7 Perennials that Add Gorgeous Autumn Colors to Your Yard

switchgrass fall color
Photo: Blaine Moats

Trees and shrubs aren't the only plants that can brighten the autumn landscape as their leaves turn color. When flowers start to fade and petals drop, several perennials offer pretty fall foliage to keep the garden show going. These easy-to-grow plants perfectly mirror the reds, yellows, and oranges of the trees overhead.

01 of 07


hostas with fall color
Kritsada Panichgul

Though hostas are usually a top choice for adding easy color to shade gardens in spring and summer, they can also play a starring role in fall. Many varieties will turn beautiful shades of gold before the first fall frost and can be good complements to other autumn shade plants.

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

Size: To 3 feet tall or more, depending on variety

Zones: 3-8

Buy It: Hosta Mixture ($13, Breck's)

02 of 07

Bloody Cranesbill

bloody geranium with fall color
Greg Scheidemann

Don't let the plant's gory-sounding name scare you; bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) earned its colorful moniker from the brilliant red hues the foliage develops in autumn (and the seeds resemble the long, narrow beak of a crane). This perennial geranium is pretty in spring and summer when it offers pink, purple, or white flowers.

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

Size: To 1 foot tall

Zones: 4-8

03 of 07


fern fall color
Denny Schrock

Several different ferns turn red, orange, gold, and tan shades in fall. Their lacy texture contrasts with bolder shrubs and trees with bright autumn shades. Some of the best selections for fall include autumn fern (shown here), sensitive fern, ostrich fern, and royal fern.

Growing Conditions: Shade and moist, well-drained soil

Size: To 6 feet tall, depending on variety

Zones: 2-10, depending on variety

04 of 07


switchgrass fall color
Blaine Moats

A good ornamental grass for adding interest to your garden all year, 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.

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

Size: To 6 feet or more

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Northwind Switchgrass ($8, Walmart)

05 of 07


bluestar with yellow fall foliage
Denny Schrock

A tough perennial for fall that offers lots of benefits, bluestar (Amsonia spp.) has attractive blue flowers in spring, golden fall foliage, and good drought tolerance. It's also not very high on the menu for hungry critters and other pests. Let it light up your landscape in autumn.

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

Size: To 2 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: 'Blue Ice' Bluestar ($24, The Home Depot)

06 of 07


epimedium barrenwort groundcover
Marty Baldwin

An easy perennial for fall that offers shade, barrenwort (Epimedium spp.) produces tidy mounds of heart-shaped foliage that can take on sunset hues of yellow, orange, and red as weather cools toward the end of the growing season. Place these plants where they'll get a little sun for the best fall color.

Growing Conditions: Full to part shade and average soil; can tolerate drought

Size: 1-2 feet

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Lilafee Fairy Wings ($23, Breck's)

07 of 07


peony fall foliage
Dean Schoeppner

In years of good growing conditions, peonies can offer the garden wonderful, glowing shades of color. 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.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: To 3 feet tall

Zones: 3-8

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