27 Popular Plants for The Thanksgiving Table

Ready to embrace fall and the spirit of Thanksgiving with stunning natural decor? Unleash your creativity and incorporate plants into your Thanksgiving tablescape with these autumnal beauties. Garden expert Katherine Rowe highlights popular plants to adorn the Thanksgiving table and to enjoy all season!

A beautiful outdoor table is set for Thanksgiving, with a burgundy table cloth, wine-red dahlias in an arrangement, and pumpkins and garden greenery.


Thanksgiving represents a time of sharing, autumnal get-togethers, and the joy of spending time together over delicious flavors and traditions. Rooted in the harvest season, Thanksgiving connects us to nature’s bounty. What better way to celebrate this connection than by incorporating plants into seasonal decor? Jewel tones of red, orange, yellow, purple, and pink – hallmark colors of the season – promote warmth and coziness as chilly weather arrives.

Bring this warmth home with cut flowers, plant centerpiece displays, and mixed arrangements of succulents, gourds, leafy greens, and mosses. Add apples, artichokes, cranberries, and anything from the garden or farmer’s market to create a modern cornucopia. Fall allows no end to creative displays with natural features. Even a stack of beautiful, varied pumpkins draws the season inside.

With flashes of fall color, plant arrangements put nature in the spotlight at Thanksgiving.  Integrate vibrant cut, dried, or potted blooms while enjoying spectacular seasonal foliage in deep greens, purples, reds, and many more. Here are 27 delightful plant inspirations for the Thanksgiving table, each brimming with the season’s beauty.


Close-up of flowering Amaranth plants. Amaranth is characterized by striking, ornamental foliage and tassel-like flowers. Its foliage displays vibrant colors and unique shapes, while the pendulous blooms come in shades of burgundy.
Amaranth is a beautiful annual plant with striking foliage and colorful tassel flowers that can be easily grown from seeds.
botanical-name botanical name Amaranthus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Amaranth’s striking foliage and tassel flowers grace the garden as an ornamental annual. Grow amaranth easily from seed to achieve its prized form and bloom and its edible high-protein seeds, which benefit humans and wildlife.  

Flowering from late summer through frost, pendulous blooms in colors of burgundy, gold, coral, and magenta suspend from arching stems. Amaranth adds spectacular color and texture to fresh and dried floral designs. The ‘Hot Biscuits’ variety features the perfect autumnal caramel shade while ‘Burgundy’ arches gracefully in colors of deep red, perfect for fall.

Aztecs and earlier American cultures domesticated amaranth thousands of years ago and relied on it as a significant food source. This historic grain is now grown worldwide because of its nutritious seeds and ease of growing. The heirloom amaranth may be the consummate plant to bring to the Thanksgiving table – in feast or festive form!


Close-up of flowering Asters plants in the garden. Symphyotrichum, commonly known as asters, are characterized by their showy, daisy-like flowers of a delicate purple color. These flowers form clusters of star-shaped petals with vibrant central discs.
Asters are late-blooming stars with a variety of species in many delightful hues.
botanical-name botanical name Symphyotrichum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 3-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Aster puts on a showy display well into fall as other blooming plants begin to fade, making them perfect for Thanksgiving! Greek for “star,” Asters bloom in clusters of star-like daisy flowers in vivid hues of blues, reds, pinks, and purples.  Aster has small but abundant flowers, giving it a complete blanket of color.

Hundreds of aster species occur worldwide, although botanists reclassified the genera based on DNA and morphology. Many asters native to North America are now in the Symphiotrichum genera and include smooth, calico, heath, wood, and aromatic aster varieties. 

The range of asters means a range of adaptivity, native blooms, and varying bloom times in the gardens. Wood asters, for example, tolerate shade and may bloom in early summer, while aromatic asters prefer full sun and bloom well into fall.  This succession of blooms allows support for pollinators throughout the season and change of seasons – and beauty in the garden, too!

A highlight of the autumn garden, the aster’s bloom clusters are also gorgeous in floral design.  Enjoy them as cut flowers or dry them for lasting beauty beyond frost. Arrange aster blooms alongside salvias, sedum, goldenrod, rudbeckia, and ornamental grasses for stunning late-season color.

