A Colorful Fall Landscape
The end of summer doesn't have to mean the death of a colorful garden, in fact autumn is a great time to plant a new crop of flowers. Keep reading to learn about the best fall flowers that will bring a gorgeous splash of color to your landscape.
The Turtlehead chelone, so named because its flowers are shaped like the head of a snapping turtle, blooms from late summer through fall. A perennial flower thriving in zones 3-8, chelone grows quickly and will come back each year to form a dense colony of two-foot-tall blooming stems. It needs moisture, so be sure to water it regularly if it is not planted in at least partial shade. Available from Etsy; $12.99 for one plant.
Strawflower is a long-lasting annual that will give your garden color from summer all the way to frost, although in zones 8-11 the plant acts as a perennial. It’s easy to grow and comes in myriad colors. Strawflowers dry beautifully right on the stem, so you can enjoy them in arrangements, wreaths, or potpourri long after the plants are gone. Available from Burpee; $5.19 for 750 seeds.
The yuletide camellia’s red blossoms will not only perk up your garden come autumn, but they will continue to cheer you straight through winter. Its fiery bright blossoms are a beautiful contrast to its dark, glossy evergreen foliage, and it makes an excellent hedge or border shrub in zones 7-10. You can even bring cut flowers indoors to chase away those dreaded winter doldrums. Available from The Home Depot; $18.95 for one plant.
The toad lily has tiny but abundant flowers and begins to bloom just as all the summer flowers are fading. Speckled like their amphibian namesake, they are both unusual and beautiful. Happiest in a shade garden in zones 4-10, toad lilies can tolerate part sun if they are adequately watered. They can make a big statement in September and October, so plant them where they can be easily seen and admired. Available on Etsy; $11.50 for one plant.
Oak leaf hydrangea is stunning year round. In spring and summer the shrub blooms greenish-white flowers and have bright green leaves, but come autumn the leaves transform purple, red, and orange. Drought tolerant and pest- and disease-free, there’s no reason why you wouldn't want these a part of your landscape for the fall. Available from Burpee; $19.99 for one plant.
Found in pots nearly everywhere starting Labor Day, chrysanthemums bring a welcome shock of color to an autumn garden. They are perennial in zones 5-9, but they need several weeks prior to frost to become established. So if you want to enjoy that colorful fall profusion every year, plant a “hardy mum” cultivar in the spring. Available on Etsy; $18.99 for one plant.
Sedum, a succulent-leaved perennial, has many varieties that bloom in fall—including the stunning 'Rosy Glow', which blooms with ruby-red flowers all season in zones 3-9. Drought tolerant and easy to care for, sedum is often found in rock gardens. It is a favorite of butterflies, as well. Plant it as a border or mix it with ornamental grasses for a lush contrast. Available on Etsy; $13 for three plants.
'Black Knight' butterﬂy bush will certainly add interest to your fall landscape in zones 5-10. It blooms with deep purple to almost black flowers from summer through frost and is a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. Reaching heights of eight feet or more, it will make a deﬁnite impact. Available on Etsy; $21.99 for one plant.
The dahlia will dazzle in your yard from summer through fall. In addition to the vibrant rainbow of reds, pinks, and yellows it’s available in, there’s also a variety of sizes from petite to plate-sized petals. You’ll have to dig up the tubers before winter if you live in zones 2-7, but for anyone in zones 8-11 you can treat dahlias as cold hardy plants. Available from The Home Depot; $7.98 for one plant.
Celosia, also referred to as cockscomb because of its close resemblance to a rooster’s comb, is a perfect plant for fall. Not only does this unique-looking flower grow from summer through fall, but it comes in all of autumn’s shades: reds, yellows, and oranges. Provide the showy plant full sun for maximum happiness. Available from The Home Depot; $31.99 for four plants.
When many flowers are starting to fade in the fall, pansies are just beginning to perk up. In fact, these hardy plants will even bounce back if there’s an early frost. Plant the dainty purple flowers in containers or use them as a border plant. Available from Burpee; $13.99 for four plants.
Helenium’s other common name is sneezeweed, which is a misnomer since it doesn’t aggravate allergies nor is it a weed. In fact, this is an excellent flower for your autumn landscape. The deer-resistant plant supports insect populations, as well as attract bees and butterflies during a time of year when they’re on the hunt for nectar and pollen. With moist soil and plenty of sunlight, these tall plants will thrive. Available from Burpee; $17.99 for three plants.
The gentle sweet alyssum is a fragrant, low-lying plant. Available in different varieties you can use it in a rock garden, as a ground cover, or even in hanging baskets. You can expect sweet alyssum to bloom through October, or even longer if you live in a frost-free climate. Available from The Home Depot; $30.90 for four plants.
Available in a spectrum of purples, pinks, and blues, asters will certainly brighten your landscape. Many varieties of aster are native to North America (like New England asters and New York asters), which make them an easy plant to maintain. Like heleniums, asters are a good source of nectar for bees and butterflies in the fall. Available from Burpee; $14.69 for one plant.
Small Globe Thistle
The small globe thistle will begin blooming mid-summer with bright blue ball-shaped flowers and continue right into October or November in zones 3-8. Its unusual flower is a dramatic contrast to its grayish-green foliage. Like strawflowers, small globe thistle makes an excellent cut flower and dries well; it will stay pretty in a vase for several weeks. Available on Etsy; $5.99 for 30 seeds.
Autumn crocus, with its two- to three-week September show of colorful clustered flowers, is only vaguely related to its spring cousin. Growing best in zones 5-10, it's actually a member of the lily family and has larger blooms than the spring-flowering crocus. Corms (similar to bulbs) need to be planted earlier than most bulbs but can be mail-ordered in mid to late summer. They are poisonous to pets, so be mindful of where you plant them. Available on Etsy; $2 for 10 seed bombs.
Osteospermum, or African daisy, comes in truly unique color combinations, including varieties with bright blue centers or deep purple petals. They put on a grand show from spring through fall and are perennial in the Deep South and in zones 9 and above. They favor full sun to part shade, so give them a bright spot, and you’ll be treated to color all season long. Available from Lowe's; $4.98 for one plant.
You can still enjoy colorful flowers in your landscaping well into the cooler fall months.
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