For gardeners fall brings a renewed interest in fall blooming perennials and annuals with their brilliant displays of reds, purples oranges and yellows.
Tall perennials that bloom in fall should be planted in spring in the back of the border where they can provide a green backdrop for summer bloomers. If they become leggy you can prune them back until July 1. Tall perennial grasses such as Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass should not be pruned during the summer. They are particularly beautiful on their own or at the back of the border where they can be left to also provide winter season interest. Smaller fall blooming plants should also be planted in spring and can be placed in groups of 3, 5 or 7 depending on the size of your border. Spring planting ensures good root establishment.
Bellflower (Balloon Flower – Platycodon grandifloras)
A tall, clump forming perennial. Purple blue, pink or white upward facing, bell shaped flowers on 30 in. stems. Deadhead regularly to prolong bloom. They enjoy full sun to part shade.
Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium)
Far from being a weed, Joe Pye is a ‘statement’ perennial, reaching a height and spread of 8 ft. The huge airy blooms of purple , white or pink attract butterflies and bees. It loves to be in the full sun but can tolerate part shade. The flowers and seeds are used as red and pink dyes for textiles. Deer do not find this plant too tasty. There are also shorter varieties such as Gateway, Little Joe and Baby Joe.
A very popular fall flower for good reason. They provide gorgeous displays of color that seem to last forever. Plant hardy perennial mums in spring. Fall planting can be disappointing the next spring as roots may not have enough time to become established. Two large beautiful varieties are Mammoth Lavender Daisy and Mammoth Coral Daisy. They are rated Zone 3 and reach a height and spread of 3 ft. to 4 ft. Be aware that the mature height and spread may take more than one year. They are a semi-double mum and require no pinching, pruning or deadheading!
Fall Asters require full sun and come in multiple colors of white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue. The two fall bloomers are Aster novae anglias (New England Asters) and Aster nova belgii (New York Asters). Pinch back prior to July 1 to encourage bushiness. Cut back after bloom to avoid seeding. Fall Asters make a great cut flower and the flowers are edible!
Autumn Joy Sedum
Possibly the best and toughest fall blooming perennial ever! It not only provides textural interest with its succulent leaves but produces large dusty-pink flower heads that deepen to a rich bronzy-red. Plant in odd numbered groups in full sun. They are deer resistant and attract pollinators.
Other fall blooming perennials worth mentioning are Heliopsis, Helenium, Rudbeckia and Russian Sage. All are quite large and deserve a place in your garden!
To round out your borders add some extra sparkle with annual snapdragons, marigolds, dusty miller, ornamental cabbage and kale. Create some new planters with the above annuals, add some purple fountain grass, sit back and enjoy!