Black-Eyed Susan

Close-up of blooming Rudbeckia hirta in a sunny autumn garden. Rudbeckia hirta, commonly known as Black-eyed Susan, is a charming perennial known for its striking appearance. It features bright, daisy-like flowers with golden yellow petals and dark chocolate-brown centers.
This native, long-blooming perennial is the perfect golden hue for Thanksgiving.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

Black-eyed Susan is a long-blooming perennial native to parts of the Southeast, Central, and Western United States. Bright gold daisy-like blooms with chocolate centers arise on single stems in summer and bloom through frost. 

Rudbeckias are adaptable plants that thrive in various conditions, including heat and drought.  Rudbeckias make excellent options for gardens of any scale, occurring naturally in meadows and prairies and cultivated for the garden. ‘Indian Summer’ produces late-season blooms and a long-lasting cut flower. 

Cut fresh stems before the season’s end for Thanksgiving arrangements, or look for a nursery plant (it can go into the garden soon after). Black-eyed Susans make cheery autumnal embellishments and pair beautifully with blooming salvias or darker foliage plants like coral bells and crotons for a striking fall design.


Close-up of blooming colorful Celosia plants in a garden. This annual plant exhibits brightly colored, fuzzy, and velvety bloom spikes in colors such as orange, red, pink, yellow.
The vibrant, textured blooms of celosia come in red, magenta, yellow, and orange.
botanical-name botanical name Celosia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Celosia plants bring flair to your Thanksgiving centerpieces. Brilliant colors of red, magenta, yellow, and orange rise on fuzzy bloom spikes. Depending on the group, Celosia flowers appear as plumes, spires, or ruffly fan shapes.

Celosia are characterized into three groups based on distinct blooms. These include the Cristata, Plumosa, and Spicata groups. Cristata represents what we commonly call cockscomb celosia, with large, ruffled flowers harkening a rooster’s wobbly comb. Plumosa group celosia features a feathery flower plume, and spicata blooms have naturally arching spikes resembling a sheaf of wheat.

Celosia makes an excellent cut flower and boldly adds to floral arrangements with wild colors and textures. Try drying plumes for future use, which sometimes fade to softer tones. In vibrant hues of the season, celosia works well with other fall bloomers and dark foliage plants.


Close-up of Chrysanthemums blooming in a garden. Chrysanthemums, commonly known as mums, are renowned for their captivating appearance. They feature showy, daisy-like flowers of bright pink color. The leaves are broad and have a lush, green appearance.
Colorful autumn mums can be enjoyed in containers, gardens, and as gifts.
botanical-name botanical name Chrysanthemum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

A hallmark of autumn and Thanksgiving, Chrysanthemum plants bloom in profusion from early fall until frost in showy colors of the season. Scarlet, gold, orange, or purple blooms cover dark green leaves in a rounded habit, making them perfect for nursery-grown containers. Potted mums create a cheerful welcome at the front door, as a centerpiece, or as a delightful gift for the Thanksgiving host.

Chrysanthemums brighten the cool-season garden when other flowers begin to fade. Choose a potted nursery mum with full leaves and many unopened buds for longer bloom enjoyment.  Blooms will open quickly on sunny days. For an instant show-stopper, opt for one in full flower.

In addition to seasonal ornamental mums, look for perennial chrysanthemums – hardy in the garden, looser in form, and rich in color. Garden mums are vigorous plants with upright or sprawling stems and a clumping habit. ‘Ryan’s Pink’ is a lovely trailing pale pink; ‘Mrs. Robinson gives prolific pincushions of deep red, and ‘Miss Gloria’s Thanksgiving Day’ is full of daisy-like variations of deep pink flowers.

Coral Bells

Close-up of a flowering Heuchera plant in a garden. Heuchera, commonly known as coral bells, is prized for its distinctive appearance. It features a rosette of attractive, semi-evergreen leaves in maroon color. Heuchera's delicate, bell-shaped flowers emerge on slender, wiry stems and are cream-colored.
These native perennials with colorful foliage are great for autumn containers and pair well with ornamental grasses.
botanical-name botanical name Heuchera
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Heucheras, or coral bells, are North American native perennials, mostly evergreen in warmer climates. Prized for foliage form and color, heuchera hybrids have green, violet, maroon, bronze, black, red, or orange leaves. Mottling and venation usually occur in leaves, bringing multiple tones to each leaf.

Coral bells make excellent Thanksgiving plants as a “filler” option. Fall themes like Heuchera ‘Caramel,’ with apricot foliage, and ‘Autumn Leaves,’ with foliage that turns from red in summer to deep, ruby red in fall, are exciting plants for Thanksgiving tabletop decor. Pair coral bells with ornamental grasses and fall flowers for a color show.

