As the month of August rolls around, the heady hot days of summer start to fade, and the cool weather begins.
While the end of summer may signal a winding down for the hottest, most productive part of the year, your fall garden crops can be just as abundant and rewarding.
There’s still plenty of time! Here’s my list of vegetables, herbs, and flowers that will keep your garden powering along even in the cooler weather.
Table of Contents
What to Plant in August (for a Fall Garden)
Before you break out the seed packets and start planting, you need to know what your winter will bring.
Many crops will thrive in the mild winters of warmer regions, but get them in the ground in cooler climates, and the first hard freeze will do them in.
Take a moment to check your USDA Hardiness region and plant accordingly. This will give you an idea of what growing season to expect and help you prepare your winter crops.
Take note of the average first frost date, the average overnight soil temperature, and other things like precipitation. It’ll help you make good choices during fall planting.
More locally, check things like your exposure, drainage, and changes to your light levels. Garden beds that reside in partial shade during the summer months often wind up basking in full sun over the cooler part of the year.
Conversely, beds shaded from harsh winds by nearby trees or shrubs may need row covers as the truly colder months arrive.
Best Vegetables to Plant in August
Beans are a great little producer, with so many varieties to choose from.
Growing green beans on a trellis or post – sometimes called ‘pole beans’ – is a great way to efficiently use your garden bed. They’ll go upwards, leaving room for other crops below.
Sow seeds directly into the soil and train the seedlings to climb as they emerge.
Cucumbers are another fast growing, hearty producer that’s a classic of the fall vegetable garden. Some varieties are ready to go in as little as fifty days.
They’ll do better as seedlings than direct sowing, so be sure to harden off your young plants before they hit the garden bed.
Leafy greens are a rewarding crop for the cooler weather, and kale is no exception. The fall is the best time to get huge leaves that are far less bitter and with much less water use to boot.
Kale is a heavy feeder, so be sure to get them down in fertile soil and fertilize regularly.
Lettuce is my favorite of all fall’s fast-growing crops. Depending on the variety, they take next to no work and mature in as little as six weeks.
You can choose small cultivars that can be tucked into any small garden space, between taller plants as cover crops.
You can never go wrong with peas. They’re a legume, so they can fix their own nitrogen into the soil. They basically fertilize any bed they’re in!
Peas love to be stacked, prefer direct sowings to transplants, and take longer than most crops on this list, but they’re worth the wait.
Of all the root crops, radishes are by far the fastest.
Get the right variety in, and they’re ready for harvest in as little as three weeks. Their greens are just as delicious and a rich source of Vitamin C.
The very best spinach doesn’t come from the summer garden but from that of the early fall.
The cooler soil temperatures make them far less bitter and less likely to bolt than those grown in the summer heat. Give them lots of light, and keep them well watered.
Carrots are one of the easiest fall crops, great for beginner gardeners.
Plant carrot seeds directly into well-drained soil – like most root vegetables, too much water can cause root rot, and compacted earth produces stubby, malformed carrots.
9. Spring Cabbage
For the patient gardener, now is a great time to plant spring cabbage. They can take up to six months to reach maturity, so an early fall planting will give you an early spring harvest.
It requires more forethought than the more quick-growing crops on this list, but the reward is worth the effort.
Broccoli is such a fast grower with early spring planting that diligent gardeners often get two harvests a year. You can often squeeze the second in by transplanting seedlings in August.
Make sure you harvest as soon as the head is mature – we eat the flower, and if left until open will become unpalatable.
Like radishes, turnips are a fast-growing root vegetable with edible leaves and a very rapid turnaround.
They love the cold weather and will be ready to yank from the soil in as little as six weeks. In fact, the earlier you harvest, the crisper they will be.
12. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is one of the most eye-catching leafy greens. Their vibrant green leaves are ribbed in yellow, scarlet, or white, making them as beautiful as they are nutritious.
They’ll grow just fine from seeds in beds or containers. They’re a bit of work to cook but are one of the most healthy greens to grow.
13. Rocket (Arugula)
Rocket is another fast growing leafy green that takes only a few weeks to go from seed to table.
It’s perfect for succession planting, where you add a few seeds to your bed once a week, allowing a slow and consistent harvest as the season progresses.
I love growing arugula in containers, moving them indoors as the frost approaches to provide salad greens all winter.
14. Chinese Cabbage
Also known as Napa cabbage or wombok, this sweet leaved cabbage is spectacular in stir-fries and salads.
It loves the cooler weather and will produce tighter heads with a superior flavor when planted in August.
15. Mustard Greens
Mustard greens are a staple of southern cooking and are another fast growing green that takes next to no effort to grow.
Plant them in early August, and by late September, you’ll have more crisp, flavorful leaves than you know what to do with!
