When autumn arrives here on Long Island, cooler temperatures, consistent rainfall, perfect soil temperatures, and even the shorter days all combine to make this the perfect time of year to plant.

Fall gardening opportunities fall into three main categories: 

  • Fall plants, vegetables, and trees to plant
  • Preparing for winter months
  • Prepping for next spring

What, generally speaking, you can do will depend upon your area’s climate with USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map being a helpful resource. Simply click on the color-coded map and enter your zip code. The color of your location is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature with the states within the United States divided into 10-degree F zones. Our zip code of 11740, for example, is in a moderate green zone.

For specific questions about fall plants, just contact the experts at Decker’s Nursery! We’re passionate about plants and helping you to optimally grow them. 

What You Need to Know About Fall Plants, Vegetables, and Trees

Fall Flowers to Plant

Both annuals and perennials are available to brighten your yard in eye-catching hues. Chrysanthemums, for example—available as an annual or perennial—come in a rainbow of beautiful colors: from white to yellow, orange, and red to purple and lavender, even bicolor. 

Other attractive options for fall plants include amaranthus, celosia, ornamental grasses and peppers, pansies, sunflowers, and violas. All the annuals make stunning flowering borders and grow wonderfully well in containers, and many of the perennials do, too. To complement your perennial chrysanthemums, fall flowers to plant include asters and the montauk daisy. 

Add to Your Indoor Plant Collection During the Fall

In climates like we have here in New York, we all begin the migration indoors for winter and autumn is a time to think about what indoor greenery can adorn your home, including but definitely not limited to succulents. There can be significant variations in what works indoors because the amount of artificial indoor lighting can vary so much from home to home. 

Our knowledgeable staff isn’t just “plant sellers,” our experts can help you to choose exactly the right fall plants that will brighten your living spaces. Bring photos of the rooms where you’d like to enjoy indoor plants and give us a description of the lighting available, we’ll help you choose plants that can grow well in your living room and other indoor spaces.

Fall Trees and Shrubs to Plant

“Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Yes, Warren Buffet was using this as an investment analogy, but this saying is also literally true—and while there is no bad time to plant a tree, only a better time and fall is a better time. Trees and shrubs will beautify your lawn for many years to come, including in the autumn season when leaves transform into brilliant hues. That’s why we sometimes refer to autumn as the second spring (one, of course, with a gorgeous spectrum of leaf hues instead of the lovely range of greens). 

Around late August, the environment is ideal for strong root development, making autumn a strategic and smart time to plant trees. This growth allows the trees to withstand winter and prepare for next spring—then they are better prepared to deal with the harsh conditions of summer heat. This means that the newly planted trees and shrubs won’t need to contend with the harsh sunlight in the summer or the freezing cold of our winters.

Fall Vegetables to Plant

Plenty of delicious vegetables grow well in fall temperatures from leafy greens to cruciferous vegetables to hardy root crops. Leafy greens include arugula that gives your salads a peppery zing; flavorful varieties of lettuce; kale; collard greens; mustard greens; cabbage (including the red varieties); spinach (which can grow into the winter); and Swiss chard. 

Fall vegetables to plant also include root crops like beets, radishes, and carrots, and cruciferous ones such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kohlrabi—as well as garlic, onions, and peas. Herbs that can grow well in cool temps include chives, cilantro, lavender, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme. If you’d like to extend the growing season for your fall vegetables, now is the time to consider how to leverage row covers, cold frames, and mulch. 

Preparing for the Upcoming Winter

While beautifying your home, inside and out, for the autumn months, another part of fall gardening includes activities to prepare for winter. Estimate your first frost and determine which perennials you’ll need to dig up to store the bulbs for safe keeping over winter (if you have questions about this, just ask!).  Deadhead your perennials at appropriate times so you can maximize what will bloom next year and clean up garden beds. Also, before temperatures drop below 55°F, bring the container plants that will become houseplants inside. 