Coral bells also make an exciting contrast to pumpkins and gourds. White and green pumpkins, in particular, create a bold combination with the heuchera leaf of any fall tone.  ‘Plum Pudding’ in deep, shiny purple might make a delicious option!


Close-up of a Cordyline fruticosa plant in a garden. This tropical plant features long, glossy leaves that come in a range of vibrant colors, including pink, white, green, and purple. The leaves are broad and symmetrical, growing in an upright fashion.
With vibrant, glossy leaves, these tropical plants are ideal for Thanksgiving and year-round decorations.
botanical-name botanical name Cordyline fruticosa
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 3-6 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Cordyline fruticosa has dazzling pink, white, green, and purple leaves, making this tropical plant a striking accent at Thanksgiving (and year-round!). Rich in color and pattern, the cordyline’s broad, symmetrical leaves parallel its upright, sturdy stems, giving it an architectural form.  Cordyline fruticosa leaves are long and glossy, enhancing the dramatic effect of its wash of color.

Cordyline australis offers long, strappy leaves in colors like ‘Electric Pink,’ ‘Purple Sensation,’ and ‘Cardinal.’ These cordylines are a fountain of blades and color, perfect for container centerpieces. Use Cordyline australis to anchor a potted urn arrangement, underplanting with pansies and flowering kale.

Cordylines are stunning year-round but bring an exceptional richness to fall decor. A twist on usual fall plants, cordylines let tropical flair embellish Thanksgiving themes.


Close-up of a Crotons plant in a sunny garden. Codiaeum, commonly known as croton, is admired for its striking appearance. This tropical plant boasts vibrant, multicolored foliage with leaves that can display combinations of red, yellow, orange, and black. The leaves are large and glossy, featuring a mix of patterns, including stripes, spots, and bold color contrasts.
Add some bold, colorful crotons to your fall decor to infuse energy into your dining room.
botanical-name botanical name Codiaeum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade
height height 2-10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

To energize the dining room, choose bold crotons with bright, crackled streaks of red, yellow, orange, and black marking thick, leathery leaves. Use these plants at Thanksgiving for the punchy hues of the harvest season.

Making them even more fun, croton leaves vary by variety from broad to waxy to twisted spirals. Crotons pair well with ornamental grasses, mums, and pumpkins or as stand-alone, eye-catching fall specimens. 

Crotons are best suited as houseplants in chilly weather, so bring the decor indoors for Thanksgiving. The palette may be too colorful for some Thanksgiving decor or just the right amount of splashy for those looking for bold whimsy.


Close-up of blooming Dahlias in the garden. These late-blooming perennials produce an array of large, showy blooms in the form of pom-poms, lilac-pink flowers. The leaves are lanceolate, dark green with serrated edges.
Dahlias are magnificent perennials with large, diverse blooms that could extend into late fall.
botanical-name botanical name Dahlia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-10 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

You may get lucky and have these spectacular perennials blooming in the garden through late fall. If so, they’re the perfect plants for a Thanksgiving display! Beautiful, large blooms in many colors and petal arrangements make dahlias the show’s prize.

Dahlia blooms range in size from tiny pom poms to large dinner plates. Dahlias have nearly perfect petal arrangements in varying forms.  The American Dahlia Society characterizes dahlias by flower form in groups like formal, informal, peony, orchid, and cactus, all based on petals and shapes of intricate symmetry. 

Exuberant and dramatic, dahlias add instant life to the garden or room. Dahlias make a stunning cut flower to harken the season’s festive spirit and bring joy from the garden to the centerpiece.


Close-up of three different Gourds on a white table with dry autumn leaves. Gourds are characterized by their unique and whimsical appearance. These versatile fruits come in a diverse range of shapes, sizes, and colors, encompassing heirloom greens, oranges, reds, and even blues, showing mottled or variegated patterns.
Pumpkins and gourds, available in many colors, offer versatile decor options for fall and Thanksgiving.
botanical-name botanical name Curcubita spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 15-50 feet long
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Pumpkins and other gourds offer no end of seasonal interest and creative decor opportunities.  Choose pumpkins and gourds in ranges of color – heirloom whites, greens, oranges, reds, and even blues – to highlight all things fall.  

For the Thanksgiving table, carve “mumkins” by cutting off the pumpkin’s top and stem and scooping out the seeds and stringy flesh. Place a potted mum into your new pumpkin container. Make “blooming pumpkins” the same way and fill them with violas, lettuce, and herbs.

