12 Best Fall Perennials to Plant This Season

Psst: It’s prime planting time!

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12 Best Fall Perennials to Plant This Season
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Besides looking forward to all the joys of autumn such as colorful pumpkins and gourds and pretty leaves, fall is the time to give your garden one last bit of love! In fact, fall is prime planting time, especially for perennials, shrubs and trees. That’s because the temperatures have moderated and rainfall generally is more plentiful, so it’s not as stressful for new plants to get established. Not to mention, it’s way easier on you to plant on a cool autumn day than during the sweltering heat of summer! 

By now, your summer annuals are past their prime. But many perennials still are going strong in autumn. In fact, the most well-rounded and lush gardens have a combination of both perennials and annuals. Additionally, perennials are a great long-term investment to your garden because they return for many seasons. Just make sure to choose perennials that are suited to survive winters in your USDA Hardiness Zones (find yours here). 

If you’re super busy, the good news is that you can keep planting well into fall in most of the country, as long as your perennials have time to establish their roots before the ground freezes. That depends on where you live, but that’s typically late fall to early winter in most of the country. In warm climates, such as zones 9 and 10 where the ground generally doesn’t freeze, you can plant all the way until early spring.  

Read on to learn the best perennials to plant this fall for reliable color year after year.

1. Chrysanthemums

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight) 

These iconic fall flowers are technically perennials; however, they should be planted as early in the season as possible to ensure they get established for next year. Look for plants that are in tight bud, then plant ASAP and keep watered.

2. Asters

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 to 8 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

Asters are another fall fave because they bloom long after everything else in the garden has died back for the year. Many types flower well into November in some parts of the country. Pollinators love them, too!

3. Hellebore

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 5 to 8 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Part shade 

These exquisite perennials bloom in late winter or early spring, depending on where you live. They often flower when snow is still on the ground, around the time of Lent, which gives them their common name of Lenten rose.

4. Hyacinth

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

These fragrant spring-flowering bulbs must be planted in the fall to bloom the following spring. They are long-lived flowers, and rodents tend to leave them alone (unlike tulips, which they love to unearth and munch).

5. Coneflower

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

This cheery flower is available in every possible color from off-white to pale pink to bright orange. They’re great middle or back-of-the-border plants for perennial borders. Leave the seedheads intact over the winter, if you like, to feed the birds.

6. Heuchera

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun to part sun 

Heuchera, also called coral bells, is grown more for its stunning, brightly colored foliage, rather than its flowers. However, tiny spikes of flowers do attract hummingbirds in summer. Heuchera comes in every color imaginable from deep burgundy to chartreuse green.

7. Russian Sage

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

This is a handsome plant for late season color. With silvery-green, finely -textured leaves and spikes of purple flowers, Russian sage makes a lovely back-of-border plant. It’s also rabbit and deer-resistant.

8. Daffodil

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

For sheer joyfulness, nothing beats daffodils in the spring! Their yellow, bobbing heads are tiny bits of sunshine in the spring garden. Plant the bulbs in fall for spring flowers. They come back reliably for many years as long as you allow the foliage to die back naturally after the flowers fade so that the plant makes food for next year’s blooms.

9. Sedum

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 11
  • How Much Sun It needs: Full sun 

There are many different kinds of sedum, both low-growing and upright types. But the tall varieties, such as Autumn Joy, bloom in late summer and early fall, providing food for late-season pollinators. Once-established, they’re also drought-tolerant and deer resistant.

10. Catmint

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

If you only plant one perennial this fall, it should be catmint because it’s so reliable and sturdy! This spicy-scented, silvery-green perennial has tons of purple flower spikes for months on end. It’s a pollinator favorite, and deer tend to leave it alone.

11. Helenium

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 4 to 8 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Full sun 

Helenium has the cutest daisy-like flowers with prominent centers. They come in shades of yellow or bright orange, so they really pop in the landscape. Deer and rabbits tend to ignore these summer and early autumn bloomers. 

12. Astilbe

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9 
  • How Much Sun It Needs: Part shade 

Astilbe has lovely, feather flowers that come in pastel shades. They are a beautiful, unique-looking option in shady borders. They also make pretty cut flowers.

purewow author

Freelance Gardening Editor

Arricca Elin SanSone is a gardener with more than 15 years of experience. In addition to PureWow, she writes for Prevention, Country Living, Veranda, The Spruce and many other...

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