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Native Plants to Fill Your Fall Gaps & Containers

As we transition further in fall you might be stuck on what to do with your garden or landscape at home. When we think of fall, we think of plants and blooms dying off because the air is colder and the sun isn’t around as much. On the contrary, there are multiple different plants that thrive in the fall and even some that bloom!

Even pumpkins and gourds make for great fall décor.

Fall Plants & Native Plants

Let’s first start off on fall plants and native plants that are beautiful to incorporate in your landscape and garden.

Grasses are great to include in your planning. They provide variations in height, textures, and are incredible gap fillers.

Some grasses that will spruce up your gardens in the fall can include bluestem grass, prairie drop seed, and sideoats grama. These grasses provide a chance for you to break up your garden by adding textures. These grasses can be plain tall grass or include fuzzy stems. Sprinkling in grass throughout can weave your landscape together and help avoid looking choppy.

Prairie dropseed
PC: Teresa Riehl

Now it’s time to add pops of color into with plants that do well in autumn. Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean you can’t have color! Calamintha nepata ‘Montrose White’ offers smaller white blooms that will survive the dip in Wisconsin temperatures. White is a great color to incorporate because it’s a good weaving color. You can sprinkle white throughout your other plants to tie your garden together. This plant also attracts bees!

Allium ‘Millenium” is a stunning ornamental onion. This plant blooms a beautiful purple globe. This plant will be the talk of the neighborhood! A good plant to complement the purple are showy Black-eyed Susans. On the color wheel, complementary colors are colors that lay opposite each other. Since yellow is across from purple, these two colors will work together and bring out each other. Black-eyed Susans are typically a stunning gold color, but other varieties can be more on the orange side. They’re very vibrant and look beautiful when they are planted in groups.

Black-eyed Susan

Anise hyssop is another example of a beautiful purple blooming plant. They are quite fragrant, so you are able to still get nice smelling flowers in fall. The leaves are a vibrant green and the flowers are a beautiful shade of purple. This is a beautiful plant to incorporate to get a variation of colors. Anise hyssops attract many different pollinators.

Planning Your Containers

Summer plants that may be in your containers such as coleus, begonias, and others typically cannot survive the cold. Once the first frost hits, usually early to mid-October, they will immediately die off.

Here’s a tip! Next time you’re planning your summer containers, think about incorporating a fall grass, plant, or ornamental vegetable like kale. This will help your transition to autumn. Instead of starting completely over on your containers, you’ll have a little foundation to get you started.

Fall plants that are great for containers are mums, ornamental kales, purple fountain grass, millets, and sedge. These plants will offer color, textures, heights, and beauty to your containers!

Ornamental Kale
PC: Teresa Riehl

When purchasing your mums, it may be tempting to buy the ones that have the most blooms already open because they are colorful and big. If you buy mums that are already fully bloomed, the flowers will recede early and you won’t enjoy them in your own home! Try purchasing them when they are just starting. This will ensure that you can enjoy the blooms for longer after planting them in your own containers!

White Garden mum

When you visit your local garden center or greenhouse, you can place plants around on the ground to practice how you want your containers to look. Grab a kale, grass, and mum, and see what you like best. This will also help you decide what size container you need.

Here’s another tip! Fall containers typically do not need as much watering. During the colder months, the soil doesn’t dry out as often. Make sure you check your soil by sticking your finger or hand in the soil to ensure that you are not over watering your beautiful containers!

Get Started!

It’s best to start planning early so you can easily transition from summer into fall.

Take a look at local garden centers or greenhouse to see what they’re offering, and also start thinking about how big you want your containers. As we near the time of year where we see more frost advisories and warning, don’t forget to keep an eye on the weather. Most fall plants are cold hardy and can handle temps close to freezing, but a bedsheet or a tarp on top of your plants overnight can help them withstand colder weather in late September and October.

Fall in the Garden
PC: Teresa Riehl

If you’re looking for some inspiration, make sure you stop by the Garden and take a stroll! There’s plenty of containers in various areas and our Schneider Family Grand Garden boasts a variety of plants native to Wisconsin that could be the perfect options for your landscape.

Need some guidance? Reach out to the Plant Help Desk run by the Extension Brown County Horticulture Staff!