Fall Flower Gardening in Houston (2023)

This week, the morning lows were under 60 degrees in the Greater Houston area. Houstonians took their dogs out for walks, drank margaritas on the patio and rushed to the coffee shops for their pumpkin-spiced beverages, barely breaking a sweat. Every year, we wait for the first taste of autumn and every year, we collectively sigh a breath of relief as we look forward to enjoying the outdoors again.

For Houston gardeners however, this is not the time to lollygag. There's work to be done and the cool mornings and evenings are the best time to do it. With no rain predicted this week (except for the poor souls in Florida), this is a great time to head to the garden center and load up on soil amendments, mulch and all the pretty flowers our hearts desire. So grab a partner or one of your unwilling teen children and enlist them in the heavy work. They need to get away from their screens, anyhow.

While much of the nation is putting their gardens to bed at this time of year, Houstonians are watching their lawns and landscapes come back to life. The drought and heat have done some damage to our flora and foliage. Now is the time for homeowners and les jardiniers to make a plan for not only the fall garden, but the spring one as well.

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Some cannot resist the lure of the mums.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

The nurseries are already bursting with mums, but for most people, chrysanthemums are a decoration rather than a purposeful planting. They decorate mailbox planters or sandwich door fronts with their fall colors of burnt oranges, deep scarlets, pretty purples and cheery yellows. For those who love the mums, they must be regularly deadheaded for prolonged blooming. A mum can look beautiful one week and sad the next. With our warm autumns, it's best to make sure they aren't in the sun at the hottest parts of the day. Once they are past their peak, they can be planted in the garden. We recommend finding an area of the flower bed where they can do their own thing. I personally have a purple variety and a white variety that I planted from pots over ten years ago. They have spread like crazy but I can cut them back if they get too invasive and they surprise me every year with a fall and a spring bloom when other plants aren't doing much.

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Vinca can withstand much of what Houston weather throws at it.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

(Video) Fall planting guide for Houston gardeners | HOUSTON LIFE | KPRC 2

Garden centers and big box stores usually know what grows best in the region so Houston gardeners will find vincas (periwinkles), petunias, dianthus, pentas and snapdragons right now, soon followed by pansies and violas as the weather cools. These are planted as annuals but vinca and penta can survive through the year and often self sow or come back from the roots. Petunias are sometimes reliable for returning from seed or roots and dianthus can also weather our winters unless we get an unprecedented freeze as we did in 2021. My personal experience with pansies has been one of disappointment. They look nice in the late fall and much of the winter but they rarely survive more than a season. As a thrifty person, plants that last as long as possible are my favorites.

One of those favorites is Gerbera daisies. The double florist types are the ones most of us are familiar with and they are always eye-catching. However, they don't do as well in our Houston gardens as the single Gerbera. I have a couple in my mailbox planter that have been there for over a decade and they bloom throughout the year. Even though they are in a very sunny area, they get some relief from the brick mailbox itself as the sun moves throughout the day. Gerbera love sun, but not high heat, so it's a bit tricky finding a spot for them. Morning sun and dappled afternoon shade will usually keep these perennials happy. On the front side, they are more expensive than other annual because they are sold in larger pots. The plus is that they can last for years.

Another perennial that can be planted in fall is echinacea, or purple coneflower. I will confess that they have never been perennial for me, but the new colors that go beyond pink and purple are tempting me to try my luck again with the plants.

This is also the time to plant shrubs, roses and trees. The relatively cooler weather allows them to establish their roots before the winter. A northern gardener would never think of planting such expensive items right now, but for we Southerners, it's prime time for doing so. Unfortunately, the inventory can be limited as many garden centers are still trying to sell off their summer stock. Frugal gardeners will find good deals and cut-rate prices but the plants have usually suffered from the heat over time. If the price is right, though, it's worth a challenge.

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Blue Butterfly Bush (clerodendrum ugandese) has striking blooms.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Plumbago is an easy and ubiquitous Houston plant that can grow shrub size. It tolerates heat and drought but will die back in extreme freezes. It almost always comes back, however, and it is a stalwart in any butterfly garden or front flower bed. An exotic plant for our area is the Blue Butterfly Bush or Blue Glory Bower. Not to be confused with the butterfly bush (buddleia davidii), the Blue Butterfly Bush (clerodendrum ugandese) has unique flowers that look like little butterflies. It's up there with lantana, though, for the stink factor. Lantana is another plant that grows into a massive shrub and must be cut back throughout the year. Still, it's worth growing for the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. And its blooms make great bridal bouquets for Barbie dolls.

