As the summer sun fades, our cherished blooms start to wither, making us yearn for the remaining hues before the winter chill blankets everything. Fear not, for autumn can be just as colorful, with numerous plants that can bring life and warmth to your garden even when the temperature drops.
1. Leafy Lace Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
This hydrangea is named for its distinct oak-like leaves. Much like the oak, its leaves metamorphose into vibrant reds and oranges as winter nears. Its radiant white blossoms debut in early summer, transitioning in color as the seasons change, making it a focal point of the autumn garden.
2. Decorative Chili (Capsicum annuum)
While the fruits of this chili plant may lack in culinary zest, their visual appeal is unmatched. Come autumn, they parade in reds, oranges, purples, yellows, and whites, with some showcasing a riot of colors on a single plant. Primarily an annual, it can perennialize in warmer climates (Zone 9b and above) and can flourish indoors too.
3. Minty Lavender Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Beloved by pollinators, this plant showcases tall spikes of lavender flowers that persist until late fall. Hailing from the American heartland, this adaptable perennial thrives in diverse soil types. Every part of it is edible, with the leaves often brewed into tea and other sections believed to have therapeutic properties.
4. Ruby Fronds (Heuchera spp.)
Ruby fronds, thriving in shade, have slender flower stalks that rise during spring and summer. However, their striking foliage remains vivid during autumn. Indigenous to North America, they are resilient across various USDA zones. Favoring nutrient-rich, damp soil, they prosper best under partial shade and can stretch up to 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width.
5. Petal Paperflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum)
With blooms reminiscent of delicate paper, these flowers are popular among craft enthusiasts, perfect for adding a whimsical flair to creations like dried flower arrangements. Thriving under the sun, these perennials can bloom for several years when nurtured right. Best suited for sandy or gravelly soil with a neutral to slight acidity, they are somewhat resistant to dry spells, yet thrive best with regular watering.
6. Silverbrush (Amorpha canescens)
A fantastic choice for low lying areas, the silverbrush unveils its striking blue hues in autumn which later transform into intense shades of red. Consider integrating it into a planter or garden area for an added pop of seasonal color.
7. Dragonflower (Antirrhinum majus)
These magnificent blooms, soaring in a spectrum from orange to pink and purple, make their grand entrance in spring. Dragonflowers, celebrated for their resilience in cold temperatures, may take a brief pause in midsummer but will return with fervor as the warmth of summer transitions to cooler days. Ensure they’re positioned in either full sunlight or partial shade and nourished with damp, free-draining soil.
8. Berrybloom Shrub (Callicarpa americana)
This shrub is a true spectacle in autumn, showcasing clusters of radiant, lustrous purple berries. Throughout spring, its blossoms act as a beacon for pollinators like butterflies and bees. As autumn progresses and its leaves shed, the berries remain, offering a vibrant display and acting as a magnet for local wildlife. Ideal for those seeking low-maintenance flora, this shrub requires minimal tending.
9. Desert Plume (Nassella tenuissima)
When autumn arrives, the desert plume’s rich, feathery strands transition from reddish hues to a warm amber. Adaptable and resilient, these plants are suited for both sun-drenched spots and partially shaded areas. Favouring balanced, fertile soil, the desert plume can grow up to 2 feet in both height and width.
10. Oriental Maple (Acer palmatum)
A sight to behold, the oriental maple stands out with its delicate, lace-like foliage and its elegant, cascading form. As autumnal chills set in, the tree’s leaves dazzle, turning from shades of deep red to vibrant orange and golden yellow. This tree thrives particularly well in regions categorized as zones 5 to 8, where the autumnal hues are especially vivid. In more temperate zones, the colors might appear a bit subdued.
11. Golden Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Golden hazel stands as a statuesque, leaf-shedding shrub renowned for its eye-catching, aromatic blossoms during autumn. As winter approaches and many trees bare their branches, its golden, thread-like flowers persist, offering an unexpected burst of color to the waning landscape. To ensure its vibrant display, plant this shrub in fertile, moisture-retaining soil under a generous daily sunlit stretch of at least 6 hours.
12. Decorative Leafy Greens (Brassica oleracea—Acephala Group & Capitata Group)
Cultivated for their visual appeal rather than culinary use, ornamental kale and cabbage showcase a low profile adorned with vivid hues ranging from deep purples to rosy pinks and creamy whites. Ideal for providing color during cooler months, they serve as perfect border plants. However, while their taste might not appeal to us, wildlife, especially deer, find them irresistible. Make sure to introduce them to your garden once the temperature drops to keep them thriving.
13. Autumn Blaze Viburnum (Viburnum nudum ‘Winterthur’)
Offering a dual spectacle, Autumn Blaze Viburnum enthralls gardeners with both its radiant crimson foliage and striking blue berries. Suited for zones 5 to 9, this robust shrub ensures your garden remains vibrant even when its companions start to fade. Native to the eastern regions of the US, it flourishes best in moist terrains under the embrace of either full sunlight or dappled shade.
14. Thorn Ember (Pyracantha)
Thorn Ember, an evergreen marvel, keeps gardens lively throughout the year. During summer, delicate white blossoms emerge, which later evolve into radiant orange or ruby berries, lasting through winter and serving as a delightful feast for avian visitors. While it can endure arid conditions, it reaches its majestic potential of up to 16 feet in height and breadth in more humid surroundings. However, consider its placement carefully due to its prickly nature.
15. Autumn Petals (Viola tricolor var. hortensis)
Contrary to their delicate appearance, autumn petals (or pansies) are robust cold-season bloomers capable of braving fluctuating fall climates across various regions. Exhibiting a medley of colors from pristine white and lilac to sunny yellows and rose hues, they cater to every gardener’s aesthetic. Growing in neat clusters around 12 inches in height and spread, ensure they’re positioned in a spot graced with around 6 hours of sunshine each day.