Pumpkin topiaries (stacked pumpkins with plants in between and all around) are a beautiful option, too. Herbs, succulents, and violas create a lush fall look, and you can always place pumpkins and interesting gourds in groupings for a festive Thanksgiving-themed tabletop.


Close-up of blooming rosemary in a sunny garden. The rosemary plant is known for its aromatic and evergreen appearance, characterized by needle-like leaves that are deep green and intensely fragrant. Inconspicuous blue to purple flowers appear on the plant, nestled among the dense foliage. The plant produces slender, needle-shaped leaves.
Decorate place settings with herb sprigs and consider growing these herbs after the festivities for continued use.
botanical-name botanical name Varies by selected herb species
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height Varies
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme plants imbue the Thanksgiving meal. Why not include these herbs in the holiday tablescape? Herbs add a rustic, organic feel to holiday plant decor, not to mention fragrance and culinary use. For a natural touch, decorate each place setting with a few sprigs of herbs.

Parsley offers a feathery-textured leaf in vibrant green. After the festivities, grow parsley on a sunny windowsill or plant it in the garden or winter container.

Sage brings a velvety leaf in hues of grey-green and silver.  Brush a leaf to experience the aroma of the season.

Depending on the variety, rosemary plants range from upright to cascading form.Their needled texture and deep green tone contrast beautifully with other evergreen herbs.

Thyme is the most petite of these holiday herbs, though the little leaves pack big flavor and aromatic qualities. Cluster a few thyme plants in containers among the more prominent herbs to soften the arrangement.


Close-up of blooming marigolds in the garden. These warm-season annuals produce a profusion of daisy-like flowers in colors that range from bright yellow, gold, scarlet, to tangerine. The leaves of marigolds are dark green, heavily dissected.
The vibrant colors and ruffled petals of marigolds add a cheerful touch to Thanksgiving decor.
botanical-name botanical name Tagetes patula
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 0.5-1.5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Marigolds, in all their ruffles of flowery cheer, are warm and comforting plants for the Thanksgiving table. A seasonal ornamental annual, marigolds perform beautifully in the fall garden, bloom until frost, and can be used to create a vibrant potted indoor display. Flower colors include bright yellow, gold, scarlet, white, and tangerine.

There are many marigold varieties, belonging to three main types. French marigolds (Tagetes patula) produce bountiful blooms in single or double flowers up to two inches wide. African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) are the tallest plants at three to four feet tall and perennialize more easily in moderate climates. Signet marigolds (Tagetes tenuifolia) are the most petite marigolds and also the tastiest. Use Signet blooms to garnish salads and serving platters for a pretty touch.

The gold or garnet marigold bloom complements the rich hues of ornamental peppers, persicaria, and strobilanthes. Use as a low grower in a container arrangement with aster and purple fountain grass or cordyline.


Close-up of blooming Nasturtiums in the garden. Nasturtiums are known for their lush and cascading appearance, with round, lily pad-like leaves and brilliantly colored, tubular flowers. The flowers of nasturtiums come in shades of red.
These colorful blooms are great for informal designs.
botanical-name botanical name Tropaeolum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Popular annual nasturtiums traditionally have tubular yellow, orange, red, or cream blooms, sometimes on the same plant. The leaves are round pads of true green, like lily pads, on stems that climb or trail. Easy-to-grow nasturtium lends itself to informal designs with a rambling and loose form.

Newer nasturtium varieties like ‘Black Velvet’ feature deep maroon blooms, and the ‘Alaska’ series has variegated leaves. Incorporate trailing varieties nicely into displays of marigolds, gourds, plectranthus, and ornamental grasses.

The leaf and flower of nasturtium are edible – delightful atop a fresh salad of cool-season greens. Leaves have a peppery flavor, while blossoms are milder. Guests are sure to enjoy this special surprise at the holiday table!


Close-up of blooming orchids in the garden. The plant is characterized by its striking, arching stems bearing multiple, long-lasting, butterfly-like flowers. The flowers have three pink petals and three white sepals. The foliage consists of broad, glossy leaves that complement the graceful appearance of the orchid blooms.
An elegant choice, orchids can be combined with rustic elements for a unique fall twist.
botanical-name botanical name Phalaenopsis amabilis
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to part sun
height height 6-10 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-12

Orchids, graceful in stature, are the perfect plant for an elegant statement at the Thanksgiving table. For fall, orchids blend with rustic naturals for a twist on traditional decor.

