Fabulous Plants with Fall Flowers

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner


Fabulous Plants with Fall Flowers

Who says your garden can’t stay attractive as autumn approaches? Here are four easy-care annuals and perennials that keep blooming when others fade, including these long-lasting Rudbeckia hirta.

Photographed at my neighbor’s home, the colorful flowers self-seed themselves each year and bloom from summer to frost. These grow alongside a fence, with a climbing red rose arching over top. It’s one of my favorite stops along my daily dog walk, especially later in the season, when many other plants are dying back. Rudbeckias Rock: The cheerful flowers – also known as Black-Eyed-Susan – stand up to heat, humidity and drought. A member of the Asteraceae family, this annual (sometimes biennial or perennial) is native to much of North America. Butterflies and bees love the flowers, and songbirds eat the seed heads in cold weather. I’ve never seen pests or pathogen problems on my neighbor’s carefree plants. But to reduce the risks of fungal diseases and other problems in your garden, always leave room between plants for good airflow, avoid overhead watering (especially in humid climates) and remove diseased parts promptly.

rudbeckias in full bloom

Here are more rudbeckia growing in avid Idaho gardener/blog-writer Victoria William’s lovely cottage-style garden. To keep these flowers blooming like this into fall, she deadheads them religiously during the growing season. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Or direct seed outdoors after temperatures reach about 60 degrees.

I’ve been debating where to add some to my garden, and along with these colors, I’m intrigued with Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy.’ It’s the first-ever to grow red flowers from seed, and grows about two feet tall with large and luscious cherry-red flowers centered with chocolate. Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Purple Asters Delight late in the season in bloom.

Asters Delight: Late in the season – right around when the peppers and winter squashes are ready to harvest – the charming daisy-like asters appear in purple, white, red and pink, depending on the variety. My aster plant was given to me (without the variety name) during my Master Gardening training. The dormant perennial in the small plastic pot looked pathetic and dead at the time, but we were told to bring it back to life in the spring. Since that time, the little plant took off. A few years later, it grew into the beauty above, which has since been divided and shared with friends, as well as replanted throughout the garden.

Elderberry and Asters in the garden

Hardy in Zones 3 to 8, asters thrive in moist, well drained, loamy soil in full and partial sun. Beloved by butterflies, asters are a late-season pollen source for bees and other pollinators. In my garden, the charming flowers bloom around the time of the elderberries, a popular food source for many species of birds.

Calendula and Beergarten Sage in the garden.

Calendula Couldn’t be Cuter: This is a popular annual in my garden, especially when Calendula officinalis self-seeds alongside some hot-pink ‘Shirley’ poppies like it did this summer. The carefree calendula has edible flowers that I use in my Calendula-Orange Biscuits, salads and soups. The plant’s nickname is Pot Marigold, because the herb was used so often in the stew pot during the Middle Ages.

Calendula and Shirley Poppies in full bloom.

Early summer and fall are often the most prolific times for this plant, because calendula prefers cool temperatures. Here they are shown in front of‘Biergarten’ sage, where the plants get morning sun and late-afternoon shade.

I deadhead flowers throughout the summer with my Fiskars PowerGear® Bypass Pruner and they bloom throughout fall. Allow a few flowers to go to seed, so you have calendulas again year after year. Otherwise, sow seeds directly in early spring so they germinate in cool temperatures.

Blue Violas with Fiskars Softouch Cultivator

Versatile Violas: This cold-hearty beauty (Viola cornua) is often called a tender perennial or biennial, but tends to be grown as an annual. Thriving in spring and fall, the flowers look like pansies but are smaller in size. Best of all, they come in a rainbow of colors, from light blue and pale yellow to bold black. Plant these flowers in rich, well-amended moist soil with excellent drainage for best results. In hot climates, plant these flowers in morning light and afternoon shade.

Orange Violas in full bloom.

One of my favorite new hybrid varieties is ‘Sorbet,’ which comes in more than 30 colors including this delicious orange. These violas were bred to be both heat and cold resistant, so they have a long growing season. Wouldn’t a garden pot overflowing with these orange flowers – combined with ‘Sorbet Black Delight’ violas – look frighteningly pretty next to your pumpkins on the front porch?

Violas have edible flowers, but only eat flowers grown for edible purposes; started from seed; or from plants that self-seeded themselves. Garden centers often use systemic pesticides on flowers, which were not intended for human consumption.