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Fall Perennials for the Garden


Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner, authors of The Nonstop Garden, share their favorite selections for late-season perennials.

We are naturally drawn to whatever is in flower when we visit the nursery or garden center. Because we often find ourselves purchasing plants in spring, we sometimes forget that we need some VIPs (very important plants) for fall.

When it comes to flowers, Japanese anemone (Anemone xhybrida cultivars, USDA Zones 4–7) and sedum (Sedum spp. and cultivars, Zones 3–11) are excellent perennial choices for shade and sun, respectively, while caryopteris or bluebeard (Caryopteria spp. and cultivars, Zones 5–9) is a great sun-loving shrubby option. Asters (Symphyotrichum spp. and cultivars, syn. Aster, Zones 3–9) and hardy mums (Dendranthema spp. and cultivars, syn. Chrysanthemum, Zones 3–9) are among the kings of the autumn bloomers. If you are lucky enough to live in a southern climate, fall-blooming camellia hybrids (Camellia cultivars, Zones 7–9) are absolutely stunning in the late-autumn landscape.

Foliage is a top fall attribute as well. Redbuds (Cercis spp. and cultivars, Zones 4–9) produce a lovely yellow fall color, while shrubs like Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica and cultivars, Zones 5–9) have gorgeous red leaves. Both will take some shade, but the leaf color is more intense when the plants are given more sun.

Keep in mind that woody plants are not the only show in town. Some perennials celebrate the season in colorful hues, too—bluestars (Amsonia spp. and cultivars, Zones 3–10), geraniums (Geranium spp. and cultivars, Zones 3–9) and lots of ornamental grasses, just to name a few.

This post is excerpted from The Nonstop Garden (Timber Press, 2010) by Stephanie Cohen and Jennifer Benner.

Image Credit: Flickr


Get a jump-start on your spring garden with GHTU Fall Gardening Tips & Spring Planning.

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