Planning a colorful garden is relatively straightforward in the spring and summer, but the true beauties are the ones that have color and interest throughout the entirety of the growing season—even in the fall! While it may require a little bit more planning, there are plenty of beautiful fall-blooming perennials to choose from that will begin or continue to shine as your summer perennials and annuals start to fade.
Here we dive into some of our favorite late summer and fall-blooming perennials to help add color to your garden this autumn—some continuing right up until the first frost of the year hits!
1. Fall Swamp Sunflower
Just like its close relative, the more mainstream garden sunflower, swamp sunflowers bring a cheery, bright pop to the garden. As you may guess from their name, these fall-blooming perennials enjoy moist soil, making them a great choice for any particularly damp areas in your yard or garden. With that said, they do prefer to be planted in full sun. Native to the United States, swamp sunflowers attract pollinators like butterflies and caterpillars and produce deep green foliage adorned with masses of daisy-like yellow blooms.
2. ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod
If you’ve ever snubbed your nose at goldenrod for its invasive nature or less-than-desirable appearance, you may want to change your opinion after learning about ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod. This late summer and fall-blooming perennial is aptly named for shoots of golden yellow blooms that burst from its bush-like foliage when many other perennials are finishing up their bloom cycle for the year. It is another favorite among pollinators, is critter-resistant, and is relatively low-maintenance. Plant ‘Fireworks’ in full sun, and we promise you’ll change your tune about goldenrod before you know it! Trust us!
3. ‘Baby Joe’ Joe Pye Weed
Similar to swamp sunflowers, ‘Baby Joe’ is partial to moist, fertile soil but will not do well if planted in the shade. This fall-blooming perennial has a rather compact growth habit that produces tall plumes of pale pink to purple blooms around midsummer into the fall, which emerge from quite distinct, almost fuchsia flower buds.
A favorite among pollinators, asters are beautiful fall-blooming, daisy-like perennials. Their star-shaped flowers tend to start blooming in September, with colors varying from white to purple to blue. They are generally quite tough, easy-to-care-for perennials that are fairly shade-tolerant and enjoy moist, well-draining soil.
5. ‘Hot Lips’ Turtlehead
Turtleheads are a favorite in this category for a multitude of reasons. Their mounds of shiny, deep green foliage make a statement on their own early in the season. Then they grace our gardens with spikes of bright pink hooded flowers throughout late summer and into the fall. Adaptable as ever, turtleheads are fast-growing, fall-blooming perennials that reach approximately two feet tall in bloom and spread to about two feet wide.
6. Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ (Toad Lily)
If you’re looking for a late, late bloomer, Sinonome is your girl. This fall-blooming perennial produces showy, almost orchid-like flowers as late as October and November. It has a vase-like growth habit; its foliage adds interest to the garden in the earlier months of the growing season and is quite shade-tolerant. Sinonome is perfect in a cut garden, cottage garden, or woodland garden. Its beauty is undeniable.
7. Montauk or Nippon Daisy
Another popular cut flower, the Nippon daisy (also commonly referred to as the Montauk daisy), starts blooming in mid-summer and will continue right until the end of fall when the first frost hits. This herbaceous perennial enjoys full sun and well-draining soil, producing white petaled flowers atop shiny green foliage. It is drought tolerant and will have a bushier, more upright growth habit if cut back slightly in the spring.
8. Mexican Bush Sage
Arguably one of the more beautiful salvia varieties, Mexican Bush Sage will grace your garden with masses of spikes of purple blooms late in the growing season. This fall-blooming perennial produces traditional salvia-style flowers along unique silver-toned foliage. Mexican bush sage enjoys nutrient-rich, well-draining soil and full sun—and it’s particularly popular among hummingbirds. It is a relatively low-maintenance perennial that benefits from end-of-season pruning after all blooms are spent. You can plant Mexican bush sage at any point throughout the season, but early spring is ideal.
The leaves may be turning, and the summer blooms may be fading, but by adding some of these beauties to your garden, you’ll be happily enjoying color and interest well into the fall. Stop by Carolina Seasons to find these and other fall-blooming perennials in Greenville.