6 Perennials with Beautiful Fall Foliage

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Celebrate the fall season with perennials that develop stunning fall foliage at season's end.

Hosta

Though we tend to think of hostas for adding easy color to shade gardens in spring and summer, they can also play a starring roll in fall. Many selections show lovely shades of gold and buff before frost and can be great companions for other fall-interest shade plants.

Name: Hosta selections

Growing Conditions: Part to full shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall or more, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8

Native to North America: No

Bloody Geranium

Don't let the plant's gory-sounding name scare you; it earned its moniker from the glowing red colors the foliage develops in autumn. It's pretty in spring and summer, too, when it offers pink, purple, or white flowers.

Name: Geranium sanguineum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

Native to North America: No

Ferns

A number of different ferns turn shades of red, orange, gold, and tan in fall. Their lacy texture is a great contrast to bolder shrubs and trees with bright autumn shades. Some of the best selections for fall include sensitive fern, ostrich fern, and royal fern.

Name: Depends on selection

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 2-10, depending on variety

Native to North America: Depends on variety

Switchgrass

One of our favorite grasses, switchgrass puts on a fine fall show. For outstanding red fall color look for selections such as 'Shenandoah' and 'Rotstrahlbusch'. Others, such as 'Heavy Metal' are great for adding a touch of gold to the autumn landscape.

Name: Panicum virgatum

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet or more

Zones: 5-9

Native to North America: Yes

Bluestar

Bluestar is a tough perennial that offers lots of lots of benefits: It has attractive blue flowers, golden fall foliage, is drought tolerant, and is avoided by hungry critters. Let it light up your landscape in autumn.

Name: Amsonia tabernaemontana

Growing Conditions: Full sun to part shade and well-drained soil

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Native to North America: Yes

Peony

In years with good growing conditions, peonies can offer wonderful, glowing shades of color to the garden. However, they're not the most reliable plants for a fall display; many varieties suffer from leaf spot and may need to be cut down at summer's end.

Name: Paeonia selections

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

Native to North America: No

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