Having plants blooming through the fall is a way to enjoy your garden longer and use your yard to decorate your home. These are the most reliable fall flowers to plant that bloom in fall, both perennials and annuals. Some are workhorses that have bloomed all summer and just continue to frost!
Even though it seems like most websites I visit in the fall are talking about pumpkins, leaves, fall, and getting cozy by the fire, I’m still busy enjoying our garden’s September and October blooms!
Though there are many things I enjoy about autumn, I’m usually drug kicking and screaming into it because I know the seemingly endless cold and gray days will soon follow in the Pacific Northwest area.
I need a good two weeks of September to wrap my head around the fact that summer is over, so I don't usually start putting out the pumpkins until mid September.
And October seems like such a lackluster month for flowers, doesn't it? If you don't have snow already, then everything’s browning, shutting down, or becoming bare.
While the main focus of fall always seems to be the trees and their glorious leaf colors, I'm always surprised to find quite a few annuals, perennials, and shrubs still blooming. Some of them bloom in the fall and some get a second wind when the rains start again, but all are equally lovely.
A gardener's goal with flower beds is to have color from the spring through the fall.
So after planting your easy spring blooming plants and the reliable plants that bloom in the dog days of August, think about planting some of these plants with gorgeous flowers that put on a wonderful show through the fall.
Note: all the photos were taken in my PNW zone 8 garden with somewhat mild winters and a season that runs from an April to October frosts.
15+ Fall Flowers to Plant
Annuals That Bloom Through Fall
Annuals are plants that live just one season, so need to be replanted yearly. They are sometimes called "bedding plants" and are in abundance at garden centers, stores, and nurseries in the spring.
Even though they have to be planted each year, the benefit of growing annuals is that they usually bloom and grow all season, providing color in spring, summer, and fall.
I grow mainly perennials, since they don't have to be planted every year, but I always fill in spots with annuals.
Here are a few of my favorite workhorses that bloom through the fall:
The picture above of Victoria salvia was taken in October one year in our cottage garden. Gardeners know that having a plant that blooms prolifically that late in the season is wonderful.
Salvia likes sun to part shade (it was in part shade above), amended soil (I only used the newspaper mulch method and no extra fertilizer), and regular watering.
Like all annuals, you can keep it blooming by deadheading (cutting off spend blooms) regularly.
Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
The photo of white Nicotiana above was also taken in October when it was still blooming its head off. It didn't stop until a heavy frost killed it.
Nicotiana comes in shades of white, pink, red, purple, and yellow, as well as a lime green color. They range in sizes from 10 inches up to 5 feet.
It's sometimes harder to find the taller varieties that are good for filling in spots in borders, like the 3-foot one above, but worth searching them out for the long-lasting color.
While the dwarf cosmos (the easiest type to find) are usually done blooming by the end of summer, the tall cosmos like the one pictured above usually blooms until frost.
I love cosmos for cut flowers and their cottagey look in the garden. Oh, and the pastel colors - can you see I'm a fan of pastels? They like sun and regular water.
They are easy to grow from seed, so I'd search out some of the taller varieties like the bi-colored pink 'daydream' or 'picotee,' white 'purity,' or a tall mix cosmos where you can have colors ranging from white all the way to dark pink.
The gorgeous pink begonia above is pictured in the middle of September and lasted until the beginning of October in a pot by our front door. By that time I replaced it with mini-white pumpkins.
It bloomed like this in complete shade from April - quite a show, right?
I've found the tuberous begonias to be longer lasting than the easier to find wax begonias, but really, it's the blossoms that are so much prettier, I think.
Perennials & Shrubs That Bloom in Fall
If you want the easiest to maintain cottage garden look for a flower bed, it's best to invest in perennials and a few shrubs for the main design. After the initial purchase, they will grow bigger and fill in, blooming for you every year.
The one downside with perennials and some shrubs is that they tend to have a shorter bloom time. There are a few exceptions, though, and if you're looking for the biggest bang for your buck, those are the plants to search out.
And when you choose plants that bloom - or keep blooming - in the fall, you will extend your gardens season, provide clippings for your house, and keep your space looking pretty longer.
The following plants are pictured in my garden in the months of September and October so you can see the show they will put on until frost. They are some of the best fall flowers to plant!
Fuchsia 'Delta's Sara'
This incredible fuchsia was a grocery-store impulse purchase because the white and purple blooms were so beautiful. I originally thought it was an annual because of the blooms even though it had an upright habit (it didn't have a tag).
Luckily, I don't pull anything until the spring and that's when I discovered that it was coming back! It's three years old in this photo and simply one of the best things I ever planted, blooming like this from spring through to frost.
While the specs for this variety says full sun to part shade, this was planted in almost full shade in our north-facing porch garden and loved it. It had regular water and the annal layer of compost-type mulch.
I'd cut it back in the early spring and then it would take off, growing to about 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, but with arching branches.
Rudbekia (Black-eyed Susan) & Ceanothus (California Lilac)
Isn't this combo terrific? Black-eyed Susan is a favorite for late summer into fall flowers but with the backdrop of the later blooming ceanothus (the 3 to 5 foot 'Gloire de Versailles') it's elevated to something special.
Ceanothus like drier soils, but still well-amended and the two I had did particularly well with the annual layer of mulch.
Both of these plants like full sun, though the rudbekia needs regular water (contrary to what I always heard - that it was drought tolerant) and I've read the ceanothus actually shouldn't be watered regularly.
But both of these were on a soaker hose that ran about once a week and as you can see they did great.
Aster (Michaelmas Daisies)
Asters are maybe what many people think about for fall blooms and they are definitely a big part of my garden's fall color. They start blooming in August and continue through to frost.
