Best Fall Blooming Perennials
These plants will help boost the color in your autumn garden
In addition to your garden looking fabulous into the Autumn months, fall bloomers will also provide beneficial insects much needed food to survive. Here are some of my favorite, reliable fall bloomers.
Hardy in zones 3-9, perennial Asters are a wonderful choice for the autumn garden. Growing nearly 6’ tall, depending on variety, asters come in shades of blue, pink, purple and white. But don’t worry, you can get shorter more compact varieties if you have limited space to grow them. Asters prefer full sun, although they will grow in partial shade, you will just have less blooms. Choose a spot that has well-drained, average soil. Asters don’t require a lot of fertilizer, so such apply a little compost around each plant in the spring.
If you have a large patch of asters and want to extend the bloom time in the fall, you may want to try the technique known as “pinching”. All “pinching” means is to cut about 1/3 of the plant back in early June. Perform this technique on every other plant. This will allow some of the plants to grow taller and bloom earlier and the plants that you cut back will be shorter, more compact and bloom a few weeks later. Don’t pinch back beyond mid-June or you run the risk of removing the buds of the flowers and will have fewer flowers rather than more flowers.
Tall varieties of Asters may need staking to keep them looking good if you have more of a formal garden.
I know Goldenrod gets a bad rap in the fall. People believe that Goldenrod causes allergies when in fact it is the ragweed that comes into bloom at the same time as goldenrod. Since the blooms of a ragweed plant are brown and pretty nondescript, goldenrod gets the blame.
Goldenrod has beautiful bright yellow, plume-like foliage and is spectacular looking grown in mass. Goldenrod is perennial and hardy in zones 4-9, and can tolerate scorching summer heat and drought, whether being grown in sun or shade. Most varieties are tall, growing upwards of 8 feet, but there are some smaller varieties as petite as 6 inches.
Not only are goldenrod beautiful, but they are deer resistant too and are a great choice for erosion control. Goldenrod also makes a lovely cut flower and are very low maintenance.
Helenium is a perennial that grows well in zones 4-8 in full sun and average soil. A member of the daisy family, these cheery flowers come in shades of yellow, gold, orange and red. Helenium average between 3-5 feet tall and generally bloom from July thru September with a second flush of blooms in October. They also make a great choice for winter sowing (read more about winter sowing here).
Helenium is another flower that is great for the bees and also makes a good cut flower for the vase.
Unlike some of the other fall bloomers I’ve mentioned, Helenium can actually tolerate more moisture and really thrive in poor to average soil. Stems are usually quite sturdy and rarely need staking. Keep the roots cool with lots of mulch and this plant will reward you with up to 10 weeks of blooms.
Helenium will need dividing about every four years or so, to keep the clumps blooming vigorously.
I love Sedum. You can find low growing, ground cover type sedums to sedums that grow up to 4 feet tall. If you don’t have much of a green thumb, then you might want to dry growing sedum. They thrive in poor, dry soils and there is a variety for nearly every location. Just make sure that the one you decide to grow is hardy in your area. Sedum are also a great choice for containers. I love to add a few trailing sedums to a pot and then all I have to do is change out the annuals in the spring or fall.
Do not fertilize sedum. In fact, once they are planted, you can actually forget about them, and they will do just fine. You can also make more plants by simply laying one of the stems on the soil and covering part of it with soil. After a few months, it will root on its own and form a separate plant.