Perennials with Fall Color

Perennials with great fall foliage!

Take a fall color tour of your landscape or garden.  Do you find an area that lacks in late season interest or color.   I’m not just talking flowers, mums, sedums, and asters, are well known and amazing but there are a few perennials that tend to be overlooked each autumn.  These selections are spring and summer bloomers that really do double duty by showing off amazing fall foliage as our nights get longer. 

Hardy Cranesbill (Geraniums) like ‘Johnson’s Blue’, ‘Rozanne’, ‘Bevan’s Variety’ and ‘Biokovo’ bloom profusely in shades of pale pink, violet and blue all summer long above low spreading clumps of aromatic foliage.  Then, hardy geraniums turn up the heat for fall, their leaves become bright orange and red.

Hardy Cranesbill are tolerant of a wide range of soil types from heavier clay to sandy loam.  They do well in full sun to part shade.  Mature height and width will vary by variety. 

Red Leafed Mukdenia   Muk What?  Mukdenia is a unique perennial with some impressive attributes.  Shiny green, fan shaped leaves show off starry white flowers in spring and add lovely texture throughout the growing season.  As the season progresses a deep red begins to creep inward from the edges of the leaves which finally become a head turning fire red in fall.  Part shade, 8-12” Tall.

Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum Variegatum) – 2013 Perennial Plant Associations’ Plant of the Year

The arching stems of Variegated Solomon’s Seal support dangling white bell flowers underneath a ladder of bright green variegated leaves edged in white.  Graceful and elegant in the shade it makes a wonderful companion plant to hosta and ferns.  With fall Variegated Solomon’s Seal turns bright gold.  An excellent addition to the shaded perennial border or woodland garden.  Part to full shade, 18-24” Tall.

Blue Star (Amsonia)2011 Perennial Plant Association’s Plant of the Year

Blue star flower clusters bedazzle the stems of this hardy native in May and June.  Needle-like or willow shaped leaves line the stems and form compact clumps that turn a brilliant golden yellow in the fall.  Tolerant of wet soils but does not require it.  Deer resistant.  Easy to grow and low maintenance.  Full sun to part shade, Size varies by variety.

Pig Squeak (Bergenia)

Waxy, evergreen cabbage-like leaves have a unique leathery appearance.  An absolute favorite of mine for a tough groundcover.  In spring violet red flower clusters emerge on stocky red stems.   The waxy leaves (which do squeak like a pig when you rub them) turn reddish-bronze.  Absolutely stunning planted with Amsonia.

Will grow just about anywhere.  Full sun to full shade.  Deer and rabbit resistant but attractive to butterflies.

12-15” Tall

Bowman’s Root (Gillenia)

Lacy, star-like white flowers on maroon stems seem to flutter above clumps of low green foliage in summer.  This eastern and southern U.S. native produce a lovely airy effect that turns buff and then deep bronze in the fall.  The flowers are followed by unique seed heads that add winter interest.  Very easy to grow,  Full sun to part shade.  24-36” Tall

Thanks to Heidi Brosseau for this post!