Our Top Picks for October

If we’re lucky, October days are crisp and sunny with just enough rainfall to keep everything green and thriving. No matter whether it’s drizzly or sunny, fall color is at its peak this month. Although most of the summer annuals have stopped blooming, fall flowers and stunning foliage take their place and keep color in the garden with warm yellows and oranges, fiery reds, and deep bronzes and burgundies. Here are a few of our favorites for the fall.

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Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums (or mums, as they are commonly called) are the quintessential fall flower. These lovely, multi-petaled flowers come in a wide variety of colors and bloom from late summer through fall. Mums make a great cut flower as well. Mums are generally treated as annuals (that is, they are not expected to survive and rebloom the following year).

  • Full sun

  • Rich, well-drained soil

  • 12"-24" tall and wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms late summer through fall

 
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Garlic

You might not think of planting garlic in the fall, but this crop needs lots of time to grow. Plant individual cloves pointed-side up October-early November for a harvest next summer (garlic will overwinter and then sprout in the spring). Hardneck types have a robust flavor and larger cloves while softneck types are ideal for braiding and have more, smaller cloves. Learn more about growing garlic.

  • Full sun to part shade

  • Fertile, well-draining soil

  • Plant cloves 6”-8” apart

 
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Pheasant Tail Grass (Anemanthele lessoniana)

This semi-evergreen grass is beautiful in the fall garden with it’s arching foliage that gently sways in the breeze and offers a mix of green, bronze, and golden tones. It’s a tough and fast-growing plant that is drought and deer tolerant. It also won the Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society! Pheasant tail grass can reseed if seed heads are left on the plant. To avoid this, removing flower heads before they go to seed.

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained soil

  • 13”-24” tall and 12”-18” wide

 

 
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Blueberries

Who doesn’t love blueberries? Of course, you would expect to see them on a list of top summer picks, when their juicy berries are ready for harvest. But blueberries serve a different function in the fall when many varieties’ foliage turns to vibrant hues of yellow, orange, red, and burgundy. Learn more about growing berries in the PNW.

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained, acidic soil

  • 12”-6’ tall and 2’-5’ wide, depending on variety

 
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Carsten’s Wintergold Mugo Pine

As its name suggests, the needles of this evergreen pine turn from bright green in spring and summer to a rich gold tone as the weather cools. A dwarf pine, Carsten’s Wintergold grows only to 2 feet tall over a period of 10-15 years.

  • Full sun to part shade

  • Well-drained soil

  • 1’-2’ tall and 3’-4’ wide

 
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Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental cabbage and kale are excellent for adding color in the fall garden. Try replacing annuals that have finished blooming with mass plantings of these attractive foliage plants. They also do well in containers, either alone or mixed with other fall perennials and annuals.

  • Full sun

  • Rich, well-drained soil

  • 8”-24” tall and wide, depending on variety

 
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Evergreen Ferns

Evergreen ferns keep the garden green all year long with their beautiful, arching fronds. The Tassel Fern, seen above, is one of the most elegant evergreen ferns, with glossy green, lacy fronds and furry brown stems. Trim off any damaged fronds at the end of winter and watch for new spring growth!

  • Part shade to shade

  • Rich, moist soil

  • 8'-4' tall and wide, depending on variety

 
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Everillo Sedge (Carex oshimensis ‘Everillo’)

Evergreen grasses are a great staple in fall and winter. Everillo has gold and lime green foliage that forms a symmetrical, cascading mound when mature. This grass looks oustanding with ferns and hostas in a shady garden.

  • Part shade to shade

  • Average soil

  • 12” tall and 20”-24” wide