|If your landscaping around your house is a little on the green side this time of year brighten it up by filling in some space with perennials, grasses and shrubs that will burst with color late in the season.
This perennial I’m sure everyone is familiar with. They can either be planted in the landscape incorporated into the design to provide color in the fall or they can be used as an annual in decorative fall pots. Even just placed into the garden so that the pot is hidden by foliage to add color, just make sure you don’t forget to water it! I like to stick with the classic fall colors such as the burnt oranges, but there is wide variety of colors to choose from including pinks, maroon and even light purples. If you are actually planting these perennials into the landscape they actually spread almost like a ground cover. They are happiest where they will not be wet in the spring so plant them up high, on a slope or where drainage is adequate. These are one of my favorite “ignore me plants.” They have little to no disease or insect problems and the only maintenance is a little debris clean up in the spring of last years foliage.
These are great perennials with small leave which add a fine texture to the garden. They also come in a variety of heights so you can repeat color in the foreground and background of the garden. They come in pinks, purple and white, the first two colors compliment fall oranges and yellow beautifully. There’s even a tall variety called “Lady in Black” with deep maroon tinted leaves.
You can’t get much more out of a plant then an ornamental grass. Not only do they add a graceful, upright feature to the garden throughout the summer as they sway in the breezes but they reward us with wonderful plumes of seed heads to enjoy in the fall as well as color and structure through the early months of winter. The seed heads also look great in fall flower arrangements.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Stictus’
Often known as Porcupine grass it has horizontal yellow strips on stiff, not arching, blades. Tolerate moist soil, full sun. Seed heads can rise 9 feet, can spread 3-4 feet wide.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Cabaret’
Often known as Japanese Silver Grass or Variegated Maiden Grass it has great variegation with white vertical stripping. The six foot foliage is topped with copper-colored flowers in mid-September. The flower stems blush pink and the seed heads fluff to a cream color with age. Tolerates drought, plant in full sun.
Purple Japanese Silver Grass
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’
Often known as Flame Grass for it’s fall coloring. Green blades change to a bright red in the fall with silvery seed heads held above. Plant in full sun in moist but well drained soil. Grows 4-5 feet tall.
Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’
Known as Maiden Grass it has fine, narrow foliage and a graceful rounded habit. Blooms are an attractive copper-red color, appearing in mid to late fall. Grows 7 feet tall by 4 feet wide.
Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln’
Often known as Dwarf Fountain Grass this is a small ornamental grass reaching about 2-2 ½’ high. Bottle brush seed heads sway above the leaves in the fall. Plant in full sun, drought tolerant.
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’
Metallic blue foliage is stiff and upright. Airy, large seed head are pink to maroon in the fall as the grass fades to yellow. Stays upright even after hard rains. Plant in full to partial shade, salt tolerant, moisture tolerant. Grows 5 feet high.
Panicum virgatum ‘Dallas Blue’
Blue color blades are upright and then slightly arching at the top. Seed heads are 2’ tall, a purple-blue color in fall and mature to a rich orange tan. Very drought tolerant. Grows 5 feet tall.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’
The green leaf blades are tipped in red and turns a rich burgundy by fall. Very similar to Japanese Blood Grass. Seeds heads have a reddish tinge as well. It grows 4 feet high. Plant in full sun, tolerate many soil conditions.
Caryopteris 'Dark Knight’
Often called Blue Mist Spirea or Bluebeard this small shrub has bottle brush puff ball flowers of blue-purple late in the summer into fall. The foliage usually has a silvery cast but they can come variegated or with a yellow cast to them. They can even handle a little light shade and still bloom impressively.
No garden or landscape is complete without these bright yellow flowers blooming in the fall. They are also an ultimate “ignore me” plant that can be planted anywhere but the deepest shade. They don’t mind wet in the spring or drought in the summer. This perennial looks best planted in mass to create large drifts of blooms. Upright sedums and large ornamental grasses compliment Black-eyed Susan beautifully.
Coreopsis verticilata or Thread Leaf Coreposis comes in two shades of yellow and a light pink which blooms from mid-June on through the fall. These are low growing front of the border perennials that you can’t beat for there bloom time and profusion. Plant in full sun to light shade.
A tall flower for the back of the border has daisy like flowers with short fat little petals. They come in ranges of dark reds to oranges to yellows, a perfect match for fall. Prefers full sun but takes light shade, reaches about 4-5’ tall.
This medium sized perennial comes in shades of pink, white and purple. It’s a very late summer bloomer with spires of flowers blooming in succession up the stem. This perennial spreads readily but is very easy to dig out to move from place to place or to give away to admiring friends. Prefers full sun but tolerates light shade, doesn’t mind a little bit of wet.
Cimicifuga sp. 'Bugbane'
A great background perennial that doesn’t mind the shade or the wet. Tall catkin like blooms of white float over fern like foliage. Bugbane also comes in great maroon leaf varieties that add extra color to the garden from the moment they pop up in the spring till the first hard frost even when they’re not in bloom.
The one that most people are familiar with is ‘Autumn Joy’ though there are others to consider that can bring dark maroon edged foliage, white flowers or even white and green variegated foliage into the landscape. Sedums are very drought tolerant and since they have a fat succulent type leaf they bring a great texture into the garden even when they are not on bloom.
There are several types of German or Beared Iris that have a second bloom in the fall to follow their usual spring bloom. In between they add an upright spiky feature to the garden. A few are ‘Best Bet’, ‘Mother Earth’ and ‘Sugar Blue’.
Anemone x hybrida
Mounds of foliage that hover close to the ground send up two to three foot stems where white to pink flowers float in the landscape. A beautiful airy perennial for shady, most but well-drained areas.
Sweet Autumn Clematis
A delicately textured, rambling vine that can cover an entire fence. In late summer to early fall it will bursts with tiny fragrant white flowers. Give it room though and full sun, it likes to spread.
Long, delicate stem have a fine texture and are covered in small white to pink flowers that start blooming in June and continue on until the first hard frost. This plant has a natural prostate almost “floppy” habit so give it room in the front of the border where it can sprawl happily in a sunny well-drained spot.
This woody ornamental comes as a tree or a shrub in many colors of purple, pink, maroon and white in single flowers or double. They can add great height or width to the landscape and great color late in the season.
A great small, ornamental tree that unlike most blooms from mid-August on. Undeveloped blossoms start appearing green in late July and eventually expand into large panicle clusters of white flowers. These gently age to a soft pink then onto a beige-dried brown. A great tree for a focal point in the garden or in front of the house.
There are other ways to make sure that your fall garden is full of color and texture. Add plants that have a lot of color in their foliage such as yellows, blues, reds etc. beside concentrating on flowers alone.