Late summer, early fall bloomers

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Fall is a great time to plant perennials, and late summer and early fall bloomers are the popular plants now. Sedum and Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan) are workhorses in the garden and really stand out this time of year. Groundcovers are also important additions for the late summer garden.


Sedum are the perfect, easy-care addition for late summer blooms. But they are also chunky, adding architectural and structural interest. With their thick leaves that are succulent-like in appearance and texture, sedum are interesting in the garden even before they bloom. But the blooms are spectacular, especially in mass planting. The bees and butterflies will enjoy the blooms, too!

These plants do not like too much water, so they can be basically left alone (except during severe drought). Sedum prefer well-drained soil and full sun. They will stretch and flop if planted in too much shade and rot if planted in moist conditions.

A few of the most popular, upright sedum are Autumn Fire, Autumn Joy, and Neon. But if stunning foliage color is a must-have, check out Purple Emperor or Xenox. With eye-catching, deep purple/maroon foliage, the flower is just a bonus!

If groundcover sedum is desired, try Lime Zinger. Tight, circular petals are rimmed by a pretty pink tinge. The rounded, mounding habit of this sedum adds a sweet touch to any style of garden.

Black-eyed Susan (rudbeckia). Photo by Lukas Riebling, Wikimedia Commons


Rudbeckia are easy to grow and get along with. Goldsturm is the standard, and for good reason. This prolific bloomer shows color from mid-summer through fall and is an excellent choice for mass planting in borders or scattered throughout a meadow or prairie style garden. A favorite of butterflies, try pairing Black Eyed Susan with coneflowers (also a butterfly favorite), Karl Foerster grass, daylilies, liatris and sedum.

Rudbeckia prefers full sun and moderate moisture but can tolerate dry conditions. This hard-working, zone 3 hardy plant is deer resistant, a butterfly and bee attractant, disease resistant, and beautiful in cut flower arrangements.


Allegheny Spurge by Tonkadale Greenhouse

Photo by University of Illinois Extension.

Fall is a great time to plant groundcovers, and a great fall garden plant to grow. All perennials that are going to show up (even the late sleepers) have already poked their heads out and have grown big enough to see how much area they cover, taking the guesswork out of where to plant those groundcovers.

Groundcovers are also important plants in the fall garden. Many flowers have finished blooming or are starting to fade. When it comes time to cut back or leave flower stalks for winter interest, it is the groundcovers that will remain green and lush.

For shady gardens, consider sweet woodruff, lamium (Dead Nettle), and pachysandra which creates a lush, green carpet. For sunny areas, try sedum, creeping thyme, or iberis (candytuft). Have both sun and shade? Vinca vine can handle either, and ajuga is happy with sun to part-shade.

When planning and planting for late-summer and fall interest, other late bloomers include hardy mums, asters, helenium, chelone (turtlehead), and Japanese anemone. For late season foliage interest, plant heuchera, astilbe color flash, and bergenia (whose foliage turns a beautiful red hue in fall).

Happy fall planting!

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