Contrary to what you might think, fall is one of the best times to plant perennials.
Now, these plants are not going to look all bright and fancy like they do in the spring when you see them in the garden shop. No, their glory days have usually past (depending on what planting zone you live in) and they may not even look worth planting. However, don’t let their looks fool you, perennials are very happy to be planted in the fall and will bring forth a beautiful display when the warmer temps return.
The soil is often warmer in the fall than it is in the spring, this gives roots a good start. When you plant in the fall you can plan better, because you can still see what plants you have before they die back for the season. You can also find many perennials on sale this time of year which means you can often get double the beauty for the same price as you would pay in the spring. Planting in the fall can be especially nice in areas that are quite hot, even in early spring. Most of the time, seasonal rain and moisture will take care of the plants water needs, making your work less.
Here are five of our favorite perennials to plant now. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a super green thumb to get these guys in the ground. Just select the right spot in your landscape according to the plant’s need and provide a little water and even mulch, in colder areas and wait patiently for their spring debut.
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea ): This cheery plant may look delicate but is actually very hardy and will bloom profusely all summer long. Both butterflies and hummingbirds love this purple or lavender daisy-like flower that is highly forgivable and adaptable to a variety of soil types. Although there are a number of varieties, Echinacea purpurea is by far the most common and garden favorite. Most coneflowers do well anywhere in USDA zones 3 – 9 and may require some mulch in the cooler areas for winter protection. Coneflowers are drought tolerant but benefit from regular deadheading during the season. Plant in an area that gets at least 5 hours of sunlight.
Guara (G. lindheimeri): This low maintenance perennial is also known as a wandflower and is loaded with waving “wands” and dainty whitish/pink flowers that bloom all season long. These easy-to-grow plants reach about 15 inches to 4 feet in height and make a great tall border plant or even a focal point in a butterfly or cottage garden. Some new cultivars are even small enough to be grown in containers as patio accent plants. Hardy in USDA zones 5 -9, guara has a very long taproot so it is extremely important to choose your planting site wisely – it is hard to transplant this beauty. Place your plant in an area where it will get full sun or morning sun with light afternoon shade.
Lavender ( Lavandula): There are a number of different varieties of lavender, but all are a beautiful addition to any garden. This romantic and highly aromatic plant is at home in dry and rocky areas and likes warm, well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine. Lavender will grow well in USDA zones 5 and above but select your variety carefully for your location. Most lavender plants will appreciate a little organic compost mixed in with the planting soil and some mulch for over-wintering in cooler climates. You can even grow compact varieties in containers and bring them inside for the winter to enjoy.
Hosta (Hosta ): Sometimes referred to as the perfect perennial, hostas are one of the most popular plants in the United States, and with good reason. There are over 70 species of this beautiful plant which vary in leaf size, colors, shape and texture, growing between 6 inches to 8 feet depending on variety. Although most hostas are happiest in the shade, the lighter the foliage, the more sun they can take. Hostas like rich organic soil and can be grown in USDA planting zones 3- 9. Once established, hostas are very hardy and require only minimal attention. Once they reach maturity in about four years, you can divide and share.
Pineapple sage (salvia elegans): Salvia’s foliage smells like a ripe pineapple and has beautiful scarlet red flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies love. This semi-woody shrub can reach up to 4 feet tall and can tolerate drought conditions in USDA growing zones 3 – 8. Pineapple sage grows best in areas with morning sun and afternoon shade and will respond well if you give it some organic compost in the planting hole and a nice layer of mulch for winter protection.
Be sure to choose your plants from a reputable nursery and don’t let them sit in the pots too long before getting them into the ground. Happy planting!