(Video) Houston Gardening Tips Learn What to Plant Each Month

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Will it be a cottage garden or end in tears?

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Many homeowners and residents want instant gratification when it comes to flowers but there are months ahead where patience is warranted. Many plants that we see in English cottage gardens can be sown from seed now throughout October and November so that they bloom in the earliest months of spring here in Houston. I know proponents of native plants aren't too happy with that idea, but this Anglophile cannot resist sowing seeds of larkspur, stock, hollyhock, poppies and ornamental sweet peas. They each have different bloom times and needs. Hollyhocks are usually biennial so they rarely bloom the first year after sowing. Fragrant sweet peas need cooler weather and usually something to climb. They are sometimes a mixed bag for me but when I am successful with them, I sit with a cup of tea and my semi-Labradors and fancy that I am famed English gardener Gertrude Jekyll admiring my handiwork.

The easiest of the cottage garden seeds to sow in fall is larkspur. They are a wonderful stand-in for delphiniums which do not do well in Houston gardens. They aren't quite as showy but they are pretty reliable and will often self-sow for next spring. They come in an array of pastel colors.

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Bulbs need to planted in late fall for next spring.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Then, there are bulbs. Here's where gardeners can drop a pretty penny, especially on tulips. Though they aren't as expensive as in the seventeenth century days of "tulip mania", they still can cost from 75 cents to nearly two dollars a bulb. When flipping through a catalog of gorgeous tulips, one understands the craze. I usually buy bags of tulip bulbs at the garden stores and put them in a dedicated vegetable drawer in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks, with no produce, especially apples which produce ethylene gas that will cause the tulips to rot. I try to get tulip bulbs in the ground by mid-December and I pick a cool day. There are bulb boosters that will give them an extra bit of nutrients but I haven't seen a difference in my tulips either way. I haven't used chemical fertilizers in years so gardeners can save a few bucks by just avoiding them. Some folks use a little bone meal to give a boost but if you have pets, as I do, they might go on a digging frenzy. I have had that happen with manure applications as well. Dogs like stink.

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(Video) Four Flowers to Beat the Texas Heat

A Dreamsicle in flower form.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

Other bulbs that should go in the ground in November and early December are daffodils and freesia plus tubers like ranunculus and anemones. Unfortunately, freesia can sometimes fall victim to our late winter freezes but they are still one of my favorite bulbs because of their beauty and their fragrance. Daffodils come in so many varieties that it's hard to choose. I am drawn to the apricot colors but every flower bed looks cheerful with big, bright yellow varieties.

Both tulips and daffodils are usually listed as early, mid and late blooming so smart gardeners will plant some of each for a continual show of color. Tulips do not naturalize here, so they are an expensive, but showy, annual. Some daffodil varieties will naturalize but they aren't always dependable when it comes to reblooming.

Another important gardening chore is cleaning. My front flower beds were embarrassingly overgrown by the end of summer. I am slowly making progress on the weeding and in the process, discovering that there are plants coming back from the heat and drought. Once the weeding is done, mulch can be laid down. Then, the mulch can be pulled back in places where seeds are sown and bulbs are planted.

As for fertilizing, most ornamental plants do not need it in the fall. It will only cause new growth that will be susceptible to any frost we get in the winter. I am not an expert in lawn care but any fertilization should have been done in September. Personally, I don't ever fertilize my lawn and it's just as green as my neighbors, though that could be the weeds. Biodiversity is healthy.

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This Angel's Trumpet has survived droughts, heat and freezes for eight years, always coming back from the roots.

Photo by Lorretta Ruggiero

(Video) The Best place for a fall garden: Houston, Texas

Also, it's a good time to clean out bird feeders and baths. A solution of mostly water and a little vinegar is good for cleaning with a scrub brush. Avoid harsh cleaners or bleach to keep our feathered friends (and those little tree rodents-squirrels) healthy.

