Enjoy colorful flowers in your garden as long as possible with these plants that bloom late in the growing season. Most will even power through the first frost.

By BH&G Garden Editors
Updated August 20, 2020
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After a long, hot summer, the autumn garden doesn't have to end in a sigh. The best gardeners plan for blooms from spring all the way through autumn. By planting fall-blooming perennials that add color when summer annuals and perennials start to fade away, you'll be able to keep enjoying your garden long after the last barbecue of the summer. Some of the trees in your yard will provide beautiful fall foliage, but these perennials will create color and interest throughout your entire garden. Fall is also a good time to plant new perennials, so if you don't already have some of these favorites as part of your landscape, there's no time like the present to plant a few.

fireworks goldenrod plant in garden
Credit: Denny Schrock

1
'Fireworks' Goldenrod

'Fireworks' goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) is an award-winning classic for almost any fall garden. It's a reliable, tough plant, and pollinators love it. Goldenrod can grow to a whopping 8 feet, making it an eye-catching autumn perennial in an open landscape. This fall perennial is deer-resistant and drought-tolerant. The best part: It won't aggravate your allergies (goldenrod pollen often gets incorrectly blamed for your seasonal sniffles, when it's actually the pollen from ragweed, that blooms at the same time).

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

Size: Up to 8 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: 'Fireworks' Goldenrod, ($12, High Country Gardens)

adagio maidengrass in garden
Credit: Bob Stefko

2
'Adagio' Maiden Grass

Autumn is the time when many wispy ornamental grasses shine. Although there are many varieties of maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis), one of the most popular for modern gardens is 'Adagio' because of its dwarf habit. It's also a sterile cultivar, which means it won't reseed all over the garden and become invasive.

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

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: 'Adagio' Maiden Grass, ($25, Planting Tree)

standing ovation little bluestem in garden
Credit: Denny Schrock

3
'Standing Ovation' Little Bluestem

This popular native warm-season grass often flops over unless it's growing close together with other plants. But not 'Standing Ovation' little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), which will stay upright in the fall garden. Plus it's deer-resistant and handles drought well.

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

Size: Up to 4 feet tall

Zones: 3-9

Buy It: 'Standing Ovation' Little Bluestem, ($20, Spring Hill Nurseries)

light blue plumbago flowers blooming
Credit: Denny Schrock

4
Leadwort

Hardy plumbago is also called leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides). Its bright blue flowers provide an unexpected bit of color in the fall as the rest of the landscape fizzles. It's also a drought-tolerant groundcover that can fill in dry, bare spots in your landscape.

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

Size: Up to 12 inches tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: Leadwort Plant, ($15, Etsy)

Blue Sage plant with rich green leaves
Credit: Chipper R. Hatter

5
Pitcher Sage

Pitcher sage (Salvia azurea) is a North American native that provides an alternative to Russian sage. This deer- and drought-resistant perennial also attracts birds with its beautiful blue blooms. (Unlike other varieties of salvia, pitcher sage is not an herb meant to be eaten.)

Growing Conditions: Part sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 5 feet tall

Zones: 5-9

Buy It: California Pitcher Sage Seeds, ($5, Etsy)

lidekense sedum in garden
Credit: Jason Wilde

6
'Lidakense' Sedum

Hardworking, drought-tolerant sedums come in a variety of sizes, from upright perennials to groundcovering varieties like this one called 'Lidakense'. This low-growing succulent welcomes fall with small pink flowers that contrast beautifully with the blue-gray foliage with hints of purple.

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

Size: Up to 6 inches tall

Zones: 2-9

Buy It: 'Lidakense' Sedum, ($11, Great Garden Plants)

honorine jobert windflower
Credit: Helen Norman

7
'Honorine Jobert' Windflower

Windflowers (Anemone x hybrida) come in shades of white, lavender, and pink. They have been popular perennials in American gardens for well over a century, and for good reason. They're easy to grow, even in some shade, and bloom after many other plants have faded. 'Honorine Jobert' is an especially popular variety that will produce white blooms with yellow centers on long, thin stems that will dance in the breeze.

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

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 4-8

Buy It: 'Honorine Jobert' Windflower, ($17, Bluestone Perennials)

pink mexican sage salvia leucantha
Credit: Ed Gohlich

8
Mexican Bush Sage

Hitting its peak bloom when cooler temperatures set in, Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) produces numerous wands of beautiful pinkish-purple blooms. They'll attract an abundance of hummingbirds and butterflies.

Growing Conditions: Full sun and well-drained soil

Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Zones: 8-10

Buy It: Mexican Bush Sage, ($17, Plant Delights Nursery)

Comments (1)

Anonymous
September 20, 2018
The photo above purporting to show hardy plumbago is actually a photo of a flower of a different genus; it is Plumbago auriculata, which definitely is not hardy - it is a native of South Africa and blooms continuously spring through fall but must be brought indoors before the first frost. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides is the hardy leadwort whose photo should be up there in this article.