Autumn Joy Sedum

Late Season Bloomers You Need

The end of summer can be a morose time for gardeners in Minnesota. Our short growing season flies by in the blink of an eye and many of our favorites are finishing their display. If you don’t have late season bloomers, looking around the garden can feel a bit, well, boring. 

Ok, enough negativity! Let’s talk about the wonderful plants that are just getting started as summer winds down. Incorporating these beauts into your landscape is sure to enliven a less than thrilling late summer garden.

Here’s a list of some of the fantastic late bloomers that you need in your garden:


Clethra In mid to late summer, this gorgeous shrub has numerous reddish or white spikey blooms that smell amazing and are a hit with a huge variety of pollinators.  Clethra can be slow to emerge in spring and might take a few years to really get going after planting (sleep, creep, leap, folks)- but it’s well worth the wait. This shrub appreciates regular moisture and can tolerate some shade.

Butterfly enjoying Clethra bloom

Buttonbush Handsome, glossy foliage turns shades of yellow, bronze, or burgundy in fall. Adorable button shaped flowers late in the season are adored by pollinators, provide seeds for birds, and are undeniably unique. This later bloomer is great for wildlife and native gardens as well as formal gardens. Excellent for moist areas and spots that take a while to dry out in spring.

Fiber Optic Buttonbush
Fiber Optics Buttonbush

Hydrangea You’ve probably never heard of this shrub (we kid), but it’s one of the showiest out there. Smooth hydrangeas (Hydrangea arborescens) are great for sun to part sun while panicle hydrangeas (H. paniculata) prefer sunnier sites for the best bloom. From mid-summer on, hydrangeas create a long-lasting display with huge flowers that provide interest well into fall as they turn a number of different shades and finally fade to light brown.   

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea

Perennials that are Late Season Bloomers

Asters These plants are sleepers in the garden. Piles of green bide their time until September and October when they turn into immense mounds of light blues, purples, and pinks. Compact and tall selections make it easy to find the right aster for any space. This classic late season bloomer is awesome for pollinators, too! 

Woods purple asters
Wood’s Purple Aster

Ironweed An amazing choice for late summer and early fall color, ironweed is incredibly showy in bloom. Another sleeper, the needle shaped foliage hangs out all summer quietly waiting to explode into purple and magenta shades late in the game. Butterflies and bees with thank you for planting it, too.

Sedum Who doesn’t love a nice juicy sedum? While some bloom earlier, there are many varieties that bloom later in the season. Beautiful mounds of color in shades from magenta to pink to white. Great for dry areas, hot and sunny spots, and borders. Sedum won’t disappoint unless you over water it. 

Sedum in bloom

Grasses Ornamental grasses positively glow in fall. Bluestems, switch grasses, and more put on amazing reds, burgundies, and yellows topped by fluffy or airy flowers and then seed heads. The interest remains well into fall and winter. Ornamental grasses are at home in any kind of garden and there are so many to choose from.

Northwind Switch Grass Fall Color
Northwind Switch Grass Fall Color