Best Fall Blooming Perennials
These plants will help boost the color in your autumn garden
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Most people are familiar with the spring blooming crocus that can begin to bloom just as the snow is melting, but did you know that there are fall blooming varieties of crocus as well? Hardy in zones 3-8, fall blooming crocus prefer well-drained soil, as do most bulbs. Fall Crocus will grow their foliage in the spring to store energy for their fall bloom. You can grow crocus in almost any location, provided they will receive nearly full sun in the spring while they are growing their foliage.
Voles and squirrels, love crocus, so make sure you protect the bulbs wither with cages or by soaking the bulbs in a product called Ropel. This will make the bulbs taste bad, but I have found it only works for a couple of years, so caging them is your best bet.
Pineapple sage is a type of salvia and is grown as an annual in most parts of the country as it is only hardy to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think it is worth the trouble. I like to grow it in containers as well as directly in the ground. Give it full sun and well-drained soil and this plant will reward you with lovely light green foliage and gorgeous bright red spikey blooms. One of my favorite thing about this plant is that when you rub the leaves, your fingers will smell like pineapple, hence the name pineapple sage. The color of the flowers is such a bright, hot, red that you can see the bloom from many yards away.
Depending on how long your growing season is, pineapple sage can grow to be up to 6 feet tall, but generally gets to be about 4-5 feet tall in my zone 5 garden.
Liatris, also known as Blazing Star and Gayfeather, are typically grown from corms and a perennial in zones 5-9, with some varieties hardy to zone 3. Liatris will tolerate most types of soil except wet, clay soils, in my experience. Liatris corms should be planted in spring, in full sun and should spread moderately (by way of seeds), although I have found that planting new corms every three years or so is necessary for reliable growth. That may be due to my harsh climate. Mulching them well will ensure they will get through an unusually cold winter.
Liatris start producing long lasting spikey flowers in late summer and can grow between 1-5 feet tall. Liatris don’t require a lot of fertilizer and can withstand some drought, once established.
My list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning mums, would it? Mums are perennial and hardy in zones 3-9 but need to be planted in the spring, and mulched well, to make it through most winters in the US.
If you weren’t able to plant in the spring and want to try and get them to make it through the winter, then purchase plants as soon as you see them at the garden center or farmer’s market. I generally start seeing them at the farmer's market in late July or August. Choose plants that are not in bloom so that they have a chance to grow some roots in the surrounding soil before all their energy goes to forming buds. Choose well drained, fertile soil that gets mostly sun and they will be happy.