Phalaenopsis orchids bloom in various colors – some perfect for fall embellishments. Apricot, deep orange, magenta, blush, and purple blossoms make a stunning centerpiece. The hues of each petal in perfect form are almost not to be believed.  

Arrange multiple orchids in complimentary color schemes among white pumpkins and natural accents like wood, seed pods, and moss. Alternatively, combine potted orchids with cut flowers, greenery, and branches in a tabletop vessel. Orchids also make a long-lasting thank-you gift for the host, so consider gifting an orchid in a color of the fall season.

Ornamental Peppers

Close-up of Capsicum annuum against a blurred green background. The plant features lance-shaped leaves of bright green color. Chili peppers come in a bright red color. They are small, cone-shaped, with tapered tips.
Vibrant pops of color from ornamental peppers spice up autumn-themed arrangements.
botanical-name botanical name Capsicum annuum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Ornamental peppers dazzle as shiny pops of color among dark purple and green leaves.  Prolific peppers in red, purple, orange, yellow, and white (sometimes on a single plant) thrive in the heat of summer, fruiting into the fall.  

Many ornamental peppers are technically edible, although they often don’t have the rich pepper flavors we expect from ones grown for their culinary purposes. The peppers can be intensely hot and are best enjoyed as visual interest. 

Plants are available in compact and dwarf varieties, perfect for fall containers and overwintering indoors. The peppers range in size from long candles to rounded pearls; some are flashes of fiery color, while others are deep and dark in chocolate and mahogany.

Ornamental peppers deserve a spot in the autumn-themed planting. Opt for deep-toned varieties like ‘Black Pearl,’ ‘Purple Flash,’ and ‘Autumn Time’ to contrast highly with other showy blooms of the season. Nestle compact ornamental peppers amongst a tabletop display of marigolds, pumpkins, pansies, and aster.


Close-up of blooming Osteospermum in the garden. Osteospermum, also known as the African Daisy, is a captivating late-blooming perennial that graces the landscape with its daisy-like flowers. These flowers are characterized by central discs surrounded by colorful ray petals, showing a striking contrast in colors, such as pink and bright orange. The plant's foliage consists of strappy, green leaves that provide a lush backdrop to the vivid blooms.
African daisy blooms in late fall with daisy-like flowers, often in autumnal hues, making them ideal for floral arrangements.
botanical-name botanical name Osteospermum spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to part sun
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Osteospermum, also called African daisy, is a late-bloomer that welcomes the cool weather of fall. with a profusion of daisy-like flowers. Osteospermum require cooler weather to bloom, making them ideal for fall and spring florals.

Daisy flowers have central discs with tubular florets surrounded by colorful ray petals. Some even have little “spoons” on each petal’s end; look for ‘Whirligig’ to spark interest with its scalloped, spoon-shaped petals in white and deep purple. 

Opt for an osteospermum in fall color tones like burnt orange, yellow, and coral for an autumnal complement. African daisies make a beautiful cut flower and are stunning in a pot to accentuate the season.

Persian Shield

Close-up of a Strobilanthes dyerianus plant in a garden. Strobilanthes dyerianus, also known as Persian Shield, is a visually striking tropical plant prized for its iridescent purple leaves outlined with deep green margins.The long, lance-shaped leaves have a metallic royal purple color, giving the plant an architectural and captivating form.
Persian shield boasts striking iridescent purple leaves with deep green edges.
botanical-name botanical name Strobilanthes dyerianus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 10-11

Strobilanthes, or Persian shield, is a striking tropical plant with iridescent purple leaves edged in deep green. The long, lance-shaped leaves reach a full color of metallic royal purple and yield a lush look indoors or out, ideal for growing in containers or as a warm-season specimen.

Strobilanthes can last years as a houseplant that can be moved outdoors in warmer seasons and pinched back to promote full form and color. For custom fall colors, bring your Persian shield inside to accent the warmer tones of the season.  

Consider using strobilanthes in foliar contrast to variegated, lime-green, or chartreuse-colored foliage as a highlight for the Thanksgiving table. Its colorful foliage combines nicely with silver plants like dusty miller and white, lavender, or purple flowers. Marigolds, too, give the perfect pop for vibrant contrast to darker leaves.


Close-up of a flowering Plectranthus fruticosus plant in a garden. Plectranthus fruticosus is a striking fall bloomer with tall, graceful bloom spikes. Its blossoms are a lovely shade of lilac and deep purple. The plant features upright bloom spires that rise above deep green leaves
The spiky lilac and deep purple blooms of Plectranthus appear in September to November.
botanical-name botanical name Plectranthus fruticosus
sun-requirements sun requirements Part to full shade
height height 3-4 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Plectranthus fruticosus features glorious bloom spikes emerging from September through November. With lilac and deep purple flowers, this stunning fall bloomer is worth the wait. 

