20 Best Perennials to Plant in Fall

20 Best Perennials to Plant in Fall

While some beginner gardeners might think that the fall season means the end of planting, the truth is, it’s only the start of a cooler, easier-to-garden-in season. Fall is the perfect time to plant your winter crop of vegetables, to fill in spots in your garden you noticed all summer long and to plant new perennial plants in your garden and get your favorite flowering shrubs.

6 Benefits of Planting in Fall

There are plenty of benefits for planting in the fall for gardeners in any zone, whether your garden is filled with flowers or vegetables. 

1. Enjoy Better Temperatures

This one might seem obvious, but it’s more than just being more comfortable and sweat-free to dig a hole in fall weather. Plants like it, too. Summer can cause a lot of heat stress, and this can wear on plants that aren’t established. With the cooler temperatures, plants are happier. 

2. Celebrate Easier Weeding

In the spring and summer, your garden may be prone to frequent weeding, but the fall season typically slows down the growth of those pesky invaders. This makes it easier to maintain your garden beds and ensure that the nutrients in your soil are going to your plants. 

3. Make Fun Plans 

If you lost a few plants to pests or bad weather, it’s fun to go out into your yard and take a look at the spots you need to fill in. Maybe you realize that something isn’t working in a spot you initially assigned it, or maybe you see a place in your garden that would be perfect for new flowering shrubs. Either way, fall can give you a new perspective and help you grow your garden. 

4. Enjoy Less Bugs 

Bugs are the bane of any gardener and your plants, too. Typically, in fall, the bugs start to lessen, making it easier to be outside. Now, you don’t have to use bug spray just to trim deadheads, fertilize roses and, of course, plant your new fall perennials.

garden with stone walkway

5. Make Digging Easier

If you’re planting in the spring, you know getting the shovel in the dirt the first time can be tricky. The soil is cold and hard-packed from winter. Soil that has been warmed all summer is much easier to dig in, making planting fun again.

6. Support Local Wildlife 

There are some things you don’t want in your garden (rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels), but there are plenty of creatures you do, like butterflies, birds and bees. Planting shrubs and perennials can help give them the food they need to support their populations.

Of course, the biggest benefit of planting in the fall is that you get to keep doing what you love: gardening. With so many benefits, it’s time to start talking about the plants we think you should add to your garden. 

20 Must-Have Fall Perennials to Plant

The list of fall plants and shrubs could be endless because there are so many amazing options to choose from. Perennials love the fall soil and cooler temperatures, ensuring they’re established and able to grow for the remainder of the gardening season. This means even in spring you’ll be able to start seeing the benefits of your fall planting. Here are a few perennials we recommend you get in the ground this season. 

Plant Our Favorite Flowering Shrubs

1. Hydrangeas

From curb appeal to flawless foundation planting, there isn’t much hydrangeas can’t do for your garden. More and more, unique colors appear with different hydrangea cultivars, so you have plenty of options. Need a fiery backdrop planting? Choose a red hydrangea that will light up its space. Prefer the classic look of a white, globe-like flower on a hydrangea? There are hydrangeas for that, too. 

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2. Butterfly Bushes

These gorgeous, leafy wonders are a favorite of gardeners and the butterflies they’re named after. They grow long plumes. They’re also favorites of hummingbirds and bees, so if you love pollinators in your garden (and who doesn’t?), be sure to add butterfly bushes this fall. 

butterfly bush fall perennial

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3. Caryopteris

Another favorite of pollinators, caryopteris grows long slender flowerheads that continue to bloom through fall. While northern gardeners will find caryopteris prefers plenty of sunshine, southern gardeners can get away with planting this beautiful flowering shrub in partial shade. 

Whether you’re looking for a big spot of color in your garden — they tend to grow two to four feet wide — or growing a long hedge, caryopteris can be a great option for you.

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4. Weigela

While some types of weigela only bloom a couple of weeks out of the year, there are other types of weigela that bloom from early spring through fall. This stunning bloomer fills with color and can be used for anything from foundation planting to a hedge, due to its penchant for growing up to five feet wide and tall. Weigela love sun and well-drained soil, and as long as they have that, they’re one of the most low-maintenance shrubs you can plant.

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5. Azaleas

Azaleas come in all different shapes, sizes and colors and, best of all, they prefer shade as opposed to full sun, making them a great option for the cooler parts of your yard. They do prefer warmer climates, but at the right spot in the garden, you can typically find a variety of azalea that will do well in most zones.

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6. Rhododendrons

Many people think that azaleas and rhododendrons are the same thing. It’s true that all azaleas are part of the rhododendron family, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas. Rhododendrons tend to be bigger than azaleas, but their flowers and colors are just as beautiful. Rhododendrons are excellent options for fall plantings, and once they are established, they will produce gorgeous flowers in spring.

