Best Perennials for Fall
Garden Clippings for October 12, 2019
As if Mother Nature knows the first frost is around the corner, she gives an extra blast of colour at Thanksgiving. In my backyard perennial garden, the late summer Asters, Mums and Sedums are taking centre stage and are likely to continue blooming until snowflakes arrive.
Sedums are winners in my backyard because they are undemanding, grow in poor soil, love the hot sun and flower endlessly. Sedums are otherwise known as Stonecrop, presumably because they will grow in stone as well as in good topsoil.
In the fall garden Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ rises to the occasion. Through spring and early summer, ‘Autumn Joy’ produces succulent type leaves with the texture of cabbage. At the end of August masses of flower heads appear on the plant, beginning in pink, then slowly becoming more vibrant in colour. By Thanksgiving flowers are likely to fade to brown, but even as their colour is lost, there is no rush to cut off the blooms.
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ grows to about 18 inches high with equal width. The plant is well behaved in that it won’t spread and take up too much room. For a more compact version, look for the Proven Winner ‘Rock ‘N Grow series that grow to 12 inches of height and bloom in shades of pink, white, rose, and yellow. Also available is a variety with burgundy foliage which isn’t performing well in my backyard probably because the soil is too heavy.
The family of Sedums or Stonecrops is extensive with many blooming in mid summer. Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’, a favorite in rock gardens, has deep red foliage with pink or white flowers. ‘Goldmoss’ grows only a few inches high and has bright green leaves and yellow flowers. All Sedums grow in any soil but are particularly fond of hot, dry conditions.
Mums are the mainstay of the fall garden and are always used for fall decorating. For long lasting fall colour, plant Mums in spring and pinch the growing flower heads off until early July.
These days, Mums are grown by the thousands and are sold in September and October for folks to enjoy on the porch or patio. For best value, buy Mums just before the buds are about to open. if you want these perennial Mums to grow in the garden in future years, plant in September so they have time to make new roots before winter.
Fall Asters, like so many perennials, are available in an array of sizes and colours. All have long lasting daisy-like flowers. Fall flowering Asters grow to more than 24 inches high and are suited for the back of a perennial border.
Coral Bells bloom in June but are now grown more for their colourful foliage rather than their flower. My backyard Coral Bells seem to become more vibrant when days become shorter and night temperatures dip to the single digits. I put Coral Bells in the obedient category of perennials because they remain the same size for many years.