One of the biggest gardening tips I ever learned was to plan a garden that had perennials blooming all season. It’s so easy to have blooms in the spring, the early summer, high summer and even into August. But to get perennials that bloom in the fall is another challenge. Here’s eight plants you can add to your perennial border to have blooms right through to the end of October (or beyond in some areas).
It’s the obvious choice….late bloomers that withstand frost, mums are the perfect fall flower. They come in a myriad of colours, heights and size of blooms. But a lot of people don’t have much success with them. Mostly because we buy the wrong mum. Those mums you find at the grocery store in pots really aren’t hardy enough to withstand a cold, snowy winter and will most likely not return come spring. So make sure you are buying hardy mums from a nursery.
Asters (Michaelmas Daisies):
This daisy-like flower begins to bloom in late August and early September, providing colour throughout the autumn. Most commonly seen in purple with yellow centres, asters can also be yellow, white and pink. Place them at the back of the border as they can be as tall as 5′, so some staking may be needed. Divide them every three or four years to allow for good air circulation and stronger stems. They also attract butterflies.
Helianthus (Perennial Sunflower):
One of my favourites in the garden, these long lasting helianthus are lovely from mid-summer on through fall. My secret garden is filled with these perennial sunflowers where it thrives in poor, sandy soil. It needs full sun however to really thrive. Divide it in spring or fall to control the size of these large perennials. One small plant will quickly become a statement plant in your border. But don’t let that deter your enthusiasm. Easy to grow, long lasting bloom and butterfly attracting make this a must have for the late summer border.
Another must have is sedum, particularly sedum “Autumn Joy” for it’s dark red blooms that last throughout the fall season. Popular to the point of overkill, sedums are hardy and easy to grow even for the most novice garden. The only piece of advice I have is to make sure that you split them every three years so that they don’t get top heavy. You might also want to branch out and try different varieties of autumn blooming sedum, such as a variegated leaf: