As we get further through summer, many of our gardens can begin to look tired. Perennials that bloom in late spring and early summer are now spent and as we get into fall the garden can begin to look barren. Thankfully there are many varieties of perennials that can add some late season colour, and keep our gardens looking beautiful well into the fall!
Asters (Aster spp.)
Aster novi-belgii ‘Magic blue’
Asters are a great late season perennial plant. Their colourful flowers come in shades of white, pink and purple. Asters do best when located in a sunny spot. Once established they can withstand some drought, but regular watering will keep them at their best. Asters will start producing flowers in late summer and continue blooming until frost. These flowers are also a very popular plant for bees and butterflies. Asters can also be used in containers for fall colour, though if you would like to keep them as a perennial they should eventually be planted in the ground, or wintered in a sheltered location such as an unheated garage or shed.
Blackeyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida)
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’
Blackeyed susans have been a late summer favorite for ages. The common name ‘blackeyed susan’ can refer to several plants, most of which are members of the genus Rudbeckia. There are both annual and perennial varieties available, all of which will provide many golden yellow flowers with their characteristic dark brown centres throughout the late summer. Many of the annual varieties will reseed themselves, though this isn’t always as reliable as a truly perennial plant. The perennial form, Rudbeckia fulgida makes a fantastic, reliable perennial plant that will slowly spread in favorable conditions. Rudbeckias do well in a sunny location and look best with regular watering, though they can withstand drought once established.
Luna Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Luna’ series)
Hibiscus moscheutos Luna ‘Pink Swirl’
Luna Hibiscus are a very popular late season plant, and it’s easy to see why. These plants will produce extremely large, showy flowers from late summer until frost. They come in several colours, ranging from deep red, to pink and white, and some varieties have a deep red blotch at the base of each petal. They are easy to grow, enjoying a full sun position with well draining soil. Consistent moisture is key to success, especially in the first year to establish the roots. These plants should not be allowed to dry out entirely. After the first killing frost, you can cut these stems back to 3 or 4 inches above the ground. In the spring new stems will emerge, but don’t worry if you don’t see new growth early on, these plants are slow to wake up after winter.
Japanese Anemone (Anemone hupehensis)
Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’
Japanese anemones make a great, carefree perennial for the garden. They produce an abundance of showy, round flowers in the late summer and well into autumn. These flowers come in whites and pinks, with double varieties available as well. Bees also love these flowers! These plants are usually among the last flowers blooming in the garden and typically continue until a killing frost. They enjoy a part sun position, but can tolerate shade as well as full sun with adequate water. They are a reliable perennial, often forming clumps of increasing size each year. Some varieties can get a bit aggressive and take over a bed however, so be sure to read the plant tags before you buy.
Stone Crop (Sedum spp.)
Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliant’
The succulent leaves of Sedum plants make an attractive addition to a sunny garden. Not only that, but in late summer and well into fall stone crop sedums will bloom with dense clusters of pastel coloured flowers that are attractive to bees and butterflies. These plants are very easy and reliable perennials, forming clumps of tidy plants over time. They are easy to care for, enjoying a sunny site with good drainage. They should be watered regularly in the first year of planting to help them get established, once they are established they can tolerate dry conditions well.