Upright bloom spires float above deep green leaves in a loose habit. The violet blooms stand out among muted rust and gold hues of seasonal color. Consider pairing with coral bells in apricot or lime and deep tones of ornamental peppers.  

Plectranthus is a tender perennial or annual to bring indoors in cold climates, just in time for late fall temperatures. Unique in the garden, use plectranthus at Thanksgiving to add interest to the tablescape’s mixed arrangement.

Purple Fountain Grass

Close-up of a Pennisetum alopecuroides plant in a garden. Pennisetum alopecuroides, also known as fountain grass, is a graceful ornamental grass that enhances the fall landscape with its elegant appearance. This plant features arching, feathery seedheads in rich red-purple hues that rise above its strappy, deep green blades.
Ornamental grasses offer movement and color in the fall landscape and can be used for indoor holiday decor.
botanical-name botanical name Pennisetum alopecuroides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to part shade
height height 2.6-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Ornamental grasses bring graceful movement and color to the fall landscape; think of using them to add a splash to indoor holiday decorations with tall, feathery plumes and blades in deep tones. Rich red-purple seedheads arch among the purple strappy blades of fountain grass, making a gorgeous central container decoration. Soften with blooms like violas, echinacea, and other fall flowers and greenery.  

To decorate on a smaller scale, look for dwarf varieties or small containers of ornamental grasses to complement your decorating color scheme. Pennisetum varieties like ‘Bunny Ears’ are a fun choice, too, with adorable fuzzy white plumes in fall.  

For a larger statement piece, turn to ornamental millet ‘Purple Majesty’ instead of or to complement an ornamental grass. Millet is a grain that makes a striking fall plant with a tall, corn-like habit but with dark purple leaves and seeds.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Close-up of blooming Sedum 'Autumn Joy' in a sunny garden. This plant produces clusters of tiny, star-like flowers that start as large pink blooms and gradually deepen to a rich rose-red shade. The flowers are displayed in large, flattened heads atop stems bearing grayish-green, succulent leaves.
This perennial succulent with star-like pink flowers that turn deep rose-red adds unique color and texture to the garden.
botanical-name botanical name Hylotelephium ‘Autumn Joy’
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1.5-2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ is a perennial flowering succulent with tiny, star-like flowers in the fall. Blossoms emerge in large pink clusters and gradually become deep rose-red, fading to copper as they mature. Flowers appear in large, flattened heads atop stems that bear grayish-green leaves.

This joyful late bloomer brings unusual color and texture to the garden and fall floral displays. Spring through summer, the sedum’s broad leaves create a lovely backdrop or underplanting among summer bloomers and foliage interests like salvias, coleus, and ornamental grasses.

Enjoy ‘Autumn Joy’ in floral designs with other succulents, fall blooms like pansies, and finer-leaved plants for contrast. Dried flower heads make a beautiful arrangement, too, like many of our favorite Thanksgiving bloom options.


Close-up of Antirrhinum majus blooming in the garden. Antirrhinum majus, commonly known as snapdragon. The flowers are bright pink and delicate creamy peach. The flowers are small, tubular, reminiscent of dragon mouths, collected in vertical inflorescences.
These plants are classic garden beauties with bright colors, attracting pollinators and serving as cut flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Antirrhinum majus
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 0.5-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 7-10

Snapdragons are a classic beauty in the garden with yellow, red, pink, peach, or coral bloom spikes – just to name a few! They are cultivated in bold colors, pastels, and bi-colors. Snaps are prized for their various colors and uses in the cool season landscape. Snapdragons attract pollinators, grow well in containers, and make showy cut flowers.

Snapdragon varieties are dwarf, intermediate, or tall, depending on stem height. Tall varieties perform well behind smaller annuals and greens in a border and are suited for cut flower arrangements.  Dwarf and intermediate varieties perform well in front of the display garden and pots.  This nostalgic garden flower spans generations with varieties available in warm autumn colors, like ‘Orange Wonder’ and ‘Night and Day’, in deep burgundy.

