There’s more to fall plants than mums

Greg Stevens

Your garden can still look gorgeous even if Summer is over. Here are 6 flowers that will add some color to your garden this fall.

Fall is considered a great time for planting as soils remain warm, temperatures are cooling and weed pressure is less, says Dana Freeman of the Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties.

As you consider what tree, shrub or perennial to add to your landscape, she says, think about including one that blooms in August, September or October.

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“Fall-blooming plants not only add color and seasonal interest to yards, but also provide pollinators with a valuable nectar source late in the season,” she said. “There’s no reason for your yard to be drab this time of year, and there’s so much more than mums to choose from.”

Freeman offers these other varieties to try:

Seven-son flower, credit Scott Evans.jpg

The seven-son flower reigns supreme in September when clusters of seven small fragrant white flowers bloom. 

Seven-son flower: This small, low- maintenance flowering tree is usually available with multiple stems and grows to 15-20 feet tall with a 10-foot spread. The leaves are narrow and shiny green, and its tan exfoliating bark is attractive and extends interest into winter. It reigns supreme in September, however, when clusters of seven small fragrant white flowers bloom. The flowers are followed by small fruit and rosy-red calyces that make the shrub seem to flower twice. Plant this monarch magnet in full sun.

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'Blue Mist' bluebeard credit Dana Freeman.jpg

The Blue Mist bluebeard thrives in full sun.

Bluebeard: A low-mounded deciduous shrub in the mint family that typically grows 3×3 feet and is low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. Gray-green lance-shaped leaves are aromatic when brushed. A profusion of airy blue-violet blooms emerge August to September and draw bees and butterflies. Plant commonly found cultivars Blue Mist, Dark Knight or Beyond Midnight in full sun. The top growth is not reliably winter hardy in USDA Zone 5, and gardeners can prune back stems in early spring without affecting flowering.

Symphyotrichum spp. credit Dana Freeman.jpg

There’s many varieties of asters, which are loved by pollinators.

Asters: There are hundreds of types of these fall classics, which all have daisy-like flowers with center disk florets surrounded by ray florets. They are loved by pollinators. They can be generally separated into two groups based on their native environments and where they grow best in our gardens: those native to meadows and prairies that prefer full sun and those woodland types that will tolerate shade but flower best with morning sun. Asters can range in height from 8 inches to 6 feet and color (white, pink, red, blue, purple) and vary in resistance to mildew and rust. Consider the tatarian, white wood, heath, calico and aromatic varieties.

Solidago spp. credit Dana Freeman.jpg

Because they can become aggressive, choosing clump-forming varieties of goldenrod are best.

Goldenrods: This is another quintessential fall- blooming plant that attracts beneficial insects and is mostly native to North America. Often blamed for fall allergies when ragweed is the real culprit. All goldenrods have those recognizable yellow flowers arranged in a variety of ways, and there’s a goldenrod for every light and height requirement. Because they can become aggressive, choosing clump-forming varieties are best. Little Lemon is a great compact form at 1-foot tall with lemony yellow flowers in August. Wichita Mountains is an upright form that reaches 2.5 feet with tidy foliage and appears like a collection of golden torches in September and October.

Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' credit Dana Freeman.jpg

Hot Lips is a common cultivar of turtleheads and has deep pink flowers.

Pink turtlehead: An easy-to-grow, upright clump- forming perennial that reaches 2.5-feet tall by 1.5-feet wide. It has glossy dark green leaves that are ovate and toothed on erect, square stems. Terminal clusters of pink snapdragon-like flowers bloom August to October and can often be found with a bumblebee butt sticking out of them. This plant performs well in full sun to part shade but requires more consistent soil moisture in spots with afternoon sun. Hot Lips is a common cultivar and has deep pink flowers.

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