The cooler weather is the perfect time to get our hands dirty and plant the ornamentals that make us happy and give our homes curb appeal. And many of the flowers we plant now will be a last hurrah for the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds that are currently hanging around our homes. Autumn is in the air and we are so ready for it.

Here are a few local nursery centers, events and resources for fall gardening ideas and plants:

Another Place in Time
421 W. 11th

The Arbor Gate
15635 FM 2920

Buchanan's Native Plants
611 E. 11th

Cornelius Nurseries
Four Greater Houston locations and Galveston

Houston Garden Centers
Multiple locations

Plants for All Seasons
6610 Louetta
21328 Texas-249


Buchanan's Fall Festival, 611 E. 11th, will take place October 1 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with face painting, live music, crafts and hayrides. There will be beer and wine for adults 21 and up. And lots of plants and pumpkins to purchase.

The Lake Houston Garden Club
is holding a meeting and event with Mark Bowen October 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. about Fall Gardening. Bowen is a native Houstonian and Product Development Manager for Heirloom Soils of Texas. He is also the author of three regional gardening books. The event will be held at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 2920 Woodland Hills, in Kingwood. For more information go to lakehoustongardeners.com

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What can I plant in my fall garden Houston? ›

These include rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme. The cooler temperatures bring a few additional herbs in the garden including, parsley, cilantro and dill. The vegetables we plant in October in Houston include kale, mustards, collards, celery, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, radish, beets and carrots.

When should I plant my fall garden in Houston? ›

September is prime planting time for beet, English pea, garlic, leek, mustard, onion, snap pea, Swiss chard, radish and turnip. If you are planting onions, they'll do best when planted in late September! Peak planting time for bunching onions and carrots is October through September.

What flowers can you plant in fall in Texas? ›

Consider adding fall-blooming perennials such as chrysanthemums, Mexican bush sage and ornamental grasses to your landscape. Now that the nights are beginning to cool down, petunias, snapdragons, calendulas, alyssum as well as ornamental kale and cabbages can be planted.

What flowers can I plant now in Houston Texas? ›

Plant in mass for best color impact.
  • Periwinkle (Vinca) This low water use plant has summer blooms in shades of pink, rose, rose and white about the size of a quarter. ...
  • Petunia. ...
  • Phlox. ...
  • Purple Fountain Grass. ...
  • Purslane. ...
  • Salvia. ...
  • Snapdragon. ...
  • Sweet Peas.

How do you prepare a fall garden in Texas? ›

Planning your fall garden
  1. Prepare the soil. Be sure to break up garden soil several inches deep – at least 3 to 6 inches – so seedlings can take root. ...
  2. Mulch. ...
  3. Water regularly. ...
  4. Choose vegetables that are considered cool weather crops. ...
  5. Plant all seedlings before November.
3 Oct 2019

What can you plant in November in Houston? ›

Choose fall vegetables that prefer cooler temperatures and shorter days like broccoli, cauliflower, peas, beets, kale, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, peppers, collards, Swiss chard, etc. Be sure to plant these at the correct times.

What can I plant in Houston in September? ›

The vegetables we plant in September in Houston include kale, mustards, collards, celery, bush beans, and arugula. And the fruiting plants we grow in September include cherry tomatoes, peppers, squash and cucumbers.

How late in the fall can perennials be planted? ›

You can transplant perennials anytime until the ground freezes in the fall, or wait to transplant them in the spring. Fall is an excellent time to transplant herbaceous perennials because your plants will then have three seasons to establish a good root system before hot summer weather sets in next year.

What gardening should I do in the fall? ›

Fall is the best time to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and a wide variety of others you'll find at your local garden center this time of year. Pair them with perennials like Shadowland® hostas and 'Cat's Meow' catmint so the bulbs' foliage will be hidden by the time it goes dormant.

Is it too late to plant a fall garden in Texas? ›

It's usually advised to start planting between late July and mid-August, though this rule doesn't typically coincide with the drought conditions and warm weather we saw this year. As far as fall gardening goes this year, Texas Tech University Greenhouse and Horticulture Manager Vikram Baliga says it's not too late.

What can I plant in my garden in October in Texas? ›

These include beets, carrots, collards, kale, garlic, cilantro, leaf lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, bok choy, Swiss chard and turnips. If you are short on space in your yard for a vegetable patch, grow them in containers on your patio (if you have enough sun).