Snaps make a beautiful cut flower or spray table arrangement. Showcase with asters, marigolds, and violas for a full-color display. Snaps also make a fun arrangement for the kids’ table, where little ones can squeeze singular flower “snouts” to reveal snapping dragons. The origin of the botanical name is from the Greek anti, meaning “like,” and rhis, meaning “nose” or “snout”. This is a fun and intensely-hued garden favorite to grace the Thanksgiving season.


Close-up of blooming Strawflowers in the garden. Strawflowers are a warm-season annual known for their stiff, papery flowers, which come in a range of colors such as white, yellow, orange, pink, and red. The flowers resemble daisies, with disk florets in the center and colorful ray petals surrounding them. The leaves are soft and lush.
These warm-season annuals with long-lasting papery blooms in various colors add a perfect touch to the holiday table.
botanical-name botanical name Xerochrysum bracteatum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-5 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 8-10

Strawflower is a warm-season annual for most of us, with long-lasting blooms from spring until the first frost. Characterized by stiff, papery flowers, strawflowers bloom in white, yellow, orange, pink, and red. These hues of the season make a perfect addition to the holiday table.

Strawflowers resemble daisies in form with disk florets and surrounding rays of color.  Depending on the variety, flowers may have single or double rays and range from one inch to three inches across. Placed in a bunch or bouquet, strawflowers vividly impact floral design.

Cut or dry fresh strawflowers for use in arrangements – strawflowers retain their color when cut and dried.  With these abilities to persist in flower, it’s no wonder they’re also called “everlastings.” With unique bracts and paper texture, strawflowers may be a fun addition to the kids’ table, letting them touch and feel these wild blooms that feel like straw.


Close-up of succulents in a beautiful white decorative pot on a table. Succulents such as String-of-pearls, Pachyveria, Echeveria, haworthia and others grow in the pot. They have beautiful succulent leaves of different shapes and colors.
Sedums, echeverias, and crassula succulents offer varied sizes, forms, and textures.
botanical-name botanical name Varies
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height Varies
hardiness-zones hardiness zones Varies

Succulents such as sedums, echeverias, crassulas, and more offer color and texture for a creative Thanksgiving table display. These plants let us play with varying scale and form, from spiky to flat-leaved to trailing, and with thick, fleshy foliage.  

Succulents’ assorted sizes make them all the more fun. Teensy propagules can be tucked in amongst medium and more enormous plants to create a full display. Trailing succulents like Senecio ‘String of Pearls’ bring high contrast to the rosettes of echeverias, pointed aloe leaves, and rounded kalanchoes.

To delight guests, make a pumpkin succulent “pot.” Cut the top and stem off a pumpkin, scoop and smooth out the inside, and use the pumpkin as a bowl to hold adorable assorted succulents that burst from the top. Or use succulents along with fresh herbs, fruits, leafy greens, gourds, and mosses in a modern cornucopia display. Mini-succulents in decorative pots make charming place settings and a token for guests to take home.


Close-up of blooming sunflowers in a sunny garden. The large, daisy-like flowers boast central disks with tubular florets surrounded by colorful ray petals, forming a classic sunflower appearance. The leaves are green and broad, creating a lush backdrop for the vibrant blossoms.
A North American flower with historical significance, sunflowers come in various shades of yellow, orange, garnet, and cream.
botanical-name botanical name Helianthus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-15 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Sunflowers evoke sunny days and blue skies that last into fall. Blooms match the harvest palette in every shade of yellow, orange, garnet, and cream. Their cheery faces and nodding heads represent the quintessential North American flower that has migrated worldwide as an ornamental, a crop, and a celebrated bloom (think of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers with large blooms dripping in rich yellows).

Indigenous tribes cultivated Helianthus annuus thousands of years ago from wild species, relying on sunflower seeds in complete form, ground, and oils. Today, sunflowers are one of the most important crops grown annually for edible oils. Further, sunflower seeds are beneficial for both people and wildlife. 

They are easily grown from seed in sunny garden spots. If planting your sunflowers in the summer, plant in succession or consider growing in pots indoors to extend the blooms for autumn enjoyment.

Sunflowers are intertwined in our culture, and with such striking blooms, they may create the perfect Thanksgiving connection. They produce long-lasting flowers to anchor a tabletop centerpiece or can stand alone in a pot or vase, bringing visual appeal and bold flowers to fall festivities.

