11 Sep TOP 5 FALL-BLOOMING PERENNIALS
While the spring season gets most of the glory in flower gardening, don’t overlook our fall-blooming beauties! These third season bloomers start in late summer and bring with them cooler temps and harvest hues — and many of them span multiple USDA hardiness zones, making them accessible to a wide range of climates. Here are our Top 5 fall-blooming perennials and how to grow them — which is your favorite?
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Top 5 Fall-Blooming Perennials
Aster: (Symphyotrichum spp.) This widely-recognizable perennial can grow up to 7’ tall depending upon variety, but more commonly hovers around 2’ tall and wide. Its daisy-like appearance features fringy petals in hues of purple, lavender, pink, and white, often with yellow centers. It prefers full to part sun, moist but well-drained soil, and cool nighttime temperatures. It also attracts late-season pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but get it in the ground as quickly as possible for it to establish before winter. Recommended varieties include ‘King George,’ ‘Silver Spray,’ and ‘Nanus.’ USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8.
Hardy Mums: (Chrysanthemum spp.) Hardy mums are synonymous with autumn — their harvest shades of yellow, orange, white, and purple are instantly associated with sweater weather. Don’t confuse them, however, with the potted mums found at grocery stores and floral shops at this time of year — those plants are mostly seasonal decorations alongside pumpkins and gourds because they won’t likely survive the winter. Hardy mums, found at garden centers, are the true perennials. Hardy mums grow 1-3’ T x W, and prefer full sun and well-drained soil to perform their best. Buy them when their buds are just beginning to open in order to enjoy the longest bloom time (as well as to ensure bloom color). They’re actually best planted in the spring if you want them to survive the winter, but check with your local experts for specific planting times. Varieties to try include ‘Candid,’ ‘Honeyglow,’ and ‘Coral Charm.’ USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.
Goldenrod: (Solidago spp.) This rugged and adaptable perennial crops up where other plants fail to bloom — but mistake this beauty for a hayfever-inducing weed and you’ll be missing out on one of fall’s most stunning and dependable bloomers. Because the goldenrod blooms at about the same time as ragweed, it’s often mistakenly blamed for seasonal allergies. It grows up to 24” tall with yellow/gold blooms, and prefers full sun to light shade, well-drained soil, and little irrigation or fertilizer. Look for cultivated varieties like ‘Golden Fleece,’ ‘Goldrush,’ and ‘Fireworks’ for plants that are more well-managed for the home garden. USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8.
Joe Pye: (Eutrochium purpureum) Looking for a mauve giant for your fall garden? Look no further; it’s Joe Pye weed. Growing up to 7’ tall, this clumping perennial features tiny dull-pink bloom clusters that are very attractive to butterflies — and which produce dried seedheads that persist into winter. Give it full sun to part shade, and moist, fertile soil that does not dry out. Smaller varieties to consider include ‘Little Joe,’ ‘Carin,’ and ‘Bartered Bride.’ USDA Hardiness Zones 2-9.
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Sedum: (Sedum spp.) Sedum is a huge family of plants with foliage in wide-ranging colors from gray-green, blue-green, to burgundy. These drought-tolerant succulent plants feature a profusion of tiny, star-shaped fall flowers that are immensely attractive to bees and butterflies. Commonly called “stonecrop,” sedum generally prefer full sun to light shade, and fertile but well-drained soil. Favorite varieties include ‘Autumn Joy,’ ‘Frosty Morn,’ and ‘Arthur Branch.’ USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9.
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