One of the things I appreciate the most about asters is that they spread nicely and also are easy to dig up a section and plant it somewhere else. After a few years, I had them planted all throughout the backyard, providing that late summer-fall pops of color.
Liking full sun to partial shade asters come in shades of white, blue, purple and pink and need regular watering as well as the yearly layer of compost.
Surprisingly in our zone 8 garden there are quite a few roses that continue to bloom until frost in October.
They include the old fashioned English David Austin rose, 'Mary Rose,' above, and the sweet 'fairy rose' below:
It often takes a break from blooming in our dry late summer months, but then bursts into bloom again when the rains come.
The Fairy Rose is one of my all-time favorite roses for beauty and easy-care. You don’t even have to deadhead these if you don’t want. That's my kind of rose.
Except it does get blackspot (the yellowing leaves to the right). But everything gets blackspot in Oregon. Sigh.
There are some places where native fleabane is invasive or seen as a weed, but in our area, it's more behaved, just spreading nicely to fill in empty areas in the border.
And it's sweet little daisy-like flowers bloom in full sun through most of the season, sometimes taking a break in the hottest, driest time, but then bursting back into bloom after the rains until the first frost.
Most information on fleabane mentions the annual plant which can reseed, but I grew a perennial hybrid of Daisy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus). This plant was a blessing to me, spreading enough in one season to be divided and grown in other parts of the yard as a front of the border filler.
You can see that it's a nice compliment to lavender (with a second fall bloom) and an annual dahlia in the autumn garden.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this plant. I LOVE the delicate, airy blooms, the sweet pastel color that blooms late summer to frost (a rare thing in the gardening world), the lush growth and the hardiness.
I don't like how much it spreads, though. At the beginning, it's great - you just dig up the part that's overgrown it's area and move it to a new area to fill in. Boom - more pretty fall blossoms.
But then, you don't have anymore areas to fill and you've now got multiple plants to dig out and reign in every single year. Sigh.
In my clay soil in full sun to partial sun areas, it only spread out from the center growth, but in my mom's mostly shady and moist garden, her Japanese anemone would sprout new growth up to 12 FEET away from the plant! That makes it officially a weed.
So, plant in areas without loose soil or in containers or be prepared to dig a lot of new shoots.
The hardy geranium pictured is called ‘monster’ – not a surprise name from the size, is it?
Believe it or not, I cut this back hard in June after it finished its first flush of blooms. It has been blooming on and off ever since - and growing, lol.
Hardy geraniums come in lots of different varities, though, that aren't as large as this one and they all have the habit of blooming until frost even though they are perennials. They are also easy to divide to fill in around the garden.
They like full sun and regular water with just a layer of compost applied in the spring.
(In the background is another perennial purple daisy-like aster that I can’t remember the name of).
Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
I actually grew two varieties of fall blooming sedums, 'autumn joy' and 'indian summer' and both are perfection in the fall garden.
The heads start forming in July on the fleshy leaves and start green, slowly gaining colors of pinks, reds, and mauves throughout the rest of the summer until frost.
They spread nicely to fill in areas and are good cut flowers, too. They mix well with other flowers and grow in both sun and partial shade. I think they are more drought tolerant, but I gave mine regular water and the yearly compost and they loved it.
For some yarrow can be invasive, but in my garden it was always well behaved and in fact I often lost it in a harsh winter. And I loved the shape of it's blooms, the easy growth, and the fern like leaves.
I especially love the pastel yarrow with its shades pinks. It makes a great cut flower, too. The butterflies and bees love it, too, so if you can plant it, do!
Yarrow is drought resistant and not bothered by pests. It grows to between 1 and 3 feet and is also a medicinal herb that helps with fevers and inflammation.
Of course. One of the reasons to grow hydgrangea shrubs is because of their long blooming that starts in spring and goes until frost.
And most of the varieties turn lovely colors as they age - the blossom above started out a vibrant blue and has turned this mellow purple color by late September.
It's at this point you can cut the blooms and bring them in to dry by just placing them in a vase with no water. So easy!
Hydrangeas used to be known as only a shade plant, but there are many more varieties now, including some that do well in sun. They do all need regular watering and good soil to bloom the best, though.
While not a plant that blooms, I had to add this to the list because the color is arresting in the fall garden. Any visitors to the garden at this time always comment on the color!
There are many, many varieties of Japanese maples, so you should be able to find one to fit your area. The one above was planted when we move to the house, so I don't know the variety, but it never grew more than four feet in height. There are some that grow to 30 feet, so you'll want to do your homework.
But all have absolutely beautiful color in the fall and the easy care of small shrubs and trees.
I hope this has helped you find some wonderful fall flowers to plant! If you're wondering what other garden things you can do in the fall, check out a few of these articles:
Jean Inouye says
Thank you. You’re educational,inspirational and entertaining.
I live in southwest oregon zone 7 with rocky clay soil. Most of my garden is in raised beds, fenced in but having problem with deer in my flower beds. Do you have deer raiding your garden ? Do you have deer resistant flower recommendations?
Oh, thank you for your sweet comment, Jean!
And, oh, do I have deer!! We had an occasional problem in our last garden (where I was able to grow all the plants pictured in this article), but our new farmhouse is plagued by the most voracious deer ever. They eat almost anything! It's pretty frustrating.
I've made room in my fenced garden for the hydrangeas I love and other cut flowers, but outside I'm only going to be able to grow the most deer resistant plants which are most herbs and smelly plants. I'm still working on a developing a larger garden when we're done with the remodeling, but in the small areas I've planted so far I've had luck with these:
-alyssum (though at the end of the season they would "taste" it or chomp the flowers some).
I'll continue to experiment and will write up my successes and failures when I have more results, so stay tuned!