Planting for Fall Color: All the Essentials

If your landscape looks a bit lackluster after your summer flowers have faded, a little strategic planting will go a long way!


Fall colors are some of nature’s finest productions! It’s hard to feel sad about the summer ending when you’re surrounded by rich shades of red, orange, gold, purple, and bronze. If your landscape looks a bit lackluster after your summer flowers have faded, a little strategic planting will go a long way! There are so many gorgeous perennials, annuals, and landscape plants that can bring sensational fall color to your outdoor scenery. 


For Fall Color That Dazzles, Try Planting These Autumnal Beauties! 

Fall is a fantastic time for planting landscape plants like trees and shrubs, as well as garden perennials and annuals, for a grand finale to the gardening season. The soil is cool and mild, so you won’t have to worry about the hot sun shocking your plants’ roots in their new home! Here are our favorite varieties to plant in Iowa for dazzling fall color.


Wallace's-Garden-Center-Planting-for-Fall-Color-in-Iowa-red-maple-tree-Maple Trees

Planting maple trees is an instant way to boost your property value and add major curb appeal! Maples are beloved for their distinctive lobed foliage, but those leaves become even more spectacular in the fall as they take on new colors. Red maples take on rich crimson and plum tones in fall, while sugar maples boast sumptuous shades of red-orange and gold. Some varieties, like Japanese maples, hold onto their shades throughout most of the growing season, letting you enjoy those lovely fall colors even longer! 



Also known as chokeberry, this low-maintenance, native flowering shrub has beautiful spring blooms, followed by super nutritious summer berries and spellbinding fall foliage! It’s suitable for planting in full or partial sun, but the more sun it gets, the more blooms and berries you’ll receive. Aronia performs best in moist, well-draining, acidic soil, so you’ll want to mix in lots of compost before planting. Spread a layer of mulch across the soil to help conserve moisture. 


Wallace's-Garden-Center-Planting-for-Fall-Color-in-Iowa-burning-bush-red-foliageBurning Bush

This magnificent shrub sets the landscape ablaze every fall when its emerald green foliage transitions to ultra-vibrant red! Brighter than a poinsettia, the burning bush brings high-impact, saturated color that always gets noticed. Water it regularly and generously after planting, and by the following spring, it will be well-established and fully drought-tolerant! If you plan to mass plant burning bush as a hedge border, remember to space each plant 5–6 feet apart, as they tend to spread quite quickly!


Wallace's-Garden-Center-Planting-for-Fall-Color-in-Iowa-pansy-flowersPansies and Violas

These cool-season annuals are perfect for planting in the mild temperatures of spring and fall, but they don’t love the summer heat. As an alternative to the classic chrysanthemums, fill some planters with pansies or violas to decorate your patio for fall. The best part: their flowers are completely edible, so they make lovely garnishes for all the delicious meals you’ll be making with your vegetable garden harvest! Use up the last flush of these beautiful blooms to add an extra flourish to your Thanksgiving feast—from salads to entrees, cocktails and cakes—there are so many creative ways to use edible flowers!



Local pollinators absolutely love viburnum shrubs for their fragrant flowers and juicy berries! There are so many gorgeous cultivars to choose from, with fabulous fall foliage and colorful fruits. “Blue Muffin” arrowwood viburnum is a particularly popular variety, as its bold royal-blue berries create dramatic color contrast against the warm-toned scenery. Planting it alongside another viburnum variety will encourage pollination—”Chicago Lustre” is a great companion plant. Korean Spice viburnum is another popular choice—its spicy-sweet scent is so intoxicating! Plant it near your patio or outdoor seating area so you can enjoy its fragrance all season long. 


Wallace's-Garden-Center-Planting-for-Fall-Color-in-Iowa-autumn-joy-stonecropAutumn Joy Stonecrop

A succulent blooming ground cover that’s surprisingly cold-hardy, stonecrop is famous for planting in rock gardens and low-maintenance landscapes. The “Autumn Joy” variety is a lovely late-season bloomer with cloud-shaped clusters of antique-rose flowers that fade to warm copper by November. Use it for filler planting in the garden bed, so once your summer flowers have reached the end of their season, your garden will burst into gorgeous color again. 


Ready to begin your 2022 fall planting in Iowa? We’ve got everything you need here at Wallace’s Garden Center. Visit us soon to see all the gorgeous landscape plants, perennials, and so much more waiting for you to take them home!  

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