Fall Plants That Add Color to the Garden
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

Fall Plants That Add Color to the Garden

Plants that will add color to your garden without the plain old mums and flowering kale.

Most gardeners run out every September to buy some mums or flowering kale to put out on their front porch. A better, more economical, solution would be to plant some flowers that bloom later in the season or all season long. Remember that there are also numerous shrubs and grasses that add color with their foliage.

While it would be better to plant fall blooming plants earlier in the season so that can become established, but you can still select a few varieties and plant them in the fall. They will be better the following year.

Foliage Plants

Japanese Maple

These graceful trees work in typical landscapes as well as specialty gardens as they have smooth bark and green to red or burgundy leaves. There are more than 300 cultivars with many options it's easy to find a tree that works in your landscape. During the summer their form and color remain in the background with all of the flowers in bloom, but in the fall their color comes to the forefront as other plants are winding down.

Common Names: Japanese maple.

Botanical Name: Acer palmatum.

Hardiness: Zones 5 or 6 to 8, depending on cultivar.

Size: 15 to 25 feet high, 15 to 25 feet wide.

Flower/Foliage: Small red to purple flower clusters in late spring; deeply lobed leaves with five to 11 "fingers." Summer colors range from green to red and purples, with autumn hues of various reds and golds.

Light Needs: Prefers partial shade, but will tolerate full sun.

Growing: Plant balled or container-grown trees in late winter or early spring. This gives the trees a chance to establish themselves before the stress of summer's heat or winter's cold.

Waterfall is considered the best of the green form and tolerates the heat found in Zone 8. If you're looking for season-long color, try the reddish-purple leaves of Bloodgood.


Chokeberry makes a spectacular addition to any backyard, as autumn brings a brilliant show of red foliage.

Common Names: Chokeberry.

Botanical Name: Aronia.

Hardiness: Zones 4 to 9.

Bloom Time: Flowers in late spring, followed by fruit in autumn.

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall, 3 to 5 feet wide.

Foliage/Fruit: Glossy green leaves turn bright red in fall; red or black fruit.

Light Needs: Full sun to partial shade.

Growing: Pick a spot to plant with plenty of light and space (about 10 feet) to ensure an abundance of berries.

Prize Picks: Brilliantissima has red leaves in fall and the black chokeberry has dark purple berries and wine red foliage.

Burning Bush

A staple in landscapes in North America, this shrub is prized for its hardiness and brilliant fall foliage. It's one of the first shrubs to change color in autumn, when the dark-green leaves become blazing red. After the leaves drop, burning bush offers another season of interest. The stems have twisted and corky ridges that add intedrest when covered with snow.

Burning bush has a dense growth habit and is easily pruned for use as a hedge. It thrives almost anywhere, tolerating a wide range of soil types and light conditions.

Common Name: Burning bush, winged euonymus, winged spindle tree.

Botanical Name: Euonymus alatus.

Hardiness: Zones 4 to 8 or 9.

Bloom Time: Late spring, but the blooms are small and insignificant.

Foliage: Leaves are dark-green in spring and summer, and turn bright red in autumn.

Light needs: Full sun to light shade.

Growing: For shrub borders, space plants 4 to 6 feet apart. Remove any twine or burlap after plants are in place.

Indian grass

Indian grass will add stunning greens, golden bronzes and warm blues to your garden throughout the year with little work on your part in return. Its natural look lends itself as a transition from more formal spaces, though it looks great among wildflower gardens as well.

Common Names: Indian grass.

Botanical Name: Sorghastrum.

Hardiness: Zones 3 to 8.

Size: Up to 8 feet high and 2 feet wide.

Foliage: Blue-green leaves which turn purplish-blue in fall.

Flowers: Golden- or red-brown flowerheads.

Light Needs: Full sun.

Growing: Avoid wet soil in winter. Divide in mid-spring or early summer.

Fall Flowers



In shades of pink, purple, blue and white, these delicate daisy-like blossoms start popping open in late August and continue on until frost. Pinching in the early summer turns these Asters into mounds with dozens of flower buds. [p]Asters will tend to creep throughout your garden, but their airiness allows them to blend particularly well with other flowers. Zones 4 - 9

Caryopteris - Blue Mist Shrub

Caryopteris is a sub-shrub that is often grown in the perennial garden. Caryopteris slowly blossoms in August with dazzling blue flower clusters. Cut back in early spring and the gray-green foliage is attractive all season. Zones 5 – 9

Chelone - Turtlehead

Named for their blossoms shaped like turtles heads, Chelone is a fall blooming perennial whose only weakness is excessive dry heat. Chelone behaves itself, growing in a dense clump with attractive foliage and red, pink or white blooms. Zones 2 – 9


There are many varieties of mums, not all are very hardy. The plants sold in the fall as 'Hardy Mums' should be sold in the spring, to be truly hardy in the north. Get your potted mums in the ground ASAP and keep them well watered and mulch once the ground freezes and you'll stand your best chance of having truly hardy mums for next season. Zones 3 - 9

Eupatorium - Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye is one of those natives we take for granted because we see it by the side of the road, but it makes a wonderful backdrop to a garden border. The newer Eupatoriums have been bred shorter and less weedy but the dense mop heads of mauve flowers still blend in beautifully in the fall garden. Zones 2 - 9

Helenium - Sneezeweed

Helenium has been around for a long time, but is starting to make a comeback. The flowers look like small coneflowers in reds, yellows and oranges. Many helenium can grow quite tall and will need to be staked or pruned and like clematis, they like cool roots. Sneezeweed also works well in poorly drained areas. Zones 3 – 9

Helianthus - Perennial Sunflower

Helianthus has brilliant gold, daisy-like flowers that are a focal point and attract butterflies and birds. Helianthus can be reproduced by division. Zones 3 – 9

Heliopsis - False Sunflower

Heliopsis is very similar to Helianthus. Heliopsis tends to begin blooming earlier in the season and stays on at least 2 months longer. Newer varieties have been bred smaller and sturdier. Zones 3 – 9


Sedum 'Autumn Joy' looks good all year round, requires minimal attention and has few problems, but it is not deer resistant. Zones 3 - 9

Solidago – Goldenrod

Goldenrod, usually considered a weed, has gained acceptance with introductions like 'Fireworks' and 'Golden Fleece'. Unlike the native goldenrods that spread everywhere and had few blooms, the newer varieties are sturdy and loaded with fall blooms. Zones 3 - 9


Dahlias are very popular with thousands of cultivars to choose from with choices in color, flower shape and plant size.

Common Names: Dahlia.

Botanical Name: Dahlia.

Hardiness: Zones 8 to 11.

Bloom Time: Midsummer to first frost.

Size: 2 to 8 feet high, 1 to 3 feet wide.

Flowers: Every color but blue and green; shape varies from double to pompon to daisy-like shapes.

Light needs: Full sun.

Growing: Plant tuberous roots in spring after last frost, placing them 4 inches deep with "eye" pointing up. Stake taller varieties.

Locate Fall foliage in your region by searching the Forestry Service website at http://www.fs.fed.us/news/fallcolors/  

This year leave the cabbage and the mums at the garden center.

Additional resources:

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
in Gardening on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Gardening?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (5)

Great job, very informative

interesting article. thanks for the information.

brilliant!,it will be helpful for everyone

These colorful beauties and your nice educational presentation are much appreciated.

winged euonymous is an invasive.  It cannot be sold in New Hampshire.  It is profligate, takes over, and does not provide any food for birds.  It is not generally recommended any more.