The Best Fall Perennial Flowers
Many times we gardeners tend to grow weary by the end of summer and we don’t give much thought to how our flower gardens will look at the end of summer and into fall. But, you know what, with a little planning your flower gardens can look vibrant and amazing right through fall and up until the first frost.
Gardeners are inclined to shop for perennials and flowers for our gardens during spring and early summer, and we are drawn to buy flowers that are blooming. Again, with a bit of planning, you can also have an amazing fall flower garden with all the brilliant colors of autumn.
Yes, you can plant most of these perennial flowers in your gardens in late summer or fall. However, the best time to plant them is spring, so that they have time for their root systems to become established over the summer. If you do decide to add some of these amazing fall perennials to your garden in late summer or fall, be sure they receive adequate moisture to help them become established in their new home before winter sets in. If you garden in a colder climate, covering your new plants with extra mulch or leaves will serve to give them a better chance at survival through winter.
Although we often think of fall colors as warm tones like orange, yellows, and russets, the best fall flowers include a very wide range of colors. So let’s get started with 10 of the most stunning Fall Perennial Flowers to give your late summer and fall gardens a boost.
Full Sun – Part Sun Fall Perennial Plants
Chrysanthemum (a/k/a Mums) – When you think about fall flowers, I’ll bet mums are the first flower that pops into your mind. Perennial, or hardy garden mums are a great choice to add to your fall perennial garden. If you keep them pinched back during the summer, they will get bushier and not bloom too early. They can even be shaped to look like shrubs. If you live in colder climates, as I do, be sure to look for mums that are hardy in your area at your local garden center. Although it’s best to plant hardy mums in the spring, if you do plant them in the fall, it’s especially important to give them added protection over winter. Hardiness zones 4 – 9.
New England Asters – Bees and butterflies adore fall asters. It’s like they’re just gleaning all the nectar they can before their winter flight or hibernation. There are many varieties of Asters from very short to very tall. If you don’t already have some, I highly recommend adding some perennial asters to your garden this year. The bees, butterflies, and you will be glad you did. Hardiness zones 3 – 8. The asters pictured below are purple dome, a popular variety, that can be found at many garden centers. They are stunning when they are in full bloom.
Rudbeckia or Gloriosa Daisies with their vibrant, traditional fall colors are true standouts in any fall garden. Some of the varieties aren’t hardy in my zone 4 gardens, but I plant them anyway and many times they will survive winter, or reseed. Rudbeckia are awesome cut flowers and look amazing in fall bouquets. Hardiness zones 3 – 9.
Goldenrod – don’t confuse goldenrod with ragweed. Although many believe it causes an allergy flareup, goldenrod is not ragweed. They are two different plants that just happen to bloom at the same time. Although goldenrod is a native plant, some hybrids are better suited for a home garden. The hybrids are 18-24 inches tall and don’t spread like the native variety, so you don’t have to worry about them overtaking your garden.
Helenium (a/k/a Helen’s flower or Sneezeweed) starts blooming mid-late summer and will carry on right through fall with its amazing rich russet, gold, and yellow colors. Helenium is another plant that benefits from being cut back in late spring to encourage branching and a bushier plant. These bright yellow blooms are just so cheery!
Autumn Joy Sedum is not one of my favorite perennials. I tolerate it in my gardens, because I know that come late summer it will be simply amazing. As the weather gets cooler, the mauve-colored blooms get darker and more intense. This is another plant that the bees and late summer butterflies flock to. Plus, it’s super easy to grow. To keep your Autumn Joy Sedum from becoming floppy, I recommend pinching a couple of inches off of the stems in summer. Pinching slows it down a bit and makes it a bushier plant.
Part Sun – Partial Shade Fall Perennials
Monkshood is probably one of the most unique perennials in my garden. I get kind of sad when it blooms because they are the last flowers to bloom in my gardens. It’s absolutely beautiful, but all parts of it are highly poisonous, so be sure to handle it with gloves on. I would not recommend growing Monkshood if you have pets or small children. Hardiness zones 3 – 8.
Japanese Anemone – most varieties get rather tall and look awesome at the back of a border. I have a few different varieties in my perennial gardens and I can’t wait until they fill in. They’re simply gorgeous and would make a great addition to your flower garden! Japanese anemones can take a few years to become established, but they do spread by underground rhizomes, so be sure to watch their spread in your garden so they don’t become a nuisance. Hardiness zones 4 – 8.
Hydrangea is technically a perennial shrub, but I’m including it here because with many varieties, the fall colors of the big poofy flowers are simply amazing and a perfect plant to add to your garden. Some of the varieties I have in my gardens start out white, then turn pink and from there the color just goes into deep mauve right into fall. Hardiness zones 3 – 7. The picture below includes Strawberry Sundae hydrangeas, yellow and white chrysanthemums, and a hint of blue from Walker’s Low Catmint.
Turtlehead is a lovely late summer blooming perennial that just doesn’t make many perennial lists and I’m not sure why. It is a North American native and it has the sweetest pink flowers that supposedly resemble turtleheads. They prefer moist soil and some afternoon shade. The foliage is pretty and glossy looking too. Hardiness zones 4 – 8.
More Perennials in Fall
Many long blooming summer flowers will continue right into autumn. These summer bloomers are especially great to include in your flower beds because of their extended growing season.
- Blanket flower (the common name for gaillardia) is an amazing perennial with a long bloom period. Once it starts blooming in late spring, it will keep right on blooming into late fall.
- purple coneflower – depending on the heat of our summer, sometimes I have coneflowers blooming into fall and some years, I just enjoy the seed heads.
- balloon flower – if you deadhead balloon flowers throughout their growing season, you will continue to enjoy the blue flowers in your autumn garden too.
- Joe Pye Weed is another native perennial that will keep blooming and attracting bees to your fall flower gardens.
- Russian sage also looks good in a fall garden.
- Ornamental grasses are a must-have in summer gardens and autumn gardens. They add a texture and fun element that flowers cannot add. I love the sound they make when they sway in the breeze.
- Catmint (a/k/a Nepata) is another perennial that will add some fall color to your gardens. I shear my catmint back a few times throughout the summer and it just blooms again and again.
Adding fall flowering perennials is just one step to designing a perennial garden that has continuous color from early spring right through fall. If you’d like to learn more about designing your perennial garden with 3 seasons of blooms, Gingham Gardens has a Workbook/Guide with tons of tips, tricks, and instructions for doing just that. Learn more about Designing with Perennials for 3 Seasons of Blooms.
What are your favorite fall blooming perennials? Are they included on this list, or did I miss yours? Be sure to leave a comment (the form is at the bottom of the page) and let me know.
I hope you’ve been inspired to add some amazing fall perennial flowers to your gardens to include some brilliant and beautiful autumn colors in your home’s landscape.
Here are some additional posts about fall gardening that you will enjoy:
Garden Planning (How to Plan Next Year’s Garden)
Fall Garden Inspiration (Plus Decor Ideas)
Tips on Transitioning Container Gardens to Fall
Planting Bulbs in the Fall for Amazing Spring Flowers
Thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens today! I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit. Be sure to share your favorite fall perennials with me by leaving a comment below, or by saving any of the pictures or pins (below) to your favorite gardening board on Pinterest.
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