Skip to Content

12 Fall Flowering Perennials to Brighten Up The Autumn Backyard

There is just something about fall.

The early morning mist diffusing the late-rising sun. The woodsy freshly damp aroma of falling leaves.

The colors are richer. Their hues are warmer. But wait. Where have all the flowers gone?

Not to paint all gardeners with the same brush, but we do, collectively tend to plant spring and summer-blooming flowers.

Keep the Inspiration Growing

Fall can be a bit overwhelming for gardeners, with cleanup, providing winter protection, and processing the harvest. Plus, there are a whole host of new perennial plants to get in the ground in fall.

Growing fall-blooming perennials that reliably bloom year after year will re-ignite our autumnal gardening inspiration.

Celebrate Late Bloomers

A self-proclaimed late bloomer myself, there are so many wonderful late-season blooming perennials that deserve prime garden spots to accentuate this cozy, warm-beverage sipping season.

While well-loved annuals provide their best show of the year, and deciduous trees and shrubs display their colorful fall-season glory, those spring and summer bloomers might be a little worse for wear.

But, when spring and summer bloomers are interplanted with rich, warm shades of fall-blooming perennials, they’ll outshine the tired, tattered foliage of earlier bloomers that have completed their beauty duty.

Take Note of What Is Blooming in Fall

In the wild, there are still many blooming flowers. The asters and goldenrod are still abuzz with slow-moving late-season bees getting in their final feast that will see them through winter.

Take a look around your neighborhood. Is it drab and just begging for some extra color? Or, are there some gorgeous perennial flowers still blooming? Take note and find out what they are.

Crave Drama? Take on a Double Feature

Some perennials may put on a spring-time matinee and surprise you with a late show too. Spring and fall-blooming clematis come to mind.

Echinacea, rudbeckia, gaillardia, pincushion flower, and salvia may put on a double feature. Try harvesting or cutting plants back in midsummer to encourage prolific fall blossoms.

Also, some perennials will extend their blooming season with deadheading. An opportunity not to be missed.

The gorgeous and variable dahlia is just one example of summer blooming bulbs that are planted in spring and continue to produce abundant, intricate flowers through to hard frost.

12 Fall Flowering Perennials

1. Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus)

Nothing lifts the end-of-season blues like bright sunny perennial sunflowers dancing in the freshly chilled autumn air.

Shorter than annual sunflowers with smaller, more prolific blooms, there are multiple size, care, and bloom choices available in fall-blooming perennial sunflowers that bloom year after year.

In general, they thrive in zones 4 to 9 in full sun. Their bright orange and yellow blossoms feed and nurture hummingbirds and butterflies through the fall.

Related Reading: 7 Perennial Sunflowers That Bloom Year After Year

2. Stonecrop (Sedum)

The luxurious star-shaped blossoms of each widely diverse species of stonecrops are a surprising gift on these extremely low-maintenance, drought-tolerant succulent perennials.

Ranging in size from ground-hugging 2-inch-tall plants to upright 3-foot sturdy fall-blooming bee and butterfly magnets, the uses of stonecrop are legendary, thriving in zones 3 to 10.

Stonecrop is the perfect plant for attracting butterflies, feeding migratory birds through autumn, while making gorgeous cut flowers for drying.

3. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

A dynamic stoic plant that shines more brilliant in blue and lavender shades as the season progresses.

The tall spikes are smothered in small blooms which are more prolific with pruning in late winter and early spring.

Once established, Russian sage is drought tolerant, thriving in full sun in zones 5 to 9.

4. Oriental Lily (Lilium orientalis)

Of the summer and fall blooming bulbs to plant in spring, Oriental Lily outperforms and out impresses with its giant star-shaped fragrant blooms.

In full sun, strategically planted lilies can provide a literal succession of parading gorgeous lily flowers right up until the hardest frost of fall.

Hardy in zones 5 to 9, Oriental lilies have an impressive range of colors with warm, dark tones of oranges, reds, and purples available in lilies that bloom in even late fall.

5. Helenium (Helenium)

This gorgeous plant provides vibrant warm autumn color in this bushy 3 to 4 foot perennial with masses of echinacea-like blossoms in fall.

Helenium thrives in full sun with rich soil but favors cool soil and tolerates clay, so adding organic matter and mulching is recommended for this late bloomer.

Native to North, Central, and South America, Helenium species thrive in zones 3 to 8.

6. Aster (Aster)

The rockstar of the fall-blooming garden, asters come in all shapes and sizes, from 1 to 4 feet tall.

For compact, bushy plants, many aster varieties can be pinched back in early summer, while thriving in full sun to part shade in zones 3 to 8.

Loved by late visiting birds, bees, and butterflies, asters provide food and nectar with their blue, purple, pink, and white daisy- and double-daisy-like flowers.

7. Mums (Chrysanthemum)

A hobby in its own right, growing fall-blooming mums is an art form perfected creating a huge variety of blooms size, density, and colors ranging from gold, bronze, rust, burgundy, pink, yellow, and purple.

Hardy mums survive in zones 3 to 9 and are different from florists mums so be sure to check the variety.

Growing from 4 to 36 inches tall, mums will form their gorgeous masses of blossoms with a couple of trimmings throughout the early part of the summer.

8. Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

The perfect backdrop, Joe Pye Weed grows into sturdy erect clumps up to 8 feet tall, which are toped in large mauve flower clusters in fall.

The entertainment abounds with all the visiting beneficials, pollinators, birds, and butterflies who visit this fragrant vanilla-scented durable plant in the fall.

Joe Pye Weed is a native plant that loves moist rich soils in full sun to part shade in zones 4 to 9.

9. Goldenrod (Solidago)

With over 100 varieties, goldenrod is often the last flower standing in fall, making it one of the last food sources for nectar-seeking bees and butterflies.

Goldenrod typically forms tall plumes of golden yellow. They come in a variety of sizes from 2-foot cultivars to 8-foot-tall native plants. They are found in zones 3 to 9.

Thriving in full sun in average soil, goldenrod is an easy-to-grow North American native with many tamed varieties for the cultured home garden.

Ornamental Grasses

Fall is the time ornamental grasses really strut their stuff.

Interesting seed heads dance and wave as the leaves fall in the seasonal winds.

Many ornamental grasses will help develop the fall-blooming landscape, but here are a few suggestions.

10. Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum)

The changing foliage and colored seed heads of switchgrass persist through fall on these drought-tolerant, native grasses.

11. Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis)

An excellent autumn accent plant or plant for the back of borders, feather reed grasses hold their own, persisting into winter providing even more interest.

12. Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens)

Blue oat grass is drought tolerant and easy to care for in zones 4 to 9. The tidy, clump-forming blue mounding grass sends up brown terminal panicles for extra attraction in fall.

Final Thoughts

Fall-blooming perennials that bloom year after year will help to ignite and inspire the enjoyment of the delights of autumn.