Home / Home / Tips for planting a colorful fall garden in Central Oregon
Written by Bend Magazine Staff

Tips for planting a colorful fall garden in Central Oregon

The dramatic and vibrant colors of trees, shrubs and flowers brighten our neighborhoods and cities in the fall season. Even in the high desert, where leafy green hardwoods are not found in the abundance they are in other parts of the country, we still get our show. For a brief window in September and October, oranges, reds and yellows are all around us.

Fall is also the best time to plant trees and shrubs, ensuring years of color to come. Read tips here on the best plants and trees to choose, how to maintain your fall color as long as possible and planting like a pro.

Perennials, annuals and grasses

A smattering of grasses and flowering plants add variety and beauty to a yard. For fall color, plan to add a few perennial fall-blooming asters, mums, coreopsis and tall stately Garden Phlox. Annual plants and flowers such as purple Homestead Verbena, combined with the dramatic foliage of flowering cabbage and kale, will brighten every yard. Plant a few reliable violas and pansies in the garden as well as patio containers and hanging baskets, for added frost resistance. Don’t forget to deadhead the spent blooms of your annuals and perennials. This necessary task will ensure re-blooming right up to the last days of fall. 

Shrubs and trees

How do you know which trees will offer the best fall color? Try the reliable Red Sunset Maple, the amusingly-named Nannyberry tree, or the legendary king of reds, the Pin or Northern Red Oaks. When it comes to ornamental shrubs, the reliable Burning Bush will always be at the top of the list. Another great choice is the Chokeberry with its multi-color yellows, oranges and reds. This shrub offers wonderful white flowers plus berries to make the wildlife happy. The Serviceberry is a fantastic choice for our arid climate, with a variety of alluring smoky hues. The Amur or Flame Maple reveal the colors of the changing season.

Make the color last

As the season starts to wind down with shorter days and cooler temperatures, reduce your watering schedule and eliminate the application of synthetic chemical fertilizers. Attention to these two details allow for plants to better acknowledge the change in seasons, thus preparing them for their show of autumn colors.

Planting tips

If you act fast, you can get a few new trees and shrubs in the ground this season, in preparation for next fall’s vibrant show. Fall planting follows the heat of summer, when the weather cools but the soil is still warm enough to nurture the roots. Plant trees before winter hits and the ground freezes.

When planting, use liberal amounts of organic compost to yield a better acidity to the soil. A soil rich in acidic humus will influence vibrant fall colors. In contrast, alkaline soils can not only alter flower colors, but can rob you of the desired vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.

A little planning and your yard will look fantastic every season of the year.

Editors note: Originally published on September 25, 2020.

Back to top