fall blooming perennials.jpg

Fall Blooming Perennials

Fall perennials can add vibrant color to your yard or landscaping. Many are also butterfly and hummingbird favorites.

Some of the summer perennials will hold their blossoms or color into early fall.  These include hibiscus, coreopsis, Russian sage, black eyed susans, coral bells, some cone flowers, and others. These can be planted for summer color but will last into early fall.


Of these late summer/early fall perennials, the hibiscus is a Natural Plus favorite.  Many people are surprised that they are hardy. New north varieties do very well. They emerge late – mid June – but by mid August are up to 4’ tall and wide and have very large plate size blooms in colors of reds, pinks, and whites. Some varieties have reddish leaves. Plants often have 10-15 blooms at one time. They are truly stunning. Plant in full sun. After the growing season, wait to trim hibiscus back until spring as stems are hollow and more prone to freezing if trimmed back in the fall. Mulch before winter.


Russian Sage is always an easy to grow good choice for summer and early fall color and is heat and drought tolerant. Russian Sage grows about 3’ tall with striking purple blooms and is often used as a background plant. Plant in full sun.


Later fall blooming perennials will add striking color to the late fall garden and will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. (Read more about perennials that attract butterflies)

Some Natural Plus favorites include:

·      Sedums – Large 5-6” clusters of blooms top these sturdy flowers. There are many varieties to choose from with most plants growing from 12-24”. Plant in full sun. They bloom into late fall. One plant might be host to 50 or more butterflies on a beautiful fall day.  


·      Asters – These are an excellent substitute for mums that are very borderline hardy in north Iowa. Purple Dome is a Natural Plus favorite. It grows about 18-24” and is covered with deep purple blooms until a hard frost. These are also butterfly favorites. There are many other varieties of asters including Wood’s Blue, Wood’s Pink, Alma Potschke, etc. Plant in full sun.

·      Pink Turtlehead – Turtlehead is native to wet woodlands and stream areas making it a good choice for wetter areas and rain gardens. Blooms emerge in late August and are deep rosy pink amid dark green leaves. Unique blooms resemble that of a turtle head. Plants grow 2-3’ tall. Plant in full or part sun.  

·      Joe Pye Weed- Plants grow 5-7’ tall and have large fragrant mauve-pink flower clusters that are also a butterfly favorite. A dwarf variety, Little Joe, grows 3-4’. Plants grow best in moist areas in full sun to partial shade. These are also good choices for rain gardens.

·      Helenium – also known as sneezeweed.  A native - plants have bright yellow to red daisy-like blooms. Despite it’s name the plant does not cause hay fever or sniffles. Native Americans believed the plant actually cured fevers and head colds.

Enjoy and savor the vibrant colors, sights, and sounds of fall. 

Learn more about fall plantings...