I love the fall garden with its harvest-hued flowers, and, depending upon where you live, you can enjoy these fall flowers late into the season. Chances are good that you’ll find most of these at your favorite garden center right now, but be sure to check the best time for planting in your area. So, step aside, asters and mums — these fall beauties are taking center stage!
5 Awesome Flowers to Plant in your Autumn Garden
Mexican Bush Sage. (Salvia leucantha) Arguably one of the most attractive of all the salvias, Mexican bush sage grows to 3’ x 3’, although if it really likes its spot it can reach 4’ x 4’ or taller. It features greenish-silver leaves and purple and white velvety flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds. Once it’s established, it’s quite drought tolerant, so be sure to plant it in a spot that has well-drained soil and full to part sun. In very mild climates (USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11) it’s considered an evergreen, but in all other zones it behaves as a flowering perennial. Cut back the foliage after the first freeze and enjoy this fall plant again next year!
Japanese Anemone. (Anemone spp.) This dependable bloomer is one of the few fall flowers that feature pink and white hues rather than the more expected orange, yellow, and purple. They thrive in partial shade with moist soil, but will tolerate full sun as long as they get adequate irrigation. Fall-blooming anemones grow to about 12” high and can spread fairly quickly if it’s happy in its spot. The foliage will blacken after the first hard freeze, so go ahead and cut it back then. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7.
Crocus. (Crocus spp.) Not to be confused with their spring-blooming counterparts, fall-blooming crocus is often shipped as bulbs in September. They are planted right away, and in just a matter of weeks, you’ll have cup-shaped blooms in shades of blue, lavender, and white. These are low-growers, topping out at 6” high. Add some compost or bone meal at planting time, space the bulbs about 3” apart, and choose a site that is sunny and with well-drained soil. Let the foliage fade on its own without removing after blooming; this is what feeds the bulb to create new flowers next year. USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.
Anise Hyssop. (Agastache foeniculum) This fall-flowering herb is a member of the mint family, with leaves that look like a larger version of catmint leaves, and tiny blue-lavender flowers — both that smell of anise. And although many regard it as an herb, technically, it’s a wildflower and not to be confused with Hyssopus officinalis, its healing cousin. It grows 2-4’ tall and 1’ wide provided you give it full sun and well-drained soil. It’s most often started by seed and transplants easily — though if you sow the seed in the fall, it’ll remain dormant until next spring. If you don’t have this one in your garden yet, order your seeds and plan to sow them in the spring for fall color. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.
Helenium. (Helenium spp.) This sun-loving perennial grows 1-8’ high and 1-2’ wide with a blaze of orange, red, and yellow flowers. It has a similar appearance to Black-eyed Susans, it’s not as drought tolerant, so be prepared to water once a week (or more if it’s significantly dry). Aim for well-drained soil that retains enough moisture to make this plant thrive. Deadhead the flowers to prolong its bloom time, and cut the flower stalks down to the foliage after they’re done blooming. USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
8 Extra Tips for your Awesome Autumn Garden
Stake flowers. August can bring late summer storms or even hurricane season, and those windy conditions can topple your taller flowers like dahlias. Provide them with a little extra support with garden stakes.
Continue deadheading and cutting. Deadheading and cutting encourage new blooms and keeps your flowers looking tidy. Some flowers are ideal candidates for indoor flower displays and drying, like hydrangeas, daisies, and strawflower.
Water deeply. Rather than sprinkling a little water daily, aim for less frequent but deeper watering. I like to put my hose on trickle and let it lay on top of the soil near my flowers — then move it around to a different location after about 15 minutes.
Take cuttings. Flowers like pelargoniums, osteospermum, dianthus, and helianthemum are easy to propagate with cuttings, and now’s the time to do it. By the time the cooler season rolls around, these plants will be well-rooted for planting next spring.
Divide rhizomes. Any plant that has rhizomes (irises, for example) can be dug up, divided and replanted now if you didn’t do it last month. They’ve already bloomed and are ready to spread the love in a different area of your garden.
Collect and store seeds. Got any calendula, hardy geranium, cerinthe, or aquilegia? Collect their seeds and store them for next year’s garden.
Fertilize containers. Container plantings can peter out more quickly than their in-ground counterparts, so be sure to give them a little extra love. I like to sprinkle compost on the soil surface and water it in. Worm castings work well, too!
Keep an eye out for diseases and pests. Powdery mildew, downy mildew and white rust are common summertime diseases, so don’t let them get out of control. Pest like earwigs and vine weevil grubs can do a lot of damage, too, so it’s best to do a regular checkup in the garden so you can notice and treat before anything causes too much damage.