8 Favorite Plants for Fall

Ginkgo
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Spring flowers get all the glory, but lots of plants offer golden blooms or leaves in autumn, and they can make any garden glow. Imagine the lure of nature's gold surrounding your home as the days turn brisk. This special warmth will boost your mood and brighten your days.

Between the variety in shrubs, trees, and herbs, there is a lot to choose from in shades of yellow, shape, and size of plant. There are choices in both perennials and annuals, so you can tailor your approach to your gardening preferences. Here are eight of our favorites in yellow fall colors.

01 of 08

Swamp Sunflower

Swamp Sunflower
Ralph Anderson

Helianthus angustifolius

Fields of sunshine may be the best way to describe the beautiful blooms of this prolific perennial. You will need to give this plant, one of the first flowers of fall, a bit of room. A single plant can grow up to 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Place it toward the back of your perennial or shrub border in a sunny location. It can take average soil that is moist. Selections such as 'Gold Lace' grow smaller, around 5 feet tall and wide. 'Mellow Yellow' offers pale yellow blossoms on a plant around 9 feet tall and 4 feet wide. An added bonus: Butterflies and birds love this plant.

Editor's tip: You can control the size by simply cutting it back by half in midsummer. It will then grow, set flowerbuds, and stay a more reasonable size when it blooms in your fall border. Swamp sunflowers grow in the Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South.

02 of 08

Senna

Senna
Ralph Anderson

Senna bicapsularis

Along the coasts of the Deep South, this large shrub explodes with bright yellow flowers in late fall. This showstopper's blooms will help you meet your neighbors. It grows around 10 feet tall and wide on the coast. It's not too particular about soil but prefers a sunny location. In the Coastal South and Tropical South it's an evergreen shrub. In the Lower South it dies back to the ground after a hard frost but returns the next season to bloom fine. Just cut the stems back to the ground after a hard frost.

03 of 08

Ginkgo

Ginkgo
Ralph Anderson

Ginkgo biloba

This tree does not yield yellow fall flowers, but ginkgo is guaranteed gold. The emerald green leaves suddenly turn a bright yellow as the days cool. Then they drop all at once, spreading a golden carpet on the ground. Though this tree grows slowly, it becomes more beautiful as it ages, so be patient. Place in a location with deep, loose, well-drained soil. It works best as a specimen tree in large yards. If you have a bit more room, plant several together to create a grove. Female trees produce foul-smelling fruit, so plant only named male selections. Good ones to use include 'Autumn Gold,' 'Princeton Sentry,' and 'Saratoga.' Ginkgoes grow in the Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South.

04 of 08

Bottlebrush Buckeye

Bottlebrush Buckeye
Ralph Anderson

Aesculus parviflora

If the early-summer spires of this beautiful native shrub don't reel you in, the fall color of its leaves will capture your heart. Use a single plant as a specimen, or plant several en masse for a bigger display. This is a large, mounding shrub that grows 12 to 15 feet tall and wide. It prefers moist, well-drained soil in a mostly sunny location with some protection from late-afternoon sun. Bottlebrush buckeye grows in the Upper, Middle, Lower, and Coastal South.

05 of 08

Mexican Mint Marigold

Mexican Mint Marigold
Ralph Anderson

Tagetes lucida

This herb is covered with masses of tiny yellow flowers late into the fall. It prefers full sun and works well in a perennial border or herb garden. Use it as a substitute for French tarragon, which does not like hot, humid Southern summers. Enjoy its licorice scent in the garden and in your kitchen creations. Use it as a perennial in the Middle, Lower, and Coastal South; treat it as an annual in the Upper South.

06 of 08

Goldenrod

Goldenrod
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Solidago

The Latin name for this plant means "to make whole." Native Americans often used goldenrod for medicinal purposes. Goldenrod is easy to grow in full sun and average, dry to medium, well-drained soil. It is a very forgiving plant and tolerates poor, dry soils, clay, and drought. The plant naturalizes quickly in the garden, and it may be advisable to divide it every two or three years to control its spread. This native perennial doesn't cause hay fever. Its glorious yellow fall flowers herald the season's arrival. Combine our favorite goldenrod, 'Fireworks,' with purple asters for a rich pop of color contrast in your garden.

07 of 08

Hubricht's Star

Hubricht's Star
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Amsonia hubrichtii

Forming clumps 3 feet tall and wide, this drought-tolerant perennial combines stunning fall foliage with blue spring flowers. These plants are billowy and finely textured, and add true variety to the feel of your garden. Its reputation is low maintenance, and it does not draw pests or insects. Hubricht's Star prefers full sun in moist, average or dry soil. It will be slow to grow when first planted, but is notorious for taking off in the second year.

08 of 08

Forsythia Sage

Forsythia Sage
Photo: Ralph Anderson

Salvia madrensis

Winter hardy in all but the Upper South, this surprising salvia grows 5 to 8 feet tall and wide. Spikes of butter-yellow blooms crown the stems in fall. It is semi-evergreen, and blooms in the fall and winter. We love this late bloomer and being able to look forward to the yellow against the bright green heart-shaped leaves. In frost free climates, this plant is known to hold its blooms all the way through spring. This bushy perennial attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

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