Skip to main content

8 beautiful, fall-blooming perennials to add to your garden

From aster to sneezeweed, here are the best autumn flowers to grow

Blooming perennial flower garden along a walkway
Violetta Honkisz / Shutterstock

A beautiful year-round landscape is the result of planning for diversity. After all, plants come in a huge range of forms and types, from the tallest trees to the tiniest flowers. The appeal of each kind changes throughout the seasons, with some showing off early in the year and others displaying peak interest much later. Plenty of attention goes to the bright foliage of deciduous trees in autumn, but let’s not overlook the fall-blooming perennials.

Perennials are the herbaceous (non-woody) plants that grow back year after year. Although they typically offer a much shorter blooming season compared with annual flowers, perennials offer a variety of other benefits. These late bloomers look their best as the summer annuals begin to look ragged and worn. By blooming within a window of only a few short weeks, they add to the evolving seasonal interest of the landscape. Plus, many attract and support native wildlife, like butterflies, birds, and bees, by producing the nectar, pollen, and seeds they need for nourishment.

Below are eight beautiful types of perennials for you to consider planting in your garden.

Beautiful calico aster blooms
Lamberrto / Shutterstock

1. Aster, Symphyotrichum spp.

Asters include more than a half dozen species and many hybrids and cultivars that bloom between late summer and the end of fall. Most selections grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide, usually in a mounding form. They produce an abundance of small, daisy-like purple, blue, pink, or white nectar-producing flowers that attract butterflies and bees.

Close up of a red ladybug on a stalk of goldenrod
Jean Landry / Shutterstock

2. Goldenrod, Solidago spp.

Native goldenrod grows as a large clump of erect stems with lance-shaped foliage throughout the summer season. At the end of summer, bright, golden-yellow spiked clusters of tiny flowers erupt to brighten fields, roadsides, and gardens, and to feed hungry pollinators. From more than 75 goldenrod species that are native to North America, plant developers have introduced just a handful of improved cultivars, mostly with more compact growth than the wild species. Look for ‘Fireworks,’ ‘Wichita Mountains,’ or ‘Golden Fleece’ at your local garden center.

autumn joy sedum with flowers
Mark Herreid / Shutterstock

3. Sedum, Hylotelephium spectabile

Sedum is a succulent perennial plant that grows in either a trailing or mounding form. The all-time favorite for fall gardens is ‘Autumn Joy,’ with its smooth blue-green foliage and large pink flower clusters that open in mid-August or September. This selection, along with the deeper red ‘Autumn Fire,’ and brilliant ‘Purple Emperor,’ provides a complementary texture and color when paired with black-eyed Susans and white-flowered asters.

Purple wildflower
Nguyen Hung / Pexels

4. Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium purpureum

Joe Pye Weed has been a part of American native herbal remedies since ancient times. It also looks great in fall gardens. Through the growing season, the stems gradually attain a height of 5 to 6 feet before bloom time, making it a perfect privacy perennial. The large pink flower heads make a bold statement at the back of the perennial border, interplanted with similarly sized goldenrods and ironweeds.

A field of black-eyed susans
Julianne Caust / Shutterstock

5. Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia fulgida

The bright, cheerful blooms of Black-eyed Susan typically begin to emerge around the time back-to-school ads begin. They are some of the most popular annual plants, partly for their massive displays of large flowers that last for two months or longer, but also because they retain a more compact size. This is an excellent choice for smaller landscapes, dry gardens, mass plantings, mixed perennial borders, and most other garden situations.

Scarecrow among fall flowers
Romiana Lee / Shutterstock

6. Ironweed, Veronia spp.

Ironweed is prized for its rich purple flowers, deep green foliage, and stiff, upright structure. It may grow as high as 8 feet or remain below 3 feet, depending on the species, cultivar, and growing conditions. It loves moist soil, making it an excellent choice for rain gardens, but also tolerates dry conditions. Ironweed may be difficult to find at the local garden center, but online retailers carry it.

Yellow sneezeweed
Elena Umyskova / Pexels

7. Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale

Don’t let the name deter you. It’s called Sneezeweed because of an old medicinal use. Legend has it that the dried foliage was used to make snuff that would induce sneezing, and thereby rid the body of evil. It does not contribute to your typical seasonal allergies. Sneezeweed grows into an attractive 3- to 5-foot tall plant that covers itself in bright, green-tinted-yellow, daisy-like flowers each fall.

A close-up of pink coneflower blooms
LapaiIrKrapai / Shutterstock

8. Coneflower, Echinacea

Coneflowers are hardy blooms in the daisy family that come in a wide variety of cheerful hues such as red, orange, yellow, white, pink, and purple. Available in single-, double-, and triple-petaled varieties, they can grow up to 3 feet tall, which makes them perfect for adding height to your flower borders. If you’re looking for an easy-going bloom, coneflowers are also relatively low maintenance, tolerating bouts of drought. Plus, they resist deer and attract pollinators such as birds and bees. Coneflowers are also easy to find at garden centers, so you can pick some up the next time you drop by your local nursery.

A small bowl shaped planter with autumn flowers, mainly light green, light pink, and dark pink.
Galina Grebenyuk / Shutterstock

How to grow fall blooming perennials

The best time to plant perennials is in the spring. That way, they can become established through the summer and provide their full impact in fall. However, the second best time to plant them is whenever they’re available to purchase. If you plant them in late summer or fall, when the selection tends to be best at local retailers, the plants will thrive with a moderate amount of care.