This is another excellent contender for succession planting to ensure a consistent harvest. They also thrive in containers indoors when placed under bright lights.
16. Collard Greens
I love growing collard greens as a pick-and-come-again vegetable, trimming away a single meal’s worth of leaves at a time.
They’re frost tolerant and grow in a loose, open formation, so give them space. They want full sun and rich, well-watered soils.
An under-rated winter crop, leeks are a relative to the onion with a milder, sweeter flavor. They’re ideal for a late August planting, doing best when put down as seed.
They prefer free-draining, fertile soil with lots of good light. Depending on where you are, you may find they remain productive right into the early winter.
18. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are a true revelation when grown at home. They’re a long growing season crop, so be sure to get transplants down as soon as possible.
The reward is a tight green head that’s spectacular roasted or fried. Keep them well fertilized for best results.
19. Japanese Onions
Japanese onions are a magical vegetable in that they do the bulk of their growing in the coolest part of the year. Plant them in August, and they’ll be ready for harvest in the spring.
They’re a fantastic set-and-forget crop for the fall garden. They’re grown from sets, or tiny baby onions, and must be planted individually in airy, well-draining soil.
Best Herbs to Plant in August
20. Cilantro (Coriander)
While it’s best known as a staple of summer salads, planting coriander in August has some substantial benefits.
They’re prone to bolting in the heat of the summer, turning entirely to a leggy mass of flower heads and seeds.
Planting at the end of August gives you a few months of lush, flavorful leaves before the winter months kill it off.
Rosemary is a tough-as-nails shrub that makes a great border plant. They’re unbelievably fragrant, with just a gentle touch releasing their distinctive woody fragrance.
Give them a head start by striking a cutting rather than growing from seed for a good start, with lots of time to harden off before winter.
Parsley is one of the most frost-tolerant herbs, shrugging off sub-freezing temperatures as if it were nothing.
They’re not fussy about soil quality so long as they get lots of light and will keep producing their strong, spicy leaves well into the winter.
I like growing them in dense, self-seeding patches in my kitchen garden, ensuring a year-round supply of fresh greenery.
While late spring is often considered the perfect time to plant mint, I’ve found putting some young mint plants in alongside my other August plantings is often a good idea.
This perennial herb has a reputation as a real monster capable of taking over entire garden beds, so getting them down as the year turns will give them enough time to establish itself without taking over the entire herb garden!
Best Flowers to Plant in August
Potted Exotic Pro Tip: Let your fall flower plantings run to seed. It may be tempting to deadhead flowers, but allowing seeds can create enduring plantings that pop up at the same time of year for a long time to come.
24. Black-Eyed Susans
August is an ideal time to plant Black-Eyed Susans. With their rich chocolate-colored heart, these cheerful golden flowers bring a cheerful pop of color through the cooler months.
They’re drought-hardy once established and will shrug off hot days and dry spells as the season turns.
Cornflowers are almost absurdly easy to grow. They grow rapidly for direct seed scattering over barely turned ground and will put up with just about any conditions.
They self-seed, and dashing of fall seeds can often result in a second flush of beauty the next spring.
26. Violas and Pansies
Slow-growing violas and their cousins, the pansies, are perfect choices for August plantings. They’re slow growers that provide consistent, friendly charm over the growing season.
Seed does poorly, so you’ll do best with transplants. Be sure to feed them well (you may use bloom booster fertilizers) and deadhead regularly to promote fresh blooms.
Succulents aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of autumnal color, but sedum delivers with little effort and even less water.
They’re great if conditions are dry or you’ve got an elevated patch of rocky soil incapable of holding much else.
They have charming ruffle-edged leaves, and there are enough different varieties to produce blossoms in just about any color you fancy.
Fluffy and fair, the purple blooms of asters add variety to the fall garden. They’re a long-lasting flower, too, with a lifespan of months, so with a little work, you’ll get plenty of rewards.
Asters often bloom better the next year after planting, so be ready for multiple years of spectacular flowers.
Also known as woolflower, celosias are a type of amaranth and share the same bright, tassel-like flowers.
They come in rich shades of magenta, red, orange, and gold, making for a great container filler as short-lived summer plants reach their end.
Direct sow into well-draining soil, and be mindful of your variety – some can reach up to three feet tall.
Marigolds are almost radiant in their brightness, a heartening addition to the fall garden. They’re a great companion plant for your veggie patch, as the fragrance of their flowers will deter many insect pests.
Get them in by early September, and you’ll see a full round of blooms before the winter arrives.
The shortening days of August are prime time for planting chrysanthemums. They won’t flower if there’s too much daylight, so colder days with less light are good news for once!
Get them somewhere with good drainage and at least six hours of light a day, and you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of cheerful blooms.
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