Planning a colorful garden is relatively straightforward in the spring and summer, but the true beauties are the ones that have color and interest throughout the entirety of the growing season—even in the fall! While it may require a little bit more planning, there are plenty of beautiful fall-blooming perennials to choose from that will begin or continue to shine as your summer perennials and annuals start to fade.
Here we dive into some of our favorite late summer and fall-blooming perennials to help add color to your garden this autumn—some continuing right up until the first frost of the year hits!
1. Fall Swamp Sunflower
Just like its close relative, the more mainstream garden sunflower, swamp sunflowers bring a cheery, bright pop to the garden. As you may guess from their name, these fall-blooming perennials enjoy moist soil, making them a great choice for any particularly damp areas in your yard or garden. With that said, they do prefer to be planted in full sun. Native to the United States, swamp sunflowers attract pollinators like butterflies and caterpillars and produce deep green foliage adorned with masses of daisy-like yellow blooms.
2. ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod
If you’ve ever snubbed your nose at goldenrod for its invasive nature or less-than-desirable appearance, you may want to change your opinion after learning about ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod. This late summer and fall-blooming perennial is aptly named for shoots of golden yellow blooms that burst from its bush-like foliage when many other perennials are finishing up their bloom cycle for the year. It is another favorite among pollinators, is critter-resistant, and is relatively low-maintenance. Plant ‘Fireworks’ in full sun, and we promise you’ll change your tune about goldenrod before you know it! Trust us!
3. ‘Baby Joe’ Joe Pye Weed
Similar to swamp sunflowers, ‘Baby Joe’ is partial to moist, fertile soil but will not do well if planted in the shade. This fall-blooming perennial has a rather compact growth habit that produces tall plumes of pale pink to purple blooms around midsummer into the fall, which emerge from quite distinct, almost fuchsia flower buds.
A favorite among pollinators, asters are beautiful fall-blooming, daisy-like perennials. Their star-shaped flowers tend to start blooming in September, with colors varying from white to purple to blue. They are generally quite tough, easy-to-care-for perennials that are fairly shade-tolerant and enjoy moist, well-draining soil.
5. ‘Hot Lips’ Turtlehead
Turtleheads are a favorite in this category for a multitude of reasons. Their mounds of shiny, deep green foliage make a statement on their own early in the season. Then they grace our gardens with spikes of bright pink hooded flowers throughout late summer and into the fall. Adaptable as ever, turtleheads are fast-growing, fall-blooming perennials that reach approximately two feet tall in bloom and spread to about two feet wide.
6. Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ (Toad Lily)
If you’re looking for a late, late bloomer, Sinonome is your girl. This fall-blooming perennial produces showy, almost orchid-like flowers as late as October and November. It has a vase-like growth habit; its foliage adds interest to the garden in the earlier months of the growing season and is quite shade-tolerant. Sinonome is perfect in a cut garden, cottage garden, or woodland garden. Its beauty is undeniable.
7. Montauk or Nippon Daisy
Another popular cut flower, the Nippon daisy (also commonly referred to as the Montauk daisy), starts blooming in mid-summer and will continue right until the end of fall when the first frost hits. This herbaceous perennial enjoys full sun and well-draining soil, producing white petaled flowers atop shiny green foliage. It is drought tolerant and will have a bushier, more upright growth habit if cut back slightly in the spring.
8. Mexican Bush Sage
Arguably one of the more beautiful salvia varieties, Mexican Bush Sage will grace your garden with masses of spikes of purple blooms late in the growing season. This fall-blooming perennial produces traditional salvia-style flowers along unique silver-toned foliage. Mexican bush sage enjoys nutrient-rich, well-draining soil and full sun—and it’s particularly popular among hummingbirds. It is a relatively low-maintenance perennial that benefits from end-of-season pruning after all blooms are spent. You can plant Mexican bush sage at any point throughout the season, but early spring is ideal.
The leaves may be turning, and the summer blooms may be fading, but by adding some of these beauties to your garden, you’ll be happily enjoying color and interest well into the fall. Stop by Carolina Seasons to find these and other fall-blooming perennials in Greenville.
How to Plant & Care for Evergreen Shrubs
From Abelia to Wax Myrtle, there is a long list of evergreen shrubs that thrive in North Carolina and will lavish your yard with color and vibrancy all year long. Caring for evergreen shrubs is also simple, especially once they’re established. Here’s how to ensure your evergreen shrubs will live a long, healthy life.
When Should You Plant Evergreen Shrubs?
Planting at the right time is the first step in caring for your evergreen shrubs. In North Carolina, you can plant shrubs in the fall, late winter, and early spring, but the best time to plant is fall.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Planting Your Shrubs
Finish off your newly planted shrub with a layer of mulch about 3-4 inches thick. Not only is mulch aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also particularly good for plants that are establishing themselves in a new home. It keeps their roots cooler in summer and warmer in winter and it retains soil moisture.
Make sure your mulch layer is flat. If you create a volcano-like mound of mulch around your shrubs, it could cause them to rot and die.
