Colorful Perennials for Late Summer and Fall

Looking to add some color to your late season landscape? We’ve got you covered! Here are some of our favorite perennials for extending color right into fall.

Minnesota Hardy Mums

Mums are a fall classic. Their bright color adds pizzazz to the landscape after many summer bloomers have faded. If you love mums, and want the color in your garden year after year, plant some Minnesota hardy mums! They pair beautifully with other fall bloomers and late season grasses.

For best success with mums, plant them as soon as they are available and keep them watered right up until the ground freezes. It’s best not to cut mums back in the fall, as the foliage protects and insulates the crown over winter. Remove dead foliage in spring with your other spring cleanup.

Yellow Mum


Sedum is another fantastic late season bloomer. ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum is one of our favorites for its excellent habit, reliability, and prolific blooms. Mounds of soft pink flowers look great atop the grey-green foliage. Sedum is an excellent choice for tough, dry sites, and thrives in the hot sun. If you have a spot where other plants have struggled, give sedum a try!

To achieve the fullest look, pinch sedum back by midsummer (aim to get it done by the 4th of July) to promote bushy, compact growth and more blooms. Other than pinching, sedum is about as low maintenance as it gets. Once established, it performs without any pampering, plays well with others, doesn’t have any significant pests, and rarely needs supplemental watering. A dream plant!

Autumn Joy Sedum
Autumn Joy Sedum in September


Fun fact: Though it is still sold as sedum and commonly referred to as sedum, stonecrops like ‘Autumn Joy’ have been reclassified as Hylotelephium herbstfreude. Don’t worry, we won’t test you on that.


The sleepers of the garden, asters patiently go unnoticed almost all season. But when it is their time to shine, the show is incredible! ‘Purple Dome’ is one of the most well-known, and for good reason. This beautiful selection is absolutely loaded with vibrant purple blooms late in the season and is an essential part of the fall garden.


Plant asters in the middle or back of the garden depending on how tall they’ll get. They can sometimes have “ugly knees” and display withered foliage on the lower parts of their stems. This is entirely normal and doesn’t affect blooming, but it does mean that a facer plant in front of asters can help to hide the unattractive foliage at the bottom. Asters do beautifully in full sun and appreciate loamy soil that is neither dry nor too wet. Like sedum, they can be pinched back by midsummer to encourage a fuller look.


If you’re looking for something a little bit more uncommon, consider Vernonia (also called ironweed for its sturdy stems). Vernonia is a delightful, colorful addition to the late season garden. This plant puts on quite a show in late summer with intense purple to magenta flowers atop lance shaped foliage.

Vernonia 'Southern Cross' Ironweed
‘Southern Cross’ Vernonia – Photo courtesy of Walters Gardens


Vernonia looks great combined with grasses and other late season bloomers, especially those with yellow flowers like black eyed Susans. This is a tall plant with great vertical form for the middle or back of the garden, and an excellent choice for pollinators. Vernonia is best grown in moist, well-drained soil and full sun, but can adapt to drier soils and light shade. It is typically not bothered by critters. Birds enjoy the seeds, but deadhead after bloom if self-seeding is not desired.

Stop in and have a look at our selection of late summer and fall perennials. We’re happy to help you find exactly what you need to keep the color going all the through the season!