Plant perennials in average garden soil that has been amended with a 2-inch layer of compost. After planting, cover the root zone with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch and water well. Water new plants daily for the first week or so, until they begin to produce new growth. Then, water two or three times per week, if it hasn’t rained. Monitor the plant’s progress, and increase or decrease the watering schedule when necessary.

After the growing season, allow the brown stems to stand in the garden through winter. In the spring, when the new foliage emerges, remove the prior year’s old, brown growth.

With these blooming perennials at the top of your mind this season, go forth and establish a lush, vibrant garden this autumn. With careful maintenance as the temperatures wind down, you’ll be able to enjoy these flowers in the coming spring.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Wolfe
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mark Wolfe is a freelance writer who specializes in garden, landscaping, and home improvement. After two decades in the…
Cosmos flower care: How to grow this daisy-esque bloom
Tips for growing cosmos flowers in your garden
A field of pink and white cosmos flowers

There are a wide variety of native wildflowers you can add to your garden, from vibrant blanket flowers to charming coneflowers. Cosmos flowers are another great choice. They come in a range of colors and sizes, attract pollinators, and are incredibly easy to grow. Perfect for warm, dry climates, these resilient wildflowers are sure to add color and joy to practically any garden. Want to get started growing your own cosmos flowers? This guide will answer all your questions, from planting to pests, including whether you can grow them indoors.
Planting cosmos flowers

Cosmos, like most other wildflowers, are easy to plant. Start in mid to late spring, after the last frost of the year has passed, unless you plan on starting them indoors and transplanting them. When growing cosmos flowers from seed, don't bury them deeply. Less than half an inch, ideally around a quarter of an inch, is deep enough. A light covering will protect the seeds but still allow sunlight to reach them.

Read more
Bee balm is a fantastic addition to a pollinator garden – what to know
Build your pollinator garden with beautiful bee balm
Scarlet bee balm

Pollinator gardens are great for your yard and the environment, and there are many wonderful plants you can choose from when planning one. Bee balm is a popular choice, and it has many benefits. If you’re starting a pollinator garden or curious about adding bee balm to an existing one, then this is the guide for you. We’ll explain everything you need to know about planting and caring for bee balm, so you can enjoy this beautiful flower and all the benefits that come with it.
The benefits of bee balm

In addition to being beautiful, bee balm’s vibrant red, pink, and purple flowers are highly attractive to pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds are drawn to their flowers. Bee balm is easy to grow and will spread to fill an area. However, it doesn't spread as aggressively as other members of the mint family, making it easier to control. Additionally, some bee balm species are native to North America! In particular, scarlet bee balm is native to the eastern side of the U.S. and Canada. A few other species are native as well, but scarlet bee balm is one of the more popular bee balm species for gardens.
Planting bee balm

Read more
If you want a garden that blooms year-round, plant these flowers
Here's how to strategically map out your garden for blooms throughout the year
Blooming perennial flower garden along a walkway

If you love gardening and appreciate flowers in spring and summer, why not grow a four-season garden? It's possible to have a bright, colorful landscape throughout the year if you plan for it. Plant selection is the key. By choosing a diverse collection of shrubs, perennials, trees, and annuals that bloom in different seasons, you can map out a garden with year-round flowers. Let’s get started.
Finding flowers for a year-round garden

Observe your garden
Before buying anything, get to know your garden’s growing conditions, starting with your climate zone. Also, observe to understand its lighting. Where is it shady in the afternoon? Which parts get hot sunshine all day? Do you have spots that get little or no direct sunlight? Keep in mind, too, that the sunlight changes throughout the year with the rise and fall of the sun’s angle. Plus, you should take into account how leaves grow and fall from deciduous trees.
Mix it up
In order to cover all the seasons, you’ll need to choose a diverse selection of flora from different plant categories. Some of the best flowers for late winter and early spring come from trees, shrubs, and bulbs. In spring, summer, and fall, flowers abound among annuals and perennials. Winter flowers, not uncommon in mild climates, are rare for northern gardeners. Colorful fruits and foliage can help to fill the void.
Invest in native and perennial plants
Annuals can be attractive additions to your garden, but they usually won't last for more than one growing season. If you want to cut back on the time you spend planting, consider investing in native and perennial plants, which should come back every year in your garden. Because they naturally come from your area, native plants feature the added benefit of providing food and shelter to native wildlife creatures, such as birds. To find native plants, you can use tools like the Native Plant Finder or ask your local nursery if they carry any native plants. Many nurseries will also have an entire section dedicated to perennials for their local region.
Beyond flowers
A garden’s appeal goes beyond flowers. Plants offer a host of other interesting elements, like foliage color and texture, varying sizes and forms, interesting branch structure, motion in the wind, attraction to wildlife, and scents associated with flowers and foliage.
Get inspired
Look for inspiration in public gardens, parks, and garden centers. If you see an interesting plant around town, snap a pic and take it to your local garden center for help with identification. Be sure your photos are in focus and show details such as the overall plant size and shape. Your local nurseries may have it on hand, or they might be able to order it for you.
Suggestions for flowers throughout the year

Read more