By Pat Curran, Horticulture Educator,
Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension
Question: I love mums, but I want a variety of flowers in the fall. What else can we grow?
Answer: Perennials for September include turtlehead (Chelone species) with pink or white flowers, toad lily (Tricyrtis species) with white, violet, or spotted flowers, hybrid Anemones with rose, pink, or white flowers, and Eupatorium species, our native Joe Pye weeds. Colchicum is a fall-blooming 'bulb' that blooms without its foliage; try growing it in the groundcover leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides), which has dark blue flowers at the same time that its foliage is starting to redden. A true autumn crocus is hardy for us (Crocus speciosus), as are two species of hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium and C. purpurascens) and a fall-blooming squill (Scilla scilloides). A wonderful edging plant with pinky-lavender balls set off by twisted bluish-gray foliage is a short ornamental onion, Allium senescens glaucum. Clematis terniflora, sweet autumn clematis, is a woody vine that can be safely grown up large trees for Sept. bloom. Caryopteris, bluemist shrub, is a small shrub easy to use with perennials that adds shades of violet to the September garden. Beautyberry, Callicarpa dichotoma, is a small shrub with amazing lavender berries in September.
Perennials for even later bloom (October) include dark bluish-purple monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelii), violet Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa', and Cimicifuga simplex 'White Pearl', a relative of our native black snakeroot.
We have a wonderful variety of native aster species, some blooming in September and others in October, in a variety of pink, crimson, blue, violet, purple, and white shades.
Finally, don't overlook several perennials that have lovely fall foliage color: the native bluestar, particularly Amsonia hubrichtii, turns a lovely gold, and several species of hardy geraniums turn a handsome russet-red.
Last updated January 29, 2021