Top 10 Flowers for Your Fall Garden

Chrysanthemums aren’t the only plants that give color to the yard in September and beyond.

Although “mums” are glitzy, familiar, and ever-present blooming icons as summer hands off to fall, a fair selection of other perennial flowers and even a few trees and shrubs bloom in fall.

Here are our top 10 picks for your autumn garden:

1. Aster

Most of these late-blooming perennials are native as well as drought-tough. The daisy-like flowers most often come in shades of purple, lavender, blue-purple, and pink. Asters grow 18 to 36 inches tall, ideally in full sun.


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2. Goldenrod

Another native, this perennial with the spiky golden flowers gets a bad rap as causing hay fever when it’s usually the less showy ragweed doing the deed. Grows 18 to 42 inches tall, full sun to light shade.


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3. Japanese anemone

These upright, colonizing perennials produce daisy-like flowers of pink, rose, or white in early fall. Grows 18 to 36 inches tall, ideally in part to mostly shade.


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4. Sedum

The rounded, bushy plants have fleshy, succulent leaves and umbrella-like flower clusters of pink or rose. Grows 18 to 36 inches tall, best in full sun.


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5. Toad lily (Tricyrtis).

Technically a bulb-like rhizome, this winter-hardy late-bloomer sends up thin flower stalks with dainty orchid-like flowers at the top. Freckled bloom colors include purple, lavender, white, pink, rose, and orange/red. Grows 15 to 30 inches tall, ideally in shade or part shade and moist soil.

Toad Lily

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6. Turtlehead

This late-season native perennial produces flower spikes of white or rosy-pink. Grows 24 to 30 inches tall, ideally in part shade and moist soil.


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7. Leadwort

Sometimes called “plumbago,” this low, spreading perennial gets blue flowers in late summer before its leaves turn burgundy heading into fall. Grows 10 to 12 inches tall, ideally in part shade.


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8. Blue mist shrub (Caryopteris)

One of the last shrubs to bloom each season is this rounded bush with the silvery-gray leaves and pincushion-like little blue flowers. Grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, best in full sun.


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9. Seven son flower (Heptacodium)

One of the season’s last trees in flower is this small species with the peeling bark and white late-season flowers that hand off to even later reddish-purple pods. Grows 12 to 15 feet tall, full sun to part shade.

Seven son flower

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10. Mexican bush sage

An annual in frosty climates, this version of salvia waits until early fall to send up showy purple flower spikes, making it one of September’s most eye-grabbing performers. Grows 3 feet tall, best in full sun.

Mexican bush sage

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Others worth considering

Several other perennials rebloom in fall, especially if their first round of flowers is cut off after bloom finishes. These include agastache, catmint, gaura, hardy geraniums, Joe Pye weed, lavender, reblooming daylilies, reblooming irises, Russian sage, and salvia.

Roses are among the woody plants that often get a second wind in early fall. Others include butterfly bush (stick with sterile types that don’t spew seed invasively), abelia, crape myrtle, reblooming big-leaf hydrangeas, and vitex.

Berries and fruits add another color dimension to the fall landscape, including bayberry, cotoneaster, nandina, beautyberry, chokeberry, St. Johnswort, winterberry holly, juniper, pyracantha, dogwood, and viburnum.

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