Top 10 Fall Blooming Perennials for Your Garden

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Welcome shorter days and longer nights with colorful blooming fall perennials that light up your late-season flower garden, like sedum, aster and goldenrod.

Fall flower gardens can be just as colorful and pretty as summer gardens—it just takes a little planning. For best results with these fall blooming perennials, make sure you plant them earlier in the season, so that they’re bright and hardy when fall hits. Deadheading is often key to making sure these fall perennials keep producing blooms past the summer months. Besides additional color, a huge benefit of maintaining a fall garden is that it helps pollinators, too. Hummingbirds and butterflies go wild for the nectar of many of these autumn superstars.

sedumCourtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries

Sedum

Sedum

Zones 3 to 10

Take a close look and you’ll notice that this plant’s flower heads are made up of little star-shaped blooms. Since the plants range from 3 inches to 3 feet high, some species work well as ground covers, while others make excellent border plants.

Why we love it: One popular sedum variety, Autumn Joy, has broccoli-shaped light green flower heads that slowly change to pink and deepen to burgundy. Another gorgeous sedum is Mr. Goodbud. Later, the seeds feed hungry songbirds.

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photo credit: Monrovia

Hot Lips Turtlehead

Chelone Lyonii ‘Hot Lips’

Zones 3 to 8

The vibrant rosy-pink color is sure to lure you in for a closer look at the uniquely shaped flowers. Dark green leaves and red stems add to its appeal. Grow this versatile fall blooming perennial plant in full sun to part shade. Psst—here’s more colorful shade garden plants.

Why we love it: The species is native to wet woodlands and streams, making it a great choice for those tricky moist areas and rain gardens.

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photo credit: Proven Winners

Russian Sage

Perovskia Atriplicifolia

Zones 4 to 9

Blue flowers shine from summer through fall on this stunning heat- and drought-tolerant plant. Grow in full sun and well-draining soil for best results. Prune plants back to 4 inches in late winter or early spring for more compact growth. Or grow a compact variety such as Blue Spires, Lacey Blue or Denim ‘n Lace. Check out the top 10 year-round perennials.

Why we love it: The fragrant foliage adds a bit of aromatherapy to your spring garden cleanup.

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photo credit: White Flower Farm

Waterlily Autumn Crocus

Colchicum ‘Waterlily’

Zones 4 to 7

Add a colorful surprise to the front of your garden with the large leafless blooms of Waterlily autumn crocus. Plant the bulbs in late summer and then enjoy the flowers right away in fall. Next spring, 6- to 14-inch tall leaves appear for about 8 weeks and then fade away for summer. Each fall, the flowers reappear, sans leaves. Learn why fall is the perfect time to plant perennials.

Why we love it: Autumn crocus looks great among spring-flowering groundcovers.

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photo credit: perennialresource.com

Joe Pye Weed

Eutrochium Purpureum

Zones 4 to 9

Give this big boy some room! These fall perennials reach 7 feet tall in full sun to partial shade and moist soil. You and the butterflies will fall in love with the large, fragrant mauve-pink flower clusters. Plus, the seed heads persist and add texture to your winter garden. Plant these long-blooming flowers to attract butterflies and hummingbirds

Why we love it: For tight spaces, try Little Joe (3 to 4 feet tall) and Baby Joe (32 inches tall). Both of these small options are ideal for rain gardens.

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photo credit: Brecks.com

Hot Lava Helenium

Helenium ‘Hot Lava’

Zones 3 to 8

Hot Lava’s non-drooping, outstretches petals provide an ever-changing display of color. The daisy-like flowers open yellow, develop orange and red streaks, and finally mature to red.

Why we love it: Dress up your indoor decor by adding these colorful blossoms to your fall bouquets. Check out the top 10 flowers for a cutting garden.

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photo credit: North Creek Nurseries, Inc.

Lemon Queen Sunflower

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Zones 4 to 9

Save a spot in the back of the garden for this royal sunflower. Creamy yellow flowers top 6-foot-tall plants from late summer through fall. The upright, bushy plant provides a nice backdrop for neighboring flowers. Pinch the stems back throughout June if you want to keep your plant shorter.

Why we love it: It’s great as a cut flower. Plus, hummingbirds and butterflies take advantage of the bright fall blooms. Discover more fall flowers that attract butterflies.

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photo credit: North Creek Nurseries, Inc.

Fireworks Goldenrod

Solidago Rugosa ‘Fireworks’

Zones 4 to 9

An explosion of bright yellow flowers tops this 3-foot fall blooming perennial plant. Grow low-maintenance Fireworks in full sun or light shade. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the hay fever culprit. Ragweed, which is often found growing next to goldenrod, causes the sniffles. Learn how to grow wildflowers for butterflies.

Why we love it: Goldenrods are a great nectar and pollen source for fall’s flying pollinators and other beneficial insects.

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photo credit: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Mammoth Garden Mum

Chrysanthemum Morifolium ‘Mammoth’

Zones 3 to 9

Bred by the University of Minnesota, this hardy mum is right at home in both the north and south. Grow it in full sun in the garden or a container. This heavy fall blooming perennial produces plenty of flowers, so share fresh-from-the-garden bouquets with friends. Check out more easy plants you can grow in containers.

Why we love it: It’s a large mum that needs no early season pinching to stand upright in your autumn garden.

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photo credit: Bluestone Perennials

Alma Potschke Aster

Symphyotrichum Novae-Angliae ‘Andenken An Alma Potschke’

Zones 4 to 8

Vivid rose-pink blooms on this New England aster grab the attention of passerby. Pinch the stems back to 6 inches throughout June to encourage compact growth, sturdier stems and more flowers. Or let these fall perennials grow (to about 4 feet) and surround them with sturdy neighbors.

Why we love it: Birds and butterflies visit late-blooming asters, which adds motion and life to your yard.

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Melinda Myers
Melinda Myers is a nature and gardening writer whose specialty is attracting wildlife, especially birds, to the garden. She contributes regularly to the magazine Birds & Blooms, and lectures widely on creating gardens that please both human and avian visitors.