Prepping for Next Spring

Bulbs to plant in the fall include those that will glorify your spring gardens. From buttercups and daffodils to lilies and tulips, there are plenty of fall-planted bulbs that will beautifully signal the start of spring next year. These need to be planted before the first hard frost hits with bulbs to plant in fall actually requiring the cold of winter to form roots. In general, the bigger the bulb, the larger and more prolific the blooms will be. That said, you may want a variety of bulb sizes and types for a uniquely gorgeous garden. 

Fall Fertilizing and Lawn Care

From trees and shrubs to perennials and houseplants, fertilizing is the gift that keeps on giving—and should be part of every fall gardening checklist. This is, in fact, the single most beneficial maintenance task you can do to help ensure successful plant growth in the future.

In addition to fertilization, don’t forget to also overseed your lawn. The cool nights and shorter days make fall the best time to overseed your lawn. The grass seeds will thrive because they are better able to retain moisture without the extreme summer heat.

Fall Decor and Pumpkin Decorating

Fall gardening wouldn't be complete without the annual tradition of fall decorating. Here at Decker's Nursery, we provide all the traditional supplies, and more! This includes scarecrows, corn stalks and hay bales—combine these with beautiful flowering plants to create a festive appearance. And of course, we carry a large selection of pumpkins and gourds in all sizes, this includes a variety of cheese pumpkins, snake and winged gourds. While you're here, stop by our gift shop where we offer a selection of wreaths and stems, scented candles, indoor plant and terrarium supplies, and more. 

Ask the Experts at Decker’s Nursery 

From fall garden plants to fall vegetables, our knowledgeable team is here to help! No matter what questions you have and no matter what gardening products and tools you need, stop by our retail garden center during business hours or contact us online any time. Though autumn provides perfect growing conditions, we’re here throughout the seasons and always ready to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall Gardening FAQs

  • What flowers should be planted in the fall?

    In addition to the fall flowers we’ve mentioned, (chrysanthemums, amaranthus, celosia, ornamental grasses and peppers, pansies, sunflowers, and violas) more options do exist. Pansies, for example, add eye-popping visual beauty to any fall garden, with these annuals having sturdy root systems that allow them to handle, even thrive, in chilly climates. Marigolds, meanwhile, appreciate the sun; so you might want to plant them next summer—and then these bright blooms will serve as a wonderful fall flower going forward, able to handle lower temperatures of fall. 

    As a versatile, long-lasting option, plant cannas. They thrive in gardens from late spring through October, and you can bring them inside during the winter. Warning: these beauties can grow up to eight feet tall! If you’re looking for a low-growing bloom that can even handle light frost, plant the cascading sweet alyssum in your hanging baskets and window boxes. You’ll appreciate the light scent of honey when the breezes blow.

  • What vegetables grow in winter in New York?

    When you leverage the protection of row houses and cold frames, there are several veggies that are so hardy that they can provide delicious crops for your family in the winter months. These include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage (white and red), cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, kale, and spinach. Think warming soups and stews, stir fries, and much more!

  • What should I do to my lawn in the fall?

    As a part of your fall gardening, aerate and seed your lawn and then irrigate it appropriately. Once you get into the habit of doing that each year, your lawn will become more lush and weed control issues can almost be eliminated. 

    Choose the right type of seed for your home:

    • Sun: If your grass will get at least six hours of sunlight daily
    • Sun and Shade: If the grass will receive less than six hours of sun daily
    • Shade: If sunlight will be minimal

    Figure a pound of grass seed for every 1,000 square feet of already existing lawn or two pounds per 1,000 square feet if grass doesn’t exist in the area. Distribute the seed evenly. 

    Fertilize your lawn two or three times in the fall, spacing these treatments about three or four weeks apart. You’ll definitely appreciate the results in the spring! In Long Island, applications of lime can optimize the soil balance, given that our native soil is typically acidic. Apply the lime before the fall fertilizer, spreading it out over multiple applications instead of in one heavy treatment. 

    Find more in-depth fall gardening tips for your lawn here.

  • What else should I know about fall garden plants?

    Each garden has unique soil nutrients, amounts of sunlight, and much more. For personalized recommendations about fall plants for your yard and home, please stop by our retail garden center or call us at (631) 261-1148 during business hours or contact us online.