Swiss Chard

Close-up of a Swiss chard in the garden. Swiss chard is characterized by its soft, leafy green foliage and vibrant, colorful stems. The plant produces thick, fleshy stems in bright colors of yellow, orange and pink. The leaves are large, wide, oval shaped with a wrinkled texture.
The bright, colorful stems and mild flavor of Swiss Chard make it a versatile addition to Thanksgiving meals and table displays.
botanical-name botanical name Beta vulgaris
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Swiss chard is a soft, leafy green with bright stems and lush foliage. Fresh or cooked, swiss chard has a mild flavor and is easy to incorporate into the Thanksgiving meal. It can also offer brilliant color in a seasonal plant display – a dual theme among some of our tabletop choices.

Swiss chard is believed to have been cultivated from a wild beet species thousands of years ago. Swiss chard can be quickly grown from seed or purchased in the cool season. Sow seeds frequently for a continual supply of young leafy greens, beautiful atop a salad.

Varieties like ‘Five Color Silverbeet’ feature brightly colored stems against deep green leaves. A unique component to the autumnal table, swiss chard is lovely in combination with violas and snapdragons. Like violas, swiss chard may show best in a pot or concealed container to avoid wilt.

Thanksgiving Cactus

Close-up of a blooming Schlumbergera truncata in a clay pot on a windowsill. Schlumbergera truncata, commonly known as the Thanksgiving cactus, is a unique plant with distinctive characteristics. It features flattened, succulent stems composed of segmented, leaf-like sections. Each stem segment is serrated and has a scalloped or toothed edge, making it resemble a crab claw. These stems are dark green in color. Thanksgiving cactus produces beautiful, tubular flowers in bright coral color.
The Thanksgiving cactus, blooming for four to six weeks in the fall, is a delightful addition to the holiday cactus family.
botanical-name botanical name Schlumgera truncata
sun-requirements sun requirements Part shade
height height 2 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 9-11

Joining the famous Christmas cactus and the Easter cactus is the Thanksgiving cactus. Aptly named for its bloom time, the Thanksgiving cactus blooms for four to six weeks near the holiday. Buds emerge along branches in late summer and become billowy blooms in fall, ranging from white to pink to red.

Thanksgiving cactus resembles its holiday cacti cousins, with the main distinction being more sharply pointed leaves and its bloom time. Thanksgiving cactus relies on shorter and cooler days to bloom, a true harbinger of the season.  

All three types of holiday cacti are easy-care, long-lived houseplants with year-round interest in addition to their exotic blooms. Don’t forget the Thanksgiving host – Thanksgiving cactus makes a thoughtful gift that lasts beyond the festivities.


Close-up of blooming Violas on a blurred green background. Violas are charming cool-season plants known for their dainty and delightful appearance. These low-growing, clump-forming plants feature heart-shaped or rounded leaves with scalloped edges. Their vibrant and cheerful flowers come in various colors and combinations, including shades of purple, yellow, white and orange. Viola flowers have a characteristic "face" with a lower petal acting as a landing pad for pollinators and two side petals resembling "ears."
The colorful blooms of violas are ideal for cool-season gardens, containers, and window boxes.
botanical-name botanical name Viola spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to part sun
height height 6 inches
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Violas, available in numerous varieties and colors, are the perfect blooming annual to bring to the cool-season garden. With a profusion of blooms and a compact form, violas create a lively border for the garden bed and are a cheerful addition to garden containers, hanging baskets, and window boxes in fall, winter, and spring.

Violas represent the petite blooms of Johnny jump-ups and the more significant, colorful pansy flowers. With so many varieties to choose from, in almost endless shades and combinations of color, picking out annual violas and pansies is nearly as joyful as the extended cheer they will bring to the display. Violas and pansies have delicate stems; consider using them as potted displays or in their bedding cell pack tucked into a tabletop planting design.

Consider autumnal petal tones like deep purple, orange with purple wings, clear yellow, coppery orange, and a velvety red at Thanksgiving. Nursery select mixes offer sweet combinations for the holiday table display. Bonus – violas are edible and make a lovely garnish for holiday dessert

Final Thoughts

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to add flourish to the home with natural materials.  Whether decorating the Thanksgiving table with cut flowers, dried arrangments, or pots and planters, plants make a spectacular cornerstone of seasonal themes. Don’t forget the fall foliage – bring branches with glowing leaves inside for added fall flavor.  

We hope your cornucopia overflows this Thanksgiving with the bounty of the season’s harvest!

A gloved gardener holds up a pile of recently harvested red onion bulbs in the late fall garden.


17 Crops to Plant in November

Autumn’s end doesn’t mean the gardening season is over! Former organic farmer Logan Hailey has tips for 17 November crops you can grow with or without protection based on your zone.