Top 10 Mum Companions
Think outside the box this fall with top plant picks perfect for accessorizing chrysanthemums.
Mums are the backbone of the fall garden. They come in every color of the rainbow except blue, they have enough size to fill a garden on their own, and the blooms keep coming even after the first frost. But reliable as they may be, mums can turn ho-hum in a hurry
without some contrasting companions to liven them up. Look no
further: These perennial favorites will add the perfect splash of
color to extend your garden year after year.
Joe Pye weed
, Zones 4-10)
A massive 6- to 10-foot-tall perennial that needs no staking, this native wildflower is a showstopper when its giant puffs of mauve-pink flowers come into bloom. While it’s too big for many gardens, there are downsized options for smaller spaces. Try Little Joe or Gateway cultivars. Grow in sun to partial shade.
Why we love it: You’ll revel in the cloud of butterflies these blooms attract. Plant them with goldenrod, just as they grow naturally, and butterflies will be even happier!
, Zones 3 to 8)
Asters range from 1 to 4 feet tall, with hardiness varying depending on species. Plant in sun in average well-drained soil. The name “aster” can refer to a whole universe of plants, so consult with your local garden center.
Why we love it: The colors are amazing, with blue and purple asters especially providing a beautiful contrast to autumn shades. Look for the Purple Dome cultivar, which grows in a knee-high mound. The lavender-blue Monch
cultivar blooms nonstop for months.
, Zones 5-10)
Several fancy oreganos are on the market, and many last well into fall. Though you don’t cook with them (those are culinary oreganos), they do attract butterflies. The cultivar Rotkugel forms a low, mounding mat that roots as it travels. Try it along the top of a wall, where butterflies will be at eye level, with a fountain of goldenrod behind it. Grow it in average to dry soil and full sun.
Why we love it: Because it attracts butterflies and looks gorgeous. Who knew oregano could do so much?
Autumn Joy sedum
(Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Zones 3-9)
The tightly clustered flower heads of this color-changer -begin as tiny, starry flowers of romantic pink, then deepen to orange, and finally turn a dramatic russet for fall and winter. Grow in full sun in average to dry soil.
Why we love it: Butterflies and a host of other fascinating insects can’t resist, so plant this sedum at the front of your beds where you can watch the pollinator parade.
, Zones 6-10)
Catch migrating hummingbirds with red salvia. The annual of this plant has always been a good choice for those flying jewels, so now try adding this perennial shrub to your garden. It’s a 2- to 3-foot-tall Texas shrub. Grow in sun in well-drained soil. Furman’s Red is a great cultivar to try.
Why we love it: Like butterfly bush, salvia may freeze to the ground in cold winters, but it regrows in spring.
, Zones 4-9)
At first glance, you’d swear the blooms on toad lily are miniature orchids. The loose clump of relaxed, arching stems spreads at a moderate pace, with new stems sometimes popping up a few feet away. Plant it among hostas and ferns, where it can naturalize at will. This perennial loves shady, moist conditions.
Why we love it: Possibly the very latest bloomer of all, toad lily deserves a position where you can admire its small, speckled blossoms up close.
species, Zones 4-9)
Also called Helen’s flower, this perennial stretches to 5 feet tall. Many spectacular sneezeweeds have a habit of keeling over when they get top-heavy with a big bouquet of rust or golden flowers. To prevent this, plant them with tall New England asters for mutual support, then stake the plants for extra backbone. Plant in full sun.
Why we love it: It has fabulous color. Try the cultivar Coppelia for bright rusty-orange blooms. It also has extra-strong stems and reaches only about 3 feet.
, Zones 4-8)
Plant this perennial beneath shrubs and trees or along paths, or nestle it alongside steps. It’s beautiful around -garden pools, too, especially when the water is spattered with colorful fall leaves. Grow in well-drained soil in sun
to partial shade.
Why we love it: Electric-blue flowers glow against the reddening foliage of this ground cover in fall
, Zones 2-9)
American natives, the glorious goldenrods are used to taking over entire fields, and they’ll run rampant in the garden, too. So always plant goldenrod with care. The Fireworks cultivar is the best behaved. It tends to stay in an expanding clump and doesn’t set fertile seed, and runners are easy to uproot. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil.
Why we love it: Monarchs adore the flowers! Plant a few mums in front of this plant to camouflage its bare ankles.
, Zones 4-9)
The flowers of boltonia look a bit like asters. The Pink Beauty cultivar features blooms in a billow of tiny, pale-pink daisies. Plant it with a mix of pink, white and magenta cosmos, and let the flowers spill over a split-rail or picket fence. It does best in well-drained soil where it can get plenty of sun.
Why we love it: Its airy form makes this plant perfect for the center of your bed, where it can arch over resting perennials or mums.