Fall Flowers: Annuals for the South

Lynn Coulter
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flowering kale

 When it comes to planting fall flowers, Southern gardeners have an advantage. Our long growing season lets us keep planting warm-season flowers like marigolds, celosia, wax begonias, and other annuals in rich, autumnal shades of bronze, gold, and wine-red. Although they’ll succumb to frost, these flowers are inexpensive and nearly carefree. Once the temperatures drop, we can add cool-season annuals like flowering kales and cabbages, pansies, and mums to our beds, borders, and containers.

Hardy mums are actually perennials, although many gardeners treat fall mums as annuals. Floral mums, which are grown in greenhouses and used as indoor plants, don’t usually survive the winter outdoors, and can be composted after their flowers fade. Ask your local Home Depot Garden Center associate to help you select the right mums for your home or garden.

Mums are available loaded with blooms and buds, ready to slip into empty spots in your landscape or planters, and their flowers take many different shapes. You’ll find spider-types,  pompoms, daisy shapes, and more.

Travis, our Muddy Boots reporter for the South, plants pansies for color. “I put them in pots and beds,” he says. “The variety of color as well as the different sizes helps break the monotony of planting the ‘same old plants’.”

fall pansies

Keep your pansies happy by planting them in rich, well-drained soil, and deadhead them often–that is, pick off the faded flowers—to encourage new blooms. They take sun to partial shade, but dislike the hot, full sun that Southern gardens often get in the afternoons.

When freezing weather hits, protect pansies in your garden by mulching them with pine straw. (Learn how to determine how much mulch you need.) They’ll perk up when the weather turns warm again.

Image: Shutterstock/Le Do

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