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10 Favorite Perennials for Fall Color

Fall blooming perennials are a great way to add color and interest to your garden year after year. Many fall perennials are hardy, low-maintenance growers that start to bloom when most of summer's flowers are fading. They also serve as a great source of pollen for pollinators through the fall.

1. 'Baby Joe' Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium dubium 'Baby Joe')

Joe Pye Weed is a native plant that can make a beautiful backdrop border in your garden. This variety is half the height of others and will give you more options for planting in varied spaces. Dark green leaves adorn it, joined by bright purplish-pink blooms in late summer/early fall. Be sure to enjoy the light vanilla scent of the blooms!

Pros: Attracts butterflies & hummingbirds, tolerant of moist soil, compact size, good for cut flowers, winter interest, deer & rabbit resistant

Why We Love It: Joe Pye may be one of the absolute best nectar sources of all of the natives you can plant and is especially helpful for pollinators looking for food in late summer into fall, as there are less options at that time of year. Walking through our gardens this week, the Joe Pye was consistently covered with butterflies, bees and more! We like the Baby Joe because while it is shorter than its naturally occurring parent, it is still a substantial plant with many large blooms and plenty of nectar!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4-8

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun-part shade

  • Soil Needs: Normal, humus-y, moist, tolerant of sand/clay

  • Water: Average to wet, do not allow soil to dry out (at least not in first few months)

  • Care: Easy

  • Bloom Time: Mid summer-early fall

  • Height: 3-4 feet (yes, the shorter cultivar is still quite large!)

  • Spread: 1-3 feet

  • Native: Yes

2. White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

This plant is named for its weeks-long blooms, which are shaped like turtles' heads. Another great native plant that blooms into fall. Originally found in wet woodlands and along streams, Turtlehead is a great addition to a damp area in your garden or a rain garden!

Pros: Supports Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly and other pollinators including bumblebees and ruby-throated hummingbirds

Why We Love It: This is an especially fun native to find in nature - both the white and pink variations are relatively common along streams in WNC. Adding this to our water gardens and rain gardens provides really unique and lovely blooms as well as great ecological benefits, and it’s especially nice that it can handle part shade/dappled light and still bloom!

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3-8

  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining

  • Water: Wet, Medium-Wet

  • Care: Easy

  • Bloom Time: July-September

  • Height: 2-4 feet