale is related to the types of kale you'd grow for eating, it's more commonly an ornamental rather than an 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.

5. Calibrachoa

Coral Calibrachoa "Million Bells"
Matthew Benson

Calibrachoa is another favorite annual flower known for its bright colors and low-maintenance care. While it's generally considered a summer annual, calibrachoa also holds up well to cold temperatures. It's a staple for fall annual container gardens and looks especially pretty spilling from a 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.

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