You may be looking around your neighborhood with envy this time of year, admiring the gorgeous shrubs, plants and small trees giving their yearly, and spectacular fall foliage show. If you, like myself, have fall color envy, then here are some great fall garden plants for autumn color you can plant this fall or next spring. Next year, it will be your turn for people to slow down and stare as they pass your home! These fall flowers, plants and trees will be show stoppers! We gave you links on where to find all these plants online, as well!
Best Fall Garden Plants for Autumn Color
Perennials to Plant in Fall
Forget Mums, you want the bang of perennial asters in your garden, year after year! Purple Dome is a variety that only grows to 2 feet tall and wide, is deer resistant, and will thrive in both full sun and part shade. Hardy down to Zone 4, it’s a butterfly favorite.
Coreopsis Moonbeam not only blooms with it’s yellow daisy like flowers all fall, it blooms all summer too! Hardy to Zone 3, it loves sun, will tolerate partial shade, and is drought resistant once established. Growing 18 inches high and wide, it is deer resistant as well. Pairs great with asters, or with our next pick…
One of our favorite drought resistant plants, this too blooms from mid summer right through late fall. You can get it in sizes from 4 feet tall, down to dwarfs of 18 inches. Loves the sun, and is deer, rabbit and heat resistant. They make great cut flowers too! We are obsessed with the variety Warm Summer! Its got amazing colorations from yellows through to reds and every sunset color in between. Growing to 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide, this one is a keeper for any fall flower garden. Bonuses? The butterflies love the flowers, and if you let the late fall blooms dry on the plant, the birds will eat the seeds in the cones, and they will look good into frost with their shape and form.
If you want cut flowers to brighten your home in the fall, Rudbeckia Goldsturm is a great choice. Grows fast to 24-36 inches high, and blooms with abandon mid summer through fall. Great border flower, and once established, it is disease resistant and drought tolerant. A former Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year!
Annual Fall Flowers to Plant
Otherwise known as cockscomb, celosia is an annual fall flower that is full of color, is easy to grow, loves the sun and makes a pretty dried flower as well. Stunning en masse in a border. If you really want to stop traffic, go for a bold variety such as Arrabona Red. Grow it from seed starting in mid summer for a fall bloom, or find similar varieties at almost any nursery.
Pansies are one of our favorite hardy annual fall flowers to plant. They flower well into frost, and in milder climates can be grown as perennials. We love the Spreading Pansy Collection. It has four varieties of pansy that spread up to 2 1/2 feet across. One of these four varieties is ‘Raspberry Swirl’, below. Lovely, and great for containers as well.
Ornamental Kale loves the cooler weather of late fall. It is a perfect companion to pansies in a fall container, or you can use it as a winter bedding plant in the border. Easy to care for, and once you get them established in early fall, they pretty much take care of themselves. They will keep on giving you autumn color when the hard frosts come, and well into winter as well! We like the variety Pink Crane. You can get it in a pack of 12 plants, or buy it in seed form and grow your own.
There are tons of different varieties of sunflowers these days. They will bloom well into late fall if you plant the seeds in 2 week successive sowings. They love full sun, and their heads will turn to face the sun as the day passes. We love Teddy Bear. This is a dwarf sunflower only two feet high with unusual, fluffy looking heads. They work well in containers or in the fall flower border as well.
Fall Shrubs and Trees
Sumac is a small landscape tree that has spectacular autumn color. This is a fall plant that is a four season show, as its attractive berries hang on through winter. Landscape Sumacs are not poisonous like, well like poison sumac. Best fall plant plant for autumn color around! This is “Tiger Eyes” from ‘Nature Hills Nursery‘.
Maples of any kind have beautiful fall color, but the Japanese Maple is a smaller tree suitable for any garden, and is decorative as well. Japanese Maples thrive in most parts of the country. In colors from red to chartreuse to yellow and orange, they are the stars of any fall garden. Find out more about them at ‘Monrovia‘.
Burning Bush (Euonymus)
This mid sized shrub turns a deep and eye catching red every fall. A hedge of them can be breathtaking! They can have thorns, and attract bees in the summer, but are a good all around fall plant for autumn foliage color that makes a great backdrop during the rest of the year to flowers and grasses. We love “Cole’s Compact” over at ‘Monrovia‘.
Smoke Bush (Cotinus)
This fall garden plant doesn’t do the usual orange and yellow… if you need a change, this maroon shrub changes over to a deep, dramatic purple and red and blooms smoke like tufts of flowers. Very good specimen plant! Jump on over to ‘Monrovia‘ to see our fav variety “Grace” and to check out what they look like in bloom!
This is not the classic mophead hydrangea, but the variety that blooms with white, long panicles in late summer, and has oak shaped leaves. The leaves of this fall plant turn gorgeous shades of red in fall. This make a great three season plant for any garden. Hardy to zone 5, loves partial shade. Check out the varieties at ‘Plant Addict‘.
Many of these fall garden plants aren’t suited to the warm winters of the South, so for those of you below the Mason Dixon line, we have a fall foliage suggestion for you as well. Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina) is a delicate looking rounded shrub that comes in a great dwarf form as well, and performs well in most parts of the country to zone 10. The deep red foliage of the Nandina generally begins to appear in late summer to early fall and holds its color throughout the winter season. In fact, the Heavenly Bamboo Nandina will go through several color changes throughout the spring, summer and fall to provide you with a unique look all year long! Try “Tuscan Flame” from ‘Monrovia‘.
While most ornamental grasses don’t technically turn fall colors, they are worth mentioning here as a fall garden plant worth having. Many turn a deep bronze with the cold weather, and add a texture to the garden as important as color.
However, Miscanthus “Purpurascens” (flame grass) flowers emerge magenta, then in fall turn silky white. The normally gray-green foliage earns its fiery name in fall when it changes to a brilliant flaming orange.
Shenandoah Switch Grass is a popular newer grass with great fall color. In summer, the leaves on this slow-growing upright ornamental grass feature attractive red-stained tips, but in fall the leaves turn rich black-burgundy.This plant also has a clouds of feathery pink flowers to boot!
Pennisetum is a fountain grass that turns golden yellow in the fall. “Hameln” from ‘Monrovia‘ is a dwarf variety that does not self seed.
So plant one or two this year, and enjoy that fall color in the coming seasons. Nothing says fall like fall garden plants and flowers with amazing autumn colors! We think you will also love our post on Fall Lawn Care Tricks and Fabulous Fall Container Ideas!