Fall is a great time to plant bulbs and seeds that need to cold stratify in the ground over winter. It's also the perfect time to divide and transplant many perennials. There are even a few options for putting perennial plants in the ground during autumn. Just keep in mind that any plants added to your garden this time of year need to be planted early enough to allow their roots to get established before the ground freezes. Otherwise, they won't come back the following year. Explore a selection of perennials to plant in the fall and decide which ones to add to your garden.
Fall is the perfect time to divide and transplant anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum). This is a simple matter of digging up established anise hyssop plants, dividing their rhizomes, then replanting. You can also put out anise hyssop seeds in the fall to cold stratify, though this can also be done in late winter or early spring. This plant's seeds need light to germinate, so don't cover them with dirt. Anise hyssop is hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) plants can be put in the ground in early fall, as long as they are planted far enough in advance of the first freeze for their roots to get established before it gets really cold. They can be planted as seeds at any point during fall, though they won't come up until the following spring. Black-eyes Susans are hardy in USDA Zones 3-9.
Butterfly bush (Buddleja) plants can go into the ground in early fall, though it is important to plant them well in advance of the first freeze so their roots have an opportunity to get established before winter really sets in. Be sure to plant a sterile variety so that you don't end up introducing an invasive plant into your landscape. Butterfly bush is hardy in USDA Zones 5-10.
Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) can go into the ground in early fall. Late fall is the best time to plant cardinal flower seeds, as they require a good amount of cold stratification before they will sprout. These seeds need light to germinate, so they should be surface sowed rather than being covered with a layer of soil. Cardinal flowers are hardy in USDA Zones 3-9.
Coneflower (Echinacea) plants can go into the ground in early autumn, as long as they are planted early enough in the season to have at least six weeks before the first freeze. Coneflower seeds can also be planted during the fall, or even in winter. They need to cold stratify in order to be able to sprout in the spring. They should be covered with around an eighth of an inch of soil. Echinacea plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.
Fall is the best time to plant most crocuses (Crocus). Fall-blooming crocus plants should actually go into the ground in mid-summer or early fall. Bulbs for spring blooming crocuses should be planted in mid to late fall, between six and eight weeks before the first freeze of the year. Crocuses are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
Daffodil (Narcissus) bulbs should be planted in autumn, after the ground has started to cool but before the first freeze. It's generally best to time the planting of daffodil bulbs about a month before your expected first frost date. You'll be rewarded for your fall effort with late winter/early spring blooms (depending on where you live). Daffodils are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
Goldenrod (Solidago) plants can go into the ground at any point during the fall season, though it's ideal to plant them prior to the first frost. Fall is also the best time to sow goldenrod seeds, which germinate quite easily. Most goldenrod varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8, though some cultivars may be hardy in warmer areas.
Early fall is a great time to plant hostas (Hostas), including new plants and hostas that have been divided. Hostas prefer shade and cooler temperatures, so it's ideal to plant them after temperatures start to cool down in the fall. Don't wait until just before the first frost, though, as hostas do need time to get established before the ground freezes. Hostas are generally hardy in USDA Zones 3-8; a few varieties can even hold up to Zone 9 summers.
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus) bulbs need to go in the ground during mid to late autumn, so they will have plenty of time to cold stratify before their spring blooming season. It's best to wait to plant hyacinth bulbs after your first frost, but prior to your first freeze. Hyacinths are generally hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, though some can withstand the conditions in Zones 3-9.
Japanese anemone (Anemone hupehensis) can be planted in autumn. Japanese anemones have rhizomes, so they periodically need to be dug up and divided. Fall is an ideal time to divide and transplant Japanese anemones, as well as to take root cuttings. These plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
Joe Pye Weed
Joe pye weed (Eutrochium) plants can be put in the ground during early fall, though it's essential to time their planting so their roots have sufficient time to get established before freezing temperatures begin. Fall is the perfect time to plant seeds for this plant, as they require cold stratification prior to sprouting. Joe pye weed plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.
New England Aster
New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) can be planted in the fall. You can put new plants in the ground in fall or divide and transplant existing plants. It's best to get them in the ground at least six weeks before the first frost of fall, especially if you are in an area that typically gets really cold winters. If you're growing New England aster from seed, you should sow in the fall to allow for cold stratification. These plants are hardy in USDA Zones 4-8.
Fall is the perfect time to plant ornamental allium (Allium) bulbs in your garden. Closely related to the onions and garlic plants that people eat, ornamental alliums are grown for their visual appeal and attractiveness to pollinators. Plant some in your garden this fall, and you'll reap the benefits (in blooms!) come spring. Ornamental alliums are hardy in USDA Zones 3-8.
Tulip (Tulipa) bulbs should be planted in the fall, once the ground is no longer feeling the heat of summer. It's generally best to plant tulip bulbs soon after your first frost, well in advance of your first freeze. This will ensure that the ground is cool enough for tulip bulbs while also providing them with time to start getting established before the ground freezes, both of which are essential to cultivating tulips. Tulips are hardy in USDA Zones 3-7.
Don't Confuse Fall Planting With Fall Blooming
Not all fall-blooming perennials can be planted in the fall. For example, mums bloom in the fall and mums are perennials. However, mums that are planted in the fall won't come back next year because their roots won't be strong enough to withstand winter. For mums to be perennial, they need to be planted during the spring. If you buy mums to plant in the fall that you want to come back year after year, keep them in their pots and take them indoors over the winter. When spring arrives, plant them in the ground and continue to care for them. When fall arrives, your mums will bloom - and they'll truly be perennial because their roots will be strong after spending the spring, summer, and fall in the ground.