Caring for Evergreen Shrubs
After you’ve planted your shrubs, it’s time to nurture them so that they successfully establish themselves in their new homes. The key? Consistent watering.
How Often You Should Water
Your shrubs could take as long as a year to get fully established, and during this time, they need to be watered frequently and regularly. For the first two weeks, very thirsty plants like Tea Olive and Wax Myrtle may need water every day or every other day. Boxwoods and Camellias don’t use as much water and may need less frequent watering. Watering once every two or three days may be enough for them. Later, you may be able to go longer between watering your new plants, but the frequency also depends on daytime temperatures and the porosity of the soil, so be sure to check the top of the root balls to make sure they are not drying out in between. Keep this up for the next few months. For example, if you planted them in the fall, keep this routine going all the way to spring. If it’s a dry spring, your frequent watering will need to continue.
Beware of Overwatering
It is possible to drown shrubs with too much water. So, keep a watchful eye on them for signs of overwatering. One such sign is leaf loss. It’s normal for newly planted shrubs to lose up to half their leaves because of the stress of being moved. However, if you give them the same amount of water consistently and they lose more than half their leaves, it’s likely because of overwatering, and you should ease off.
Wait until your shrubs are well-established before you begin fertilizing. Even after they’re established, they may not need fertilizer if they’re growing in high-quality soil or in a lawn that’s fertilized regularly.
That being said, fertilizer for recently established shrubs is proven to speed up their growth. The best fertilizer for such evergreen shrubs is the slow-release type. This type of fertilizer gradually releases nutrients. Select a slow-release fertilizer formulated for shrubs, and follow the instructions carefully. Better yet, have your soil tested. The NC Department of Agriculture Soil Lab will recommend the best type of fertilizer that fits your plants’ needs. We have the supplies needed to send samples to the lab and we will help you through the process at no cost. You can also pick up the required supplies at the Pitt County Ag Center.
Over 80 Varieties of Evergreen Shrubs at Carolina Seasons Nursery
Fall is the Perfect Time to Plant Shrubs and Trees
If you want to improve your landscaping with some trees or shrubs, now is the time to do it. Fall is one of the best seasons for adding trees and shrubs to your landscaping. The more moderate temperatures, more frequent rainfall, and less intense sunshine reduce the transplanting stress for your new trees and shrubs.
The other perks of fall planting are that your trees and shrubs don’t have to worry about producing fruit or leaves. Deciduous trees and shrubs can drop their leaves and focus their energy on developing a robust root system through the North Carolina fall and winter. Having strong roots come spring will set them up for developing healthy leaves, flowers, and fruit in the spring. Planting in the fall may also result in some trees and shrubs blooming in their first summer instead of waiting until the second summer.
Guidelines for Planting Trees and Shrubs in Fall
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly.
When you’re adding trees and shrubs to your yard, there are some standard guidelines to follow to help ensure your investments’ success.
Before your trees are delivered, or before you bring them home, figure out where you’re going to be planting. Ensure you have enough room for the full mature size of your chosen tree or shrub wherever you’re going to plant it. Double-check where any buried cables, pipes, or lines are on your property, so you don’t hit anything when digging.
You can also start to prepare your planting holes ahead of time. Planting holes should be as deep as the root ball or pot the tree or shrub is in and about three times as wide as the root ball.
You should plant your trees or shrubs as soon as you can after you bring them home or they are delivered. If possible, plant your trees in the late afternoon or early evening on an overcast day. This will also help to reduce stress and prevent excess evaporation from the roots.
Once your trees and shrubs are home, start getting them in the ground quickly. If you can’t plant them right away, store them somewhere in the shade, and keep them well-watered so that the roots don’t dry out.
When the planting holes are ready, remove your trees or shrubs from their pots or burlap, and center them in the hole. Before you start adding soil, lay a shovel or rake handle across the hole, over the root ball. The top of the root ball should be level or slightly higher than the top edge of the planting hole. If it’s not, remove the tree or shrub and add more soil underneath the root ball.
Center your tree or shrub in the hole, and have someone hold it straight or stake it while you backfill around the root ball. Fill halfway, and water it thoroughly so the soil can settle in around the roots. Once the water has soaked into the ground, finish filling the hole and then tamp the soil in well with your heels. Creating a berm of soil 2-3 inches tall around the tree’s root ball will help keep the water soaking in over the root ball when you water, instead of draining away.
Add a Blanket of Mulch
Once you’ve planted your trees and shrubs, you can add a nice thick layer of organic mulch—aim for a thickness of approximately 3-4 inches. Organic mulch has many benefits for your landscape, besides its clean and tidy look. It helps regulate soil moisture and temperature. It protects the roots of plants from extreme weather, and over time, it actually improves the soil. Just make sure you don’t build a mulch in a “volcano” shape around the trunk of your tree, as that will almost inevitably cause rot, which could kill your pretty new plant.
If you’ve been thinking of adding some trees and shrubs, there’s no better time than the fall! Stop by our garden center today and check out our diverse collection of nursery-grown trees and shrubs.
Carolina Seasons Nursery