Sometimes it’s hard to think ahead in the garden. In the spring, we’re wooed by all the lovely flowers at the garden centre after a petal-less winter. But with a little planning, it’s possible to have consistent blooms in the garden from spring through to the first frost—or snow!—in the fall. Of course, annuals always fit the bill, but why not add some dependable perennials to the garden for that sure-thing pop of colour? I’ve gathered a list of some eye-catching, fall-blooming flowers that will bloom from late summer through the fall.
If you’d rather take some time over the winter to plot out where you’ll place any new garden additions, make your list through the fall months. Take a walk through the neighbourhood (don’t be afraid to ask a fellow gardener for plant names) or visit your local garden centre to see what’s blooming.
Fall-blooming flowers to add to your must-have plant list
My neighbour has a thriving Japanese anemone at the very front of her garden with some gorgeous pinkish-white blooms. I’m hoping the one I bought in 2016, ‘Pamina’, will eventually reach that size. I will say that it’s one of the last plants to come up in the spring. If you plant one, mark the spot and be patient. This stunner is hardy from zone 4 to 7, enjoys partial shade, and once established, grows to be about 12 inches high. Also on my list is 2016’s Perennial Plant of the Year, according to the Perennial Plant Association, ‘Honorine Jobert’.
Butterfly bush (Buddleia)
After the harsh winter of 2017/18, my two butterfly bushes that usually grow to be so tall and majestic did not come back. However, they are among my favourite late-summer/fall-blooming flowers because they are always absolutely covered in pollinators, right up until the end of the season. I have a couple of photos on Instagram from mid-October that show off their popularity with the local bees and butterflies. Buddleia, aka butterfly bush, is hardy from zones 5 to 9, and deer resistant.
I was introduced to the magic of sedum in the garden of my first home. ‘Autumn Joy’ thrived in the hot, dry front garden, was easy to divide when it got too big, and became a bee magnet when it bloomed in late summer. Since then, I’ve added a few to my the garden of my current home—and a little yellow variety (that resembles ‘Lemon Ball’) has added itself to my gardens. I’ve planted ‘Sunsparkler Lime Zinger’ in a fall container arrangement, as well. A couple of years ago, I brought a deep burgundy specimen home from a plant sale to plant near the road. I came out one day to find it gone, except for a lonely sprig lying in the mulch. I planted that sprig in one of my raised bed gardens that I use to nurse plants back to health, and it flourished into a sizeable plant that is now right back where it started (and it hasn’t disappeared).
Cone flower (Echinacea)
Cone flowers bloom through late summer, which means their faded blooms will still help paint the garden with a bit of colour throughout the fall. Pollinators love them, and they fare very well in my hot, dry front garden. Leave the seed heads out over the winter for the birds to enjoy. I leave my liatris out, as well. (Here are six reasons to NOT clean up the garden in the fall!) I have ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ in my garden, as well as a lovely yellow variety I lost the tag for, but ‘Green Envy’, with its groovy lime green and pink petals, has crossed my radar.
Tickseed provides a reliable swath of colour in my garden as the tiny clump I first brought home has spread into a lovely section of the garden. Apparently “coreopsis” means “always cheerful,” which I find very apt. The flowers attract butterflies, bees, and birds, and look great in my summer vases. There are some really lovely varieties to be found—about 80 Coreopsis species are naturalized in the Americas—and some are hardy down to zone 3. In 2018, the flower had the honour of being designated “Year of the Coreopsis” by the National Garden Bureau. A few favourites that I’ve spotted include Coreopsis ‘UpTick Gold & Bronze’ and ‘SunKiss’, which looks similar to ‘Big Bang Cosmic Eye’.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Lamium, a steadfast groundcover that blooms through October in my sister’s garden. Hers has variegated green and silver-ish leaves, and pinky mauve flowers (kind of like ‘Ghost’). It doesn’t mind dry shade, and while you need to keep on top of it to make sure it doesn’t take over, it’s not hard to divide and thin. Oh, and it’s both deer- and bunny-resistant.
Which fall-blooming flowers do you enjoy in the garden?