8 Favorite Plants for Fall
Lots of plants offer golden blooms or leaves in autumn, and they can make any garden glow. Here are eight of our favorites.
Helianthus angustifoliusFields 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’s 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.
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.
If you want a tree with yellow fall color, 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.
Aesculus parvifloraIf 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.
Mexican Mint Marigold
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.
Solidago sp.This native perennial doesn't cause hay fever. Its glorious yellow blooms announce fall's arrival. Combine our favorite goldenrod, 'Fireworks,' with purple asters.
Amsonia hubrichtiiForming clumps 3 feet tall and wide, this drought-tolerant perennial combines stunning fall foliage with blue spring flowers.
Salvia madrensisWinter 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.