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7. Dogwoods

Dogwoods are one of those shrubs that are just happy to be in your garden. They don’t require much work because you really only prune them if you want them to have a specific shape or are looking to enhance their winter colors. Otherwise, put them in the ground and leave them to grow. There are many different types of dogwood to choose from, but some of the most beautiful dogwoods have colorful twigs that pop against the browns and whites of the winter season.

dogwood fall perennial

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8. Sambucus

Do you love Japanese maples but have a hard time growing them in your zone? Sambucus (also called Elderberry) is nicknamed “Japanese Maple of the North” for a reason. The feathery foliage combined with a lacy bloom make them a great option for northern zones. While they can get quite large — between 10-15 feet in height and width — there are plenty of smaller varieties you can add to most places in your garden. 

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9. Forsythia

This shrub comes in a variety of sizes and colors, and they are all showstoppers. But the best part of forsythia is that it’s a plant powerhouse that can grow pretty much anywhere — even next to black walnut trees where soil is unfriendly. They tolerate dry soil, clay soil, wet soil, you name it. Once they are established, forsythia will shine in your garden. 

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10. Roses

Yes, you can plant roses in the fall! Roses can sometimes have a bad reputation for being finicky, but they’ve evolved so much over the years to be resistant to disease, bugs and more. Plus, planting roses in the fall is great for all the benefits we listed above, giving your rose the best start to being established before winter. 

Plant your rose with a bit of fertilizer (and fertilize any other roses you have, too) and it will do the rest so that next season, you can enjoy the beautiful blooms. 

Most of the flowering shrubs we listed above are also great for cut flower arrangements. Simply snip the parts of the plants you want to add to a vase and place them in water. It’s a great way to enjoy the beauty of your garden indoors. 

Grow Gorgeous Flowering Shrubs in Your Garden

Fall In Love With These Perennials

home with flowering bushes in yard

1. Phlox

With gorgeous clusters of blooms that come in a variety of colors, this perennial is a must-have for the garden. Different phlox varieties grow to different heights, so always make sure to check the details of the phlox you’re purchasing to make sure it’s right for your space. Then, once they’re in the ground, just let them grow. They love full sun or just a little bit of shade and moist soil and, best of all, they will bring hummingbirds and bees to your garden. 

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2. Astilbe

Sun-loving plants get a lot of attention, but let’s give astilbe its due for being a stunning shade-tolerant flowering perennial. Astilbe comes in a variety of different foliage and flower types that range from smoky variegated leaves to massive plumes of pink, white and red flowers. Astilbe is the perfect addition to your shade garden, and it tends to do well in most soils. 

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3. Anemone

Anemone are great options if you have a small or even urban garden and want a plant that will give you a big impact. Anemone have beautiful flowers that grow on a single stem from a mound of pretty leaves. They come in all different colors, so you can choose the best color for your garden. 

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4. Daylilies

Whether you buy your favorite color of daylily from a nursery or get a clump of daylilies from a gardening friend, daylilies are one of the easiest perennials to grow in a garden. They typically do well in most soils and provide plenty of color when they bloom. Many daylilies will bloom all season long, too. 

daylily fall perennial

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5. Ornamental grasses

Most perennial ornamental grass does well in any sunny spot in the garden, and there are some types that can handle partial shade, too. Grasses are a great way to fill an area, and many types will have wispy plumes of seeds that sway gently in the breeze. Some gardeners also like to use grasses in their large container gardens, too.

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6. St. John’s Wort 

Depending on the type, St. John’s Wort can be used as ground cover or as a full-blown shrub. The different varieties can have gorgeous, colorful foliage that will appeal to your eye and the eyes of your garden’s pollinators. As an added benefit, wildlife like rabbits and deer hate St. John’s Wort, so if something in your garden has been eaten, you can put St. John’s Wort in its place and they’ll leave it alone.

7. Helleborus

Otherwise known as the Christmas or Lenten Rose, Helleborus grow great in a garden with partial shade. They also are typically evergreen, meaning you can enjoy their blooms during the warmer months and their beautiful foliage over the cooler months. 

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8. Lamium

This groundcover is deer-resistant and does well anywhere from full sun to partial shade. Because it’s a groundcover, it will spread to fill its space, but it’s not overly invasive. As long as you keep on top of it each year, you’ll guarantee it stays just where you want it. Lamium has a variety of different types with beautiful variegated foliage and delicate, bell-shaped flowers. 

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9. Sedum

Sedum is a succulent that loves sun and grows all different sizes. Whether you’re looking for a taller variety to take up a spot in the garden or a groundcover that flourishes between flagstone, sedum can suit your needs. Plus, sedum is heat- and drought-resistant, and deer and rabbits hate it — so it’s about the most low-maintenance perennial you can find.

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10. Coreopsis

Most people know the bright yellow variety of coreopsis, but they also come in pinks, whites, maroons, reds and more. Coreopsis can grow from two to four feet tall depending on the variety, and they bloom all season long starting in the summer. They like sun, so make sure to find a bright spot in the garden and then just leave them to grow. 

coreopsis fall perennial

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You can find the perfect height, color and variety of flowers that won’t need anything more than a spot of fertilizer and regular watering before they’re established for the end of the season. With so many options of perennials for fall, you’ll fill your garden with gorgeous blooms to enjoy for years to come.

Grow All Your Favorite Perennial Plants  

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