11 Perennials to Plant in the Fall for Beautiful Spring Flowers

Get busy in the garden now to put in plants that will reward you with bountiful blooms for many years to come.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

1/12
spring flowers

Perennials, as the term implies, are plants that can live for years, even decades, adding beauty to your garden with very little care. Flowering perennials typically produce blooms by the second year, though some will burst with color the very first year. And spring perennials? Well, can you think of a better way to chase away the winter blues than with pretty pink, yellow, purple, and more hues?

Fall, with its combination of still-warm soil and cooler, wetter weather, presents the ideal opportunity to encourage root growth in new spring perennials. So admire the varieties here, pick your favorites, and set the stage for spectacular spring flowers.

Related: Solved! What are Biennial Plants?

istockphoto.com

Say Hello to Hellebores

2/12
spring flowers

If you get impatient for posies as the winter drags on, put in hellebores (Helleborus) now. Also known as Lenten rose, this is one of the first flowers to appear each year, often poking through the snow with big, bowl-shaped, pink, yellow, or maroon blooms. Hardy hellebores do best in slightly shaded spots and neutral soils with good drainage in Zones 5 to 9.

istockphoto.com

Power Up with Pasque Flower

3/12
spring flowers

Certainly no shrinking violet, pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is a showstopper with bold, purple, bell-shaped blossoms demanding attention in Zones 4 to 8. Pasque is an old French word for Easter, and this perennial is bound to bloom in time for the holiday—and fortunately, it is also rabbit resistant. The gorgeous garden star (also known as wind flower and meadow anemone) flourishes in fertile soil with good drainage and full to partial sun for easy purple spring flowers.

istockphoto.com

Take Cover With Creeping Phlox

4/12
spring flowers

For colorful ground cover, consider creeping phlox (Phlox subulata). Phlox is the Greek word for fire, and this mat-forming plant will set your landscape ablaze with small, fragrant, flat blooms in purple, pink, red, and white beginning in March. It’s a favorite for filling in rock gardens and can be especially pretty draping over a wall. Plant phlox in Zones 3 to 9, choosing a spot that receives dappled sun and has sandy soil that gets good drainage. 

istockphoto.com

Ring in Bluebells

5/12
spring flowers

For whom do these bells toll? Any gardener in hardiness Zones 3 through 8 who doesn’t like a lot of toil. Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica) pops out in early spring flowers that start pale and turn a rich, true blue. They thrive in moist soil and half sun/half shade conditions, eventually establishing a colony of pollinator-friendly ground cover with virtually zero care.

istockphoto.com

Welcome Columbine

6/12
spring flowers

Prized for its graceful, nodding blooms, columbine (Aquilegia) is a woodland perennial, meaning it likes a shady or partly shaded location and consistently moist soil. Its white, yellow, red, or blue flowers appear in early spring and keep it up through mid-summer. The only caveat is that columbine is one of the shorter-lived perennials; if you love them, add a few more plants every year or so in Zones 3 to 8. 

Related: Hardiness Zones 101: What All Home Gardeners Need to Know

istockphoto.com

Be True to False Indigo

7/12
spring flowers

Tall, resilient false indigo (Baptisia) flowers in late spring through fall with thick stalks and spires of small, dark blue blooms. If blue isn’t your bag, check out hybrids in other colors, including yellow and pink. False indigo likes full sun but can deal with some shade in hardiness Zones 3 to 9. False indigo is drought tolerant, beckons bees and butterflies, and is unlikely to get nibbled by rabbits and deer.

istockphoto.com

Add in Astilbe

8/12
spring flowers

Must be those long, fuzzy, pale-colored flowers that give Astilbe its common nickname of false goat’s beard. This practically trouble-free plant that blooms in spring through summer is especially popular as a border in partly shady areas. Its flowers contrast well against broad, leafy foliage. Astilbe thrives in loamy, slightly acidic soil in hardiness Zones 3 to 8.

istockphoto.com

Let the Sundrops In

9/12
spring flowers

Attention gardeners in the Southwest who can’t abide on cactus alone: Sundrops (Calylophus hartwegii) are a perfect perennial pick, flowering in March through October. A member of the night-blooming primrose family, the flower opens with bright yellow petals around sunset and stays that way through the next day. Plant in partly shaded areas with dry soil in Zones 5 to 9.

istockphoto.com

Gotta Love Lamium

10/12
spring flowers

Shade happens—and that’s not a problem for lamium (Lamium maculatum). This lovely yet tough ground cover can take on bare spots, such as beneath trees, like nobody’s business. Lamium boasts variegated foliage in silver, gold, and green plus dainty pink and purple flowers that appear in late spring and summer. This rugged plant can thrive in clay and alkaline soils, and it actually prefers drier conditions in Zones 3 to 8. Tip: Deadhead flowers once they fade to encourage a new crop of blooms.

istockphoto.com

Indulge in Dianthus

11/12
spring flowers

For a flowering perennial that smells as nice as it looks, let Dianthus adorn your landscape. This flower family offers clusters of spunky spring-through-summer blooms in a range of hues, including pink, white, yellow, and red against blue-green leaves. Dianthus, a sun worshipper that thrives in well-draining soil in Zones 4 to 8, and is ideal in rock gardens, containers, and as borders. Its rich nectar will attract pollinators yet deer and bunnies won’t bother with it. 

Related: 11 Shrubs That Can Handle the Heat of Full Sun

istockphoto.com

Weave in Spiderwort

12/12
spring flowers

Tap into your spidey sense with this perennial superhero, which grows in clumps and flowers in May through July in Zones 4 to 8. Spiderwort (Tradescantia) boasts three-petal purple posies that contrast strikingly with its gold-tinged, grass-like leaves. A low-maintenance lovely, it thrives in full sun to partial shade and various types of soil, including sand and clay, but it’s fairly thirsty so keep it moist, not wet.

istockphoto.com

Don't Miss!

1pixel

Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.