What kind of flowers do well in the fall? ›

Some popular fall flowers include colorful mums, dahlias, purple pansies and yes, even bright yellow sunflowers! While many of these fall flowers peak in mid-summer and continue to share their beauty into autumn, others will be in bloom until the first hard frost.

What is the easiest flower to grow in Texas? ›

Flowers That Survive in the Heat

Some of the best choices for Texas yards are several types of columbine, Coreopsis, Fall aster, firebush, plumbago, rock rose, several sage varieties and the shrimp plant.

What zone is Houston for flowers? ›

Houston is in Zone 9a of the USDA Hardiness Zone map.

Do peonies grow well in Houston? ›

In Houston, many gardeners pine for peonies and lilacs. Those can be easy plants in northern areas of the U.S., often passed down from one generation to the next. But they don't flourish in the Gulf Coast's heat, humidity and thick, gumbo soil.

How do you start a fall flower garden? ›

  1. Plan Your Fall Flower Garden Early. ...
  2. Plant Fall Flowers Together. ...
  3. Mix It Up. ...
  4. Add Color to Your Fall Garden. ...
  5. Fill In With Fall Annuals. ...
  6. Put Out More Fall Flower Pots. ...
  7. Don't Forget To Water. ...
  8. Trim and Prune Fall Flower Gardens.
8 Sept 2020

When should I start my fall garden? ›

Mid-to-late summer is the time to plant fall-harvested vegetables in your vegetable garden. Many spring-harvested vegetables can also get a second chance in fall, and some are even better when matured in cooler temperatures later in the year.

Is it too late to plant flowers in November? ›

The answer is you can plant as late into the season as you are able. That is, as long as you are able to get a spade into the ground you can plant or divide.

What flowers can you plant in November in Texas? ›

This blog will mention the best fall flowers to plant in Dallas, Texas, for your softscape enhancement.
  • Aster. Aster is a perfect flower that grows well in various types of soils. ...
  • Daylily. Daylilies come in over 50,000 types but are commonly known for their yellow hue. ...
  • Echibeckia. ...
  • Salvia. ...
  • Marigold. ...
  • Petunia.
15 Sept 2020

What blooms in November in Texas? ›

Top 10 Best Fall Flowers for north Dallas, Texas
  • ASTER. Aster is a perennial flower that grows best in loam type soil. ...
  • ECHIBECKIA. Echibeckia is a fast growing herbaceous perennial flower with long lasting blooms available in yellow, orange and brown. ...
  • SALVIA. ...
  • SEDUM. ...
  • ALYSSUM. ...
  • DIANTHUS. ...
  • MARIGOLD. ...
21 Oct 2018

What can I plant in a fall garden in East Texas? ›

EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - Mid-August is the time to plant broccoli plants, Brussel sprouts, cabbage plants, carrots, cauliflower plants, Swiss chard, collards, kale, English peas, Irish potatoes, and summer squash. County extension agents in Overton also say it's time to set out tomato transplants for a fall harvest.

Is it too late to plant flowers in September? ›

Mid- to late-August is often an excellent time to plant fall flowers, as long as the weather isn't still so hot that the plants will suffer heat stress. But don't wait too late to plant, or you'll have a very short window to enjoy your flowers. Check the growing requirements for each plant.

What can I plant now that will flower in September? ›

Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. Plant out any biennial plants sown earlier in the year. This includes foxgloves, wallflowers and pansy plants. Plant new perennials, trees and shrubs.

Is October too late to plant flowers? ›

October is the time for jackets, pumpkins and leaves changing, and generally isn't thought of as a planting season for garden flowers. However, October is the ideal month to plant a wide array of flowers -- including bulbs and hardy annuals -- that will add bright colors and fragrant blooms to your garden.

Can I still plant flowers in October? ›

October is the season to plant spring-blooming bulbs, wildflowers, and many standard gardening favorites. The flowers that don't blossom this winter can spend the cold season in the ground, strengthening their root systems in preparation for a springtime bloom.

Can you still plant in October? ›

Plant Flowers and Vegetables

If you live in a frost-free region, October is a great time to plant cool-weather flowers and vegetables in your garden. Crops such as kale, cabbage, collards, lettuce, carrots, mustard, onions, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, beets, and garlic can all be planted in early to late October.

