Summer’s definitely over. Why, hello there Autumn!
It’s that time of the year again where we get shorter days and longer nights. We’re starting to feel the cold air brushing our faces as winter is fast approaching. While some gardens will look bleak and lifeless, you don’t have to face the same dilemma.
The fact of the matter is, this is the perfect time to plant bedding plants to prepare them for the winter season. It’s all a matter of choosing the right plants, preparing your garden soil and where you plant them. A couple of good places to plant them are in borders, beds, containers, window boxes or even hanging baskets.
Choosing the right plants can be tricky though, but that’s precisely why I’ve compiled this list of the best plants for your autumn garden.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’)
The beautyberry is a medium-sized deciduous shrub which is one of the best ornamental fruiting shrubs. It even won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society). You just can’t help but love its clusters of berries during mid-autumn that adds a vibrant colour to a landscape.
The purple fruits grow abundant in early fall and can last through early winter. They’re so easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. Soil type is not even an issue with these shrubs as they are relatively adaptable.
Tip: Plant them in groups to get the best fruit production (better cross-pollination). Don’t forget, the berries aren’t edible!
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum)
If a burst of colour is what you’re looking for, the Autumn Crocus is up for the task. Also known as ‘naked ladies,’ large blooms of big flowers suddenly appear without any leaves. Flowers in shades of purple and white in September and October will surely mesmerize you.
All parts of this plant are poisonous, but don’t worry, these poisons are only enough to make sure that critters wouldn’t dare eat them. As far as putting them in your garden is concerned, they’re absolutely safe to people.
Tip: Best to be planted in late summer to bloom the same year during fall.
Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’)
The Japanese maple can grow up to 15-25 feet tall. It’s bright green leaves magically transform to orange-scarlett during summer, and then to crimson-red in fall. The foliage can hold its colour for a few more weeks before they start to fall off.
And it even gets better after all of its leaves fall off. What remains are attractive outlines of the bark and twigs which can give any winter landscape a touch of interest. If you’re looking for the best Acer for autumn colour, this shrub is a clear winner.
Tip: This plant needs little to no pruning at all. If it’s really necessary, do it during the dormant season.
Glossy Abelia (Abelia x Grandiflora ‘Kaleidoscope’)
If you have limited space in your garden, the Glossy Abelia will be a perfect fit. It’s a compact shrub and is considered to be the longest blooming among all Abelias. In general, it is resistant to pests and diseases, so you can be sure that it will last you a very long time.
This plant is an all-rounder because it changes colours over the seasons. It’s bright yellow and lime-green during spring, turns golden yellow in summer, and takes on glowing orange and fiery red shades in fall.
Tip: During the cold season, it’s best to keep it in a sheltered location to prevent damage from frost.
Aster (Symphyotrichum ‘Little Carlow’)
Asters are part of the daisy family, and most of them bloom in late summer and autumn. They’re more commonly known as Michaelmas daisy and boasts one of the best producers of light purple flowers.
They may suffer from powdery mildews and grey moulds, but are generally pest-free. Asters might require staking since they grow with a bushy habit. As far as placement, it’s ideal to grow them in the middle of herbaceous borders.
Tip: If you want to attract birds or butterflies, asters are a must because they’re an excellent source of nectars.
Redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’)
Forest Pansy is somewhat in the middle between a shrub and a tree. It can grow up to 20-30 feet tall and is known for its purple, heart-shaped leaves with pointed tips. As autumn begins, the foliage transforms to yellow before they fall.
It blends well with plants of lime-green foliage and is best situated at the back of a border or against a wall. While it’s generally pest-free, you have to keep an eye on canker, verticillium wilt, leaf spots, and blights.
Tip: It should be planted when still young as it doesn’t transplant well.
Blue Lily Turf (Liriope muscari)
Extremely popular as ground cover plants, the Blue Lily Turf is well-known for its versatility. It looks nice in your garden with its bright purple shade during autumn. And what about winter? The blooms give way to black berries which often last until winter.
The Liriope muscari is a lovely edging plant and is best placed along walkways and pathways. Since they only grow up to 12 to 18” tall, setting them under trees is also a good idea.
Tip: Watch out for slugs and snails. They may also be prone to leaf and crown rotting.
Monkshood ‘Arendsii’ (Aconitum carmichaelii)
Monkshood is considered to be old-fashioned perennials which are best suited for large border plantings. The shape of the flowers look like that of monks, hence the name. In autumn, they carry elegant spires of vibrant blue flowers.
It’s highly advisable that they are away from trees especially in the summer so they will not dry out.
Tip: This plant is highly toxic so avoid planting them in areas where children usually wander.
Argentinian vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
Also known as Tall Verbena, these plants are best paired with regular moisture, but well-draining soil. It can grow up to 6 feet in height but remains airy enough to let you see other plants behind it. The flowers are small and are formed in clusters.
They start blooming in summer and can continue until winter. This plant is also self seeding, so won’t need any help in spreading amongst your flower beds.
Tip: This plant is self-sustaining, so it doesn’t need as much attention as others. If anything, you may consider shearing the plants back once or twice a season.
Dahlia (‘David Howard’)
Last on our list is a winner of multiple awards both from the Royal Horticultural Society as well as the American Dahlia Society.
And why not? Its vibrant apricot-orange flowers are sure to make heads turn especially when set against the dark purplish bronze foliage. It’s an all-rounder when it comes to it and is a great choice for borders, containers, or cut flowers.
Tip: As beautiful as they are, these plants are susceptible to slugs, snails, rabbits, earwigs, and aphids, so keep that in mind.
So there you have it. I’m pretty sure you’ll find something in here that will fit your fancy. If not, there are tons of other choices out there that are definitely good as well for the autumn season. Don’t forget to prepare your flower garden for spring as well.