Late Bloomers: 6 Favorite Fall Flowers

Categories: Grow

Late Bloomers: 6 Favorite Fall Flowers

With fall on the horizon, we're refreshing the garden with bright, blooming plants that look their best late in the season. While mums are a classic choice for bringing color to the autumn landscape, we're looking beyond the basics for less familiar fall flowers. Our garden expert Kerry Ann M. says, "Fall is an amazing time for flowering plants, and the most important time of year for pollinators to gather their food reserves from those flowering plants before winter." Find six of her favorite fall blooms below. 

1. New England Aster (Symphotrichum novae-angliae): Also known as Michaelmas daisy, this herbaceous, deer-resistant perennial is native to much of North American east of the Rocky Mountains. Its lavender blooms with sunny centers appear from August through October atop stems that can reach six feet high. The New England Aster is a crucial source of fall nectar for many pollinators, including Monarch butterflies stocking up for the fall migration to Mexico. 

2. Gaura: Commonly known as beeblossom or wandflower, Gaura is still going strong as fall begins. It grows in dense thickets of slim, upright stems, each one dotted with rosy flowers. Thriving in full sun, Gaura has an exceptionally long bloom time, with flushes of flowers from late spring all the way through fall. This low-maintenance perennial grows from a taproot, making it extremely drought tolerant; avoid areas of the garden with soggy winter soil when planting. 

3. Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides): Blooming from July to September with deep blue flowers, this mat-forming perennial makes a great choice for groundcover in full sun to partial shade. Also known as leadwort, its name is derived from the Greek word keras (meaning horn), which describes the horn-like projection on the stigma of the flower. 

4. Narrowleaf Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium): Named for the slim shape of its leaves, this North American perennial produces clusters of dainty, white flowers from July through September. Part of the mint family, its foliage produces a fresh and appealing fragrance. Narrowleaf mountain mint attracts birds and butterflies to the garden, and is an important source of nectar for native bees and other pollinators.

5. Blue Mist Spirea (Caryopteris clandonensis): Attractive to bees and butterflies, this deciduous shrub can thrive through summer heat and drought, growing up to four feet tall. Its deep blue flowers appear in late summer and offer long-lasting color in the garden. The flowers and foliage of spirea are aromatic, making it a welcome addition to garden beds and cut bouquets alike.

6. Coreopsis: One of the garden's longest bloomers, coreopsis offer daisy-like blooms in a sunny shade of yellow. Beneficial for many pollinators, it is an especially important flower for some species of Lepidoptera butterflies. Native to American prairies, coreopsis is a low-maintenance bloom that prefers ample sunlight and well-drained soil. 

Photo credits: 1. Naadia Ashan; 2. [cipher]; 3. Peter O'Connor; 4. Cyndy Sims Parr; 5. Patrick Standish; 6. Jim, the Photographer

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2 Comments

Marivi said…

Can all of these be planted this time of year?

  • terrain said…

    August 23, 2017 at 9:27AM

    Hi! You can plant all of these fall perennials now. Good fall care will increase their chances of winter survival. Plant now so the roots can move into the native soil, and water well until the ground freezes. Apply a generous layer of mulch around the new plants to conserve water and mitigate soil heaving. If you're in the Northeast, we recommend a different mountain mint variety, Pycnanthemum muticum. Gaura and plumbago should be planted near stone walls or rocky outcroppings.

Joan said…

Are any of these late bloomers resistant to deer? Thanks!

  • terrain said…

    August 22, 2017 at 2:19PM

    Hi! All of these plants are deer-resistant, except for mountain mint.

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