Planting Fall Perennials for Next Year's Blooms

If you ask the average person when they should be planting flowers - they’re inevitably going to say “spring.”

That’s not entirely untrue - spring is the time of year when we start planting out tender annuals like zinnias, dahlias, broomcorn and cosmos (among others) that can’t be exposed to freezing temperatures.

On the other hand, there is a whole other plethora of perennials that can be planted in fall for stunning blooms next year.

Artemisia - a hardy perennial easily grown from seed

Artemisia - a hardy perennial easily grown from seed

You see, there are a lot of flowering plants that not only can survive the cold weather, but in fact love it. Peonies for example, need a very cold and wet winter in order to grow big and lush blooms (which can be a problem in our growing zone that tends to be warm and dry during the winter)

Yes, right now is the perfect time to plant these lesser-known flowers. Some, such as delphinium only actually will germinate in cool weather, preferring to sprout during periods of freezes and thaws since the swings in temperature helps to trigger sprouting.

Perennials establish best in the fall - the warm soil temperatures combined with the milder temperatures of fall really help perennials get established easily. Although you won’t see blooms this year (or even sizeable plants) you just have to wait until next spring.

Catmint '(Nepeta mussinii) is another great perennial grown from seed

Catmint '(Nepeta mussinii) is another great perennial grown from seed

Having overwintered, your perennials will now be massive. Little plugs turn into quart sized plants, quart sized plants turn into gallon-sized plants, and gallon-sized plants turn into massively bushy plants.

And it gets even better - these plants are so low maintenance because you don’t have to weed or water your plants during the winter! At least if you live in Zones 6 or below (we have to do some light weeding and watering here in our warm and dry Zone 7). But all you have to do is just hunker down in your house, curl up with a good book and a cup of tea and just wait until spring - and let your perennials grow out.

Not every perennial is the same however. Some, like blanket flower (Gaillardia) and purple coneflower (Echinacea) germinate very easily - and like a bit of heat in order to sprout - while some like northern sea oats (Chasmanthium) require a good period of cold in order to sprout.

That’s why I’ve put together a handy-dandy cheat sheet of how go germinate commonly grown perennials based on our experience over the past ten years of growing perennials from seed.

Hardy annuals like this beautiful annual scabiosa ‘Fata Morgana’ can be overwintered for early and easy blooms next year

Hardy annuals like this beautiful annual scabiosa ‘Fata Morgana’ can be overwintered for early and easy blooms next year

I’ve also included other flowers too - the biennials like money plant (Lunaria) foxgloves (Digitalis) and mullein (Verbascum) that will bloom the next year if started and planted now (they need a long period of cold in order to flower the next year) as well as hardy annuals like bachelor buttons (Centaurea) and sweet william (Dianthus) and larkspur (Consolida).

If you start your seeds now and can get them established this winter, you’ll be rewarded next year with big, healthy, luscious plants - all without having to worry about getting them in the ground in spring (when we’re mostly worried about getting our tender annuals started and grown out for the summer). It’s a great way to also plan out your beds and rows for next year to ensure that you have everything laid out.

This cheat sheet is great - I use it as a reference this time of year when I am planting out my perennials, biennials and annuals for the fall. As opposed to thumbing through my gardening books (or googling on my phone) this is a handy-dandy reference for how to start all your favorite flowers and plants.

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If you’re interested in seeing the whole sheet and are excited about growing blooms for next year, just enter your information below!