Q: I like planting mums and asters for color in my fall garden, but are there any other perennials for our area that could also add colorful blooms to my fall garden? — E. W.
A: Late-season interest in the fall garden can be achieved with the following hardy herbaceous perennials:
Tricyrtis spp., common name Toad Lily, is a shade-loving perennial that has a unique orchid-like bloom. The speckled blossoms can be white, pink or purple, depending on the cultivar. The arching stems hold leaves that are green or variegated with other shades of green, with the variegation being much showier if grown in shade. Tricyrtis range in height from 2 to 3 feet.
Sedum spp. (Stonecrop) are drought tolerant perennials that range in height from a few inches to two feet or so. These sun-lovers offer a wide range of foliage color from green to blue-grey to burgundy. Flowers come in a variety of pink shades as well as white and muted red. While some types have a sprawling growth habit, others are more upright. The succulent-like leaves, which assist with their water holding capacity, give them a key identifying feature. Some stonecrop types will bloom in summer, yet many bloom later in the season with the color intensifying with the arrival of fall.
Fall blooming Anemone are gaining in popularity. Ranging in height from under 1 foot to 4 feet, they grow best in sun or partial shade sites that are well-drained. In varying hues of pink or white, the petals may be arranged in single or double rows. The flowers are held atop mounds of green to dark green foliage. Their showy display signals the impending end to a garden’s growing season.
Rudbeckia spp., commonly referred to as Black-eyed Susan, begin blooming mid-season but continue flowering through early to mid-fall. The golden yellow, daisy-like blossoms offer the perfect pigment of fall. Some types grow to only 1 foot in height while others can reach heights of 3 to 4 feet. Sunny sites are the best for Rudbeckia. Unfortunately, several varieties are susceptible to Septoria leaf spot, causing brown to black spots on the foliage and stems. Allowing for ample air circulation around plants may decrease the incidence of this fungal disease.
Eupatorium spp., Joe-Pye Weed, is another perennial that begins blooming mid-season but flowers continually through early fall. The pink flowers turn to brown by early winter but can be left standing for winter interest. This plant can dominate a garden with its 5- to 6-foot height; yet, cultivars of Eupatorium have been developed that are much shorter in stature. With types that grow in either sun or shade, this butterfly attracting perennial will make a nice addition to the fall garden.
Don’t overlook ornamental grasses. Their foliage and flowers (inflorescences) are fitting for fall impact in the landscape.