Autumn is the best time for planting and enjoying flowering perennials. Choose fall-flowering shrubs or smaller perennials and plant them with an ample amount of well-composted soil in October* to ensure that your plants thrive. The coming rains and cooler weather will help their root systems develop fully and enable your garden to become the spectacular showcase that you, and the birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and other local beneficial insects in your neighborhood, have been dreaming of. (*Consult your local planting zone guide)
First off, I suggest considering plants that are native to your area and flower from late summer into fall. If you're short on ideas, look around your neighborhood and see what's working for others around you. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions of plants that are beautiful, require little water, and can be purchased from some of our favorite seed companies.
The first plant that comes to mind is one of the most hardy, fragrant, long-lasting, drought-tolerant, and gorgeous and stands just outside my front door: Rosemary. Not only is it a wonderful cooking herb, the bees absolutely love it.
Lavender is another herb that I plant for its sensational visual beauty and aromatic qualities. My wife and I have twenty of these plants running alongside our recently planted fruit trees to attract bees and aid in pollination.
Ursinia Anthemoides offers an orange profusion of flowers that will attract the attention of butterflies and bees, and all other passersby. Its blooms will last all winter as long as temps don't drop below 30 degrees F.
Simple to grow and nearly ever-blooming, Verbascum "Southern Charm" is a beautiful hybrid perennial that is both drought-tolerant and deer-resistant. The 24"-30" spikes make wonderful cut flower arrangements and will add a touch of glamour to your late summer and fall gardens.
Very attractive to honeybees, Borago Officinalis, or Borage, is a Mediterranean annual flowering herb that blooms continuously from Spring through Fall. Borage provides clusters of sky blue starflowers and edible leaves which are used to make a tea that is purported to have a soothing effect on one's spirit.
Centradenia Floribunda "Spanish Shawl", is often seen as a ground cover in rock gardens or spilling out of a container. This fast growing 12"-24" tall plant has dense, beautiful 2" fuchsia blooms that will stand out from Summer through Fall.
Coreopsis Tinctoria "Tiger Stripes", is an heirloom variety with radiant star-like flowers in shades ranging from orange to mahogany. This flower is particularly easy to grow and requires only average garden soil, yet provides a long-lasting growing season.
The showy Euphorbia Characias is a dwarf variety yet maintains the same large chartreuse flower heads as other members of this genus. I consider these long-blooming, drought-tolerant and deer-resistant plants to be fixtures in any fall garden.
Fuchsia "Galfrey Lye"
Fuchsia "Galfrey Lye", a gorgeous, fast-growing 4' x 3' shrub, will bloom all year long in mild climates yet is also one of the most cold hardy. It enjoys partial shade or bright morning light and will provide abundant blooms when given rich soil and a mid-season top dressing.
Pelargonium "Carmine Red" is an ever-blooming, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant evergreen with massive fist-sized clusters of traffic-stopping blooms with crimson hearts. This extra-bushy variety forms a dense, rounded 3' square shrub.
Penstemon Heterophyllus "Blue Springs" is a California native that puts out vibrant, periwinkle blooms, 6"-12" tall. Dense and compact, the hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to its beauty. Once established, it needs no summer watering. Perfect for xeric or container gardens.
Salvia Chiapensis "Chiapas Sage", produces a 3' square shrub with incredible rose-fuchsia flowers mounted on graceful stems. It can also be grown in a large container along with complementary orange and yellow flowers.
Yarrow, is a perennial that continues to bloom until the cold becomes too extreme. Available in an irresistible mix of blood-red, cerise, cream, yellow, and white.
Black-Eyed Susan, a large yellow daisy with dark brown center is a popular native variety of the North American Great Plains. Good in heat and drought, long-lasting, and quite beautiful.
Gaillardia "Indian Blanket", is an easy to grow, hardy annual that will self-sow. Its yellow and red daisy-like flowers are great for sunny, dry areas.
So, with autumn upon us it's time to get your gloves on, get your shovel out and fill in those bare spots in your garden with some of these very eye-catching selections. Most of these flowers we've suggested can be planted in beds, border gardens, or containers. Soaker Dripline, one of our most versatile drip irrigation products, can be used in any of these situations. If you're still looking for ideas, visit some of the following websites. The autumn skies may be growing gray, but your garden can still be a source of soul-soothing color.