16. Autumn Blossoms (Chrysanthemum)
Come fall, chrysanthemums adorn various setups, making them an integral part of the season’s ambiance. Easily available from late August, many choose to showcase these vibrant flowers in pots, enhancing the autumnal feel of patios and porches. But if you’re thinking long-term, plant them directly in garden beds. Transplanting perennial mums before the winter chill will reward you with their recurring bloom each year.
17. Sunset Blooms (Helenium autumnale)
Hailing from the sunflower lineage, sunset blooms or heleniums are perennials that burst into brilliant shades of fiery oranges and reds as fall approaches. Often referred to as sneezeweed, their radiant and enduring blossoms can elevate garden aesthetics or serve as vibrant centerpieces indoors. These sturdy plants, which thrive in zones 3 to 8, love a damp, well-aerated soil. Their low upkeep and deer-repellent nature ensure they remain an autumn favorite.
18.Rose Stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’—‘Autumn Joy’)
A variant of the stonecrop family, Rose Stonecrop or ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum unveils a cascade of deep rosy flowers from August till November. As temperatures dip, the blooms adopt a bronzy hue. Perfect for dry, well-draining soil, this variety flourishes in zones 3 to 9. Their cuttings can enhance any fall-themed floral setup.
19. Spotted Orchid Mimic (Tricyrtis hirta)
While most perennials retire by late summer, the Spotted Orchid Mimic, or toad lily, is just starting its blooming journey. Its distinctive, speckled blossoms can jazz up any garden space from mid-September and also serve as unique indoor arrangements. Suitable for zones 4 to 8, this shade-friendly plant requires moisture-rich, well-draining soil. Cat owners should be cautious as these are harmful to their feline friends.
20. Fall Daisies (Aster)
As the seasons transition, fall daisies or asters, with their radiant flowers, ensure your garden remains lively. Their wide range of colors, from soft pinks and purples to bold reds and whites, infuses a sense of freshness and delight. Beyond aesthetics, they serve as butterfly magnets. To ensure a thriving growth, place them under the sun and maintain soil moisture without overwatering.
21. Autumn’s Fragrant Veil (Clematis terniflora)
Come late summer and early fall, the fragrant veil of the autumn clematis vine drapes with lush white blossoms, contrasting beautifully with its dark, glossy leaves. While it thrives in both sunlight and partial shade, it’s a fast climber, ideal for adorning trellises and fences. However, its allure comes with a word of caution – the plant can be harmful to both humans and pets. It relishes damp soil.
22. Whitespire Blooms (Itea virginica)
Springtime ushers in the Whitespire blooms, showcasing long white flowers. Yet, as fall approaches, its leaves don a rich burgundy hue that persists. This deciduous shrub, which can reach 8 feet, is perfect for edging woodland areas. Once rooted, it’s fairly drought-resistant, although it favors humid soils.
23. Autumn’s Blaze (Euonymus alatus)
With the arrival of autumn, the aptly named Autumn’s Blaze or burning bush turns a vivid shade of red. This member of the euonymus clan is versatile, adapting to various moist soils and levels of sun exposure. It flourishes in zones 4 to 8 and can spread both in height and width. Before planting, note its rapid growth and potential toxicity.
24. Oriental Lanterns (Physalis alkekengi)
While the oriental lantern plant bears subtle white flowers, its true autumn spectacle lies in its radiant orange seed pods, resembling tiny lanterns. These pods not only enliven gardens but can be dried for decorative indoor displays. Favoring neutral pH, the plant thrives in soil that’s damp yet drains efficiently.
25. Velvet Foliage (Stachys byzantina)
Lamb’s ear, or as some might call it, velvet foliage, remains resilient when other plants wither away. This rapid-spreading ground carpet thrives under the sun’s full gaze. With its adaptability to various soil types, it’s an excellent fit for rocky landscapes and can be multiplied by division every few springs.
26. Golden Needles (Amsonia hubrichtii)
The Golden Needles, or Arkansas blue star, is celebrated for its lush greenery and gentle blue spring blossoms, which are butterfly magnets. As autumn approaches, the leaves transition to a radiant gold, persisting through parts of winter and enriching gardens year-round. It grows compactly and likes soil that’s well-aerated and semi-shaded.
27. Sunny Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Sunny Susans or Black-eyed Susans offer a dual bloom show – once in summer and a reprise in fall when cared for diligently. Native to the central U.S., they flourish best in sunlit areas with well-drained soil. Once established, these bright beauties prove to be drought-resilient.
28. Golden Canopy (Betula nigra)
The swift-growing river birch tree adorns gardens with golden foliage in autumn, presenting a vivid juxtaposition against its unique white bark. Favoring acidic and constantly moist soils, it requires ample sunlight and fits best in zones 4 to 9.
29. Season’s Symphony Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Fire and Ice’)
The Season’s Symphony or Fire and Ice hydrangea undergoes a breathtaking transformation from spring to fall, transitioning from white to pink and finally, a deep red. This plant is a three-season wonder, bearing cold winters gracefully. While it appreciates sunlight, regions hotter than Zone 8 might not be its best fit.
30. Crimson Branches (Cornus sericea)
The crimson branches or red twig dogwood is a year-round spectacle. Fall enhances its beauty with white berries gracing its deep red branches. Growing substantially in height and width, its vibrant hues are accentuated when bathed in sunlight. A fan of acidic and humid soils, it stands out whether as a boundary or a garden centerpiece.