Seasonal The Greenhouse

A Guide to Fall Planting

August 16, 2019

As summer draws to a close, you may find yourself looking over at your past-their-prime annuals and think that the growing season is over. In reality, a whole new growing season is beginning! Fall is a great time of year to plant cold-weather vegetables, perennials, and bulbs. The ground is sun-warmed and will remain that way well into autumn, even when the air temperature begins to drop and the snow settles in.

At Chester’s we specialize in flowering perennials of all kinds and have devised a guide for those looking to create a late-summer into late-autumn garden that can be enjoyed for seasons to come.

Choosing Plants

In Utica, we fall under the USDA Hardiness Zone of 5a, meaning that most native plants can survive the cold up to -10° F. This is important to consider when selecting perennials to ensure that they will survive our tough winters and come back brilliantly next spring. For your convenience, we have taken the guesswork out of the equation and offer a selection of plants that are tried and true in our zone.

Some varieties that we recommend are:


A stunning flower in golden yellow, and yellow-orange varieties, likes full to part sun and is drought tolerant.

  • Hemerocallis “Day Lillies”
Large multi-colored flowers growing as tall as 24”, our variety is a creamy pink-orange with deep purple eyes and a ruffled petal. They bloom once mid-summer and usually again later in the season. Tolerates full sun to part shade, moist or dry soils.

Large multi-colored flowers growing as tall as 24”, our variety is a creamy pink-orange with deep purple eyes and a ruffled petal. They bloom once mid-summer and usually again later in the season. Tolerates full sun to part shade, moist or dry soils.

  • Echinacea “ Cone Flower”
As their name suggests, these cone-shaped flowers bloom pink and yellow through the late summer and prefer full sun. They are drought tolerant and are well-known for their medicinal qualities for cold symptoms. Care should be taken not to ingest any plant which has been sprayed with commercial or household pesticides.

As their name suggests, these cone-shaped flowers bloom pink and yellow through the late summer and prefer full sun. They are drought tolerant and are well-known for their medicinal qualities for cold symptoms. Care should be taken not to ingest any plant which has been sprayed with commercial or household pesticides.

This member of the mint family is well known for its other-worldly blossoms and unique orange-bergamot scent. They prefer full sun and well-draining soil and are a perfect addition to any pollinator garden, as they are a favorite amongst butterflies and bees!

This member of the mint family is well known for its other-worldly blossoms and unique orange-bergamot scent. They prefer full sun and well-draining soil and are a perfect addition to any pollinator garden, as they are a favorite amongst butterflies and bees!

  • Hibiscus
This hybrid shrub produces HUGE dinner-plate sized blooms midsummer through fall. A real stunner, we have varieties in rose, white, and cranberry. Reaching up to 48” tall, they prefer full to part sun and well-drained moist soil. Cut it back in the spring for best re-growth.

This hybrid shrub produces HUGE dinner-plate sized blooms midsummer through fall. A real stunner, we have varieties in rose, white, and cranberry. Reaching up to 48” tall, they prefer full to part sun and well-drained moist soil. Cut it back in the spring for best re-growth.

  • Nepeta “Catmint”

An excellent ground cover and border plant and very popular among our feline  friends, this perennial herb prefers full to part sun and can tolerate a variety of soil conditions. It produces tiny blue/purple flowers in late spring and throughout the summer.

  • Creeping Phlox

Another great ground cover plant with a low-profile, producing a carpet of blooms in the spring and soft green foliage year-round. Prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

  • Heuchera “Coral Bells”
All around excellent perennial for any application (ground cover, accent, flowering) as it tolerates almost all light and soil conditions. Varieties range in foliage color from deep violet to emerald green with pinks and purples in between, producing tall reddish pink flowers.

All around excellent perennial for any application (ground cover, accent, flowering) as it tolerates almost all light and soil conditions. Varieties range in foliage color from deep violet to emerald green with pinks and purples in between, producing tall reddish pink flowers.

  • Pansies
A surprise to some who only know them as annuals, pansies are excellent cold-weather blooms. Tolerates shade and part shade and prefers cool temperatures and moist soil. They will survive light frosts and if covered, may self-seed and return in the spring.

A surprise to some who only know them as annuals, pansies are excellent cold-weather blooms. Tolerates shade and part shade and prefers cool temperatures and moist soil. They will survive light frosts and if covered, may self-seed and return in the spring.

Planting Tips

Any plans for a fall garden should be made at least six weeks before the first frost; in our zone that is usually pegged for the beginning of October. This allows plenty of time for new transplants to take advantage of the warm soil and establish sturdy roots. Some plants that are slated to bloom in the spring or early summer may not look their best at planting time, but take as much care with them as you would a plant in full bloom to ensure the best results when their time comes.

Be sure to thoroughly water new transplants often, once a week or more if it remains hot and dry into September, until temperatures begin to drop and the roots have had a few weeks to grow. All plants need less water with the onset of winter; less intense sunlight, shorter days, cooler temps. Established plants should be mulched once night temperatures hover around freezing. Most plants will do well with a covering of straw or other organic material such as leaves. Be sure to remove the covering in the spring. 

Happy Planting!

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