What gardening should you do in October? ›

After tidying borders, mulch with bark chips, well rotted manure, leaf mould or spent mushroom compost to insulate plant roots for the winter and keep weed growth in check. This month is the ideal time to plant hedges, edible hedging, and move trees and shrubs.

What grows fast in the fall? ›

Fast-Growing Fall Vegetable Crops

Some of the fastest growing veggies: leafy greens, bunching onions, turnips, baby carrots, and more!

When should I start my fall garden in Texas? ›

Late August in North Texas, early September in South Texas: leafy and root crops, including lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets.

When should you plant a fall garden in Texas? ›

North Texas Fall Planting Schedule by Crop
SpinachAugust 1 – August 25 (indoors)September 15 through winter
LettuceAugust 25 – October 15September 1 – November 30
CarrotSeptember 1 – September 30
KaleAugust 25 – October 15September 15 through winter
27 more rows
23 Jun 2020

What can I plant in the fall and winter in Texas? ›

Some of the cool season fall- and winter-planted vegetables that we can grow include artichoke, asparagus, beet, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, collard greens, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onion, snap pea, radish, shallot, spinach, and turnip.

What flowers bloom in October? ›

Marigolds. Not only are Marigolds the birth flower for October, but also bloom well into the fall season. Calendula, or pot marigold, adorn layers of beautiful orange and yellow blooms and can grow fully in about 8 weeks. They bloom consistently right from planting until freeze.

What flower grows year round in Texas? ›

Knockout Rose – For a hard-to-kill shrub that will bloom nearly all year long, you can't beat the Knockout Rose. They're drought-tolerant, heat-resistant, and can withstand the diseases that make traditional roses so difficult to grow.

What perennials can be planted in October? ›

12 Perennials You Should Plant in the Fall
  • Garden Phlox Flame Series. ...
  • Coreopsis 'Leading Lady Charlize' ...
  • Sedum 'Tricolor' ...
  • Bee Balm Balmy Series. ...
  • Scabiosa 'Blue Butterfly' ...
  • Gaillardia 'Gallo Dark Bicolor' ...
  • Salvia 'Salute Deep Blue' ...
  • Lamium 'Anne Greenway'

What perennial plants bloom in the fall? ›

Asters and hardy mums are the two most traditional perennials to grow for fall flower color. Hardy mums are about as easy to grow as a perennial gets. They come in great autumnal colors - yellow, bronze, red, white, orange, burgundy and pink and are usually hardy in zones 5-9.

What is a good fall and winter flower? ›

Snowdrops, also called galanthus, look delicate but are quite cold-hardy. Their petite drooping green and white flowers are a breath of fresh air in late winter and early spring. Plant them in the fall for winter and spring flowers.

Which flowers bloom in autumn season? ›

Dahlias and cosmos bloom during the autumn season. Autumn is also called fall season as many trees and plants shed their leaves and flowers during that season. Q.

What can I plant in winter in Houston? ›

Sow beets, carrots, mustard, radish and turnip seed this month. Add broccoli, cabbage, collard, kale, kohlrabi, leeks and bulbing onion transplants. Start lettuce from seed and/or transplants. Some nurseries have frost-tender tomato transplants in stock, as many gardeners like as early a start as possible.

What herbs can I plant in the fall in Texas? ›

Parsley, chervil and chives are best planted in the fall for winter growth. Basil - Many varieties and flavors available. Most common in Sweet Green Basil. More unusual varieties are Lemon, Cinnamon, Licorice, Globe, Purple Ruffled, Japanese Sawtooth, Holy, Cuban, and Thai.

What zone is Houston Texas? ›

Houston, Texas is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 9.

What plants will survive the Texas freeze? ›

Plant life such as evergreen trees and succulents or carrots and chard in a vegetable garden are hardy enough to withstand those temperatures on their own.

What flowers can I plant in September in Houston? ›

Sow seeds of snapdragons, dianthus, pansies, and other winter flowers in flats for planting outdoors during October. Continue to dig and divide spring flowering bulbs and perennials such as daffodil, iris, daylily, ajuga, liriope, and canna. Prepare beds for spring flowering bulbs as soon as possible.


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