Best Perennials for Fall

Add floral fireworks to your yard's fall show.

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Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: PerennialResource.com

Photo By: PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: PerennialResource.com

Photo By: PerennialResource.com

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: PerennialResource.com

Garden Mums

Fall’s classic bloomer is the garden mum. These colorful beauties paint the autumn landscape in nearly any shade imaginable, from pastel tints to bold hues. Garden mums grow best in full sun with well-drained soil and work well in containers or beds. To enjoy the longest show, choose mums with flower buds that are just beginning to crack open. To overwinter plants as perennials in colder zones, get mums into the ground as early as possible in fall. Mulch well after the ground freezes. Plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.

‘Purple Dome’ New England Aster

New England aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a beloved native plant that’s an all-time fall favorite. ‘Purple Dome’ unfurls 1.5-inch blooms in shades of deep purple, but you can also find asters in a host of other colors. Look for asters with blossoms in neon or pastel pink, white, lavender and violet. Flowers beckon late-season pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8.

Japanese Toad Lily

Trouble-free and beautiful, Japanese toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta) opens exquisite orchid-like blooms in late summer through early fall. Flowers measure 1 inch across and feature a white or lavender background with deep purple dots. On mature plants, stems are literally covered with blossoms. Toad lily spreads easily to form a colony. Place it in a shady spot (part to full shade) with moist soil. Plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

‘Red Jewel’ Helenium

Turn up the fall color with ‘Red Jewel’ helenium. This native perennial tosses open blooms in shades of red and orange starting in midsummer and extending well into fall. Tuck helenium into rich soil that drains well, and cut plants back by half in spring to increase branching and bushiness. Flowers make a great addition to garden bouquets. Plants grow 30 to 36 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

‘Rocketman’ Russian Sage

The color show on Russian sage kicks off in midsummer when lavender-purple flowers open. After blossoms fade, a purple bract that holds each bloom remains well into October, giving this plant an apparent flower season that’s months long. ‘Rocketman’ (Perovskia atriplicifolia) has strong, silvery stems that don’t need staking. Russian sage is a drought-tolerant plant that grows best in full sun. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 30 to 36 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.

Tall Fall Sedum

Fall sedums bring strong multi-season interest to garden beds. Flowers shift colors as they develop from buds to open blooms. Faded flower clusters also add color to winter scenery. Easy-growing sedum is rabbit resistant and a terrific pollinator plant, attracting butterflies and all kinds of bees. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil. Drought tolerant plants grow 24 to 30 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9.

‘Whirlwind’ Japanese Anemone

Pure white blooms of ‘Whirlwind’ Japanese anemone blend easily into any full-sun to part-shade spot in the garden. Blossoms open from late summer through fall. Each bloom measures 2 to 3 inches across and stands atop tall stems that make a great addition to fall bouquets. Anemone leaves appear in late spring, making them a perfect partner for spring bulbs because anemone leaves help hide dying bulb foliage. Look for varieties with pink blooms, too. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 36 to 48 inches tall by 24 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

Azure Monkshood

Get some blue tones in your late-season garden with the blooms of azure monkshood (Aconitum fischeri). Flowers appear on spikes, with each blossom resembling a helmet or hood. Place plants in rich soil in part shade. If the soil is consistently moist, this perennial can also thrive in full sun. Monkshood is an important food source for late season pollinators. Plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall by 12 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod

For outstanding fall color, include easy-growing ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’) in your garden. Low-maintenance and deer-resistant, goldenrod unfurls tiny, bright-yellow blooms on horizontal branches that add color from late summer well into fall. This is a super pollinator plant, attracting all kinds of bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. Flowers make a great addition to bouquets. If you’re an allergy sufferer, please note that goldenrod doesn’t cause hayfever. Plants grow 30 to 36 inches tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.

‘Prairie Fire’ Switch Grass

Ornamental grasses steal the show in autumn, with eye-catching seedheads and blades that move in the wind. ‘Prairie Fire’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) forms sturdy, upright clumps that stand up to winter snows. Blue-green stems and wine-red leaves look great through the growing season. Rosy-tinted flower heads appear in late summer and linger into winter. Switchgrass is a great plant for wildlife gardens, providing good winter cover for birds and insects. Plants grow 48 to 60 inches tall by 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9.

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