Extend Summer Color with Perennials

After the dog days of summer, the landscape can begin to look a little peaked. Fall-blooming perennials are a great way to add a fresh splash of color that will extend garden blooms to the first frost and beyond. Plant fall-blooming plants among summer-blooming perennials and annuals for a seamless display of color that can start in early spring and last through November.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’

These garden mainstays flower reliably, year after year. Unlike annuals and biennials, which live for only a year or two, perennials are permanent plants that need only periodic division and replanting. This is about as low-maintenance as it gets! Some plants are semi-evergreen; others go dormant and die to the ground at the end of each season, and then reemerge from the roots the following year. Note that most perennials that bloom in the summer and fall require a full-sun location.

Here are some of my favorites for summer/fall color:

  • Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherry Brandy’. A type of Black-eyed Susan, these are large deep maroon-red flowers with a dark chocolate center. A sturdy plant to 24″ tall.  Full sun, does best with ample moisture.
  • Sedum spectabile ‘Brilliance’. Waxy, Soft blue-green rounded leaves and deep rose-red blooms. Full sun, drought tolerant.
  • Asters (many, many cultivars). Sturdy plants covered with small daisy-like flowers. An array of growth habits and colors to choose from. Full sun, drought tolerant.

Late summer is the best time to reevaluate how perennials are working in your garden. Choosing them carefully can maximize bloom season and refresh the garden. If you are not ready to add plants now, note which areas could use some attention — but realize that the selection will be best now, while the plants are blooming. They may be hard to find out of season.

This is also the time to look to broad-leaf and coniferous evergreens for color, texture and structure during the wintertime.

If you need more ideas, contact me for a design consultation and learn about the best plants for any spot in your garden.

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