As we embrace this season of change and witness the green of summer fade into earth tones, we thought it would be beneficial to publish a list of the best fall perennials. All of the plants that made our short list produce their most brilliant colors in the fall and would be a beautiful addition to any landscape.
A Short List of the Best Fall Perennials:
- Autumn Joy Sedum
- Fireball Japanese Barberry
- Purple Smoke Tree
- Dwarf Fountain Grass
- Firepower Heavenly Bamboo
To expand your knowledge of each plant – maintenance needs and hardiness scale—keep on reading to see what we’ve put together!
AUTUMN JOY SEDUM
These hearty perennials have a rubbery texture and a bloom that starts as blush pink in the summer and will gradually darken as fall approaches. By the end of October, the Autumn Joy Sedum flower will be a deep maroon giving your landscaping all the fall feels.
- Maintenance Scale: Easy – These perennials will reseed themselves every year and are easy to propagate for greater impact. Once it reaches full maturity (3-5 years) it may need the occasional trim so that it fits in the space you originally planted it. Otherwise, let it do its thing!
- Hardiness Scale: Does well in Zone 3-9 and doesn’t mind the yearly freezing and thawing that PA endures. These perennials are sun lovers, so be sure to plant in full sun.
FIREBALL JAPANESE BARBERRY
These deer and drought resistant perennials have a brilliant color that will turn heads and last all year. The Fireball Barberry does not seed or bloom so there is no chance of it spreading, which makes it ideal for smaller spaces or a living border in your landscape bed.
- Maintenance Scale: Easy – These perennials are of a dwarf variety, which means they will stay compact without any trimming or pruning. Once mature, they will grow to be a maximum of 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide.
- Hardiness Scale: Unbothered by frost or cold, the Fireball Barberry does well in Zones 4-8. For best results, plant in well-drained soil and in full or partial sun as it likes a consistent environment.
PURPLE SMOKE TREE
These dramatic trees produce long-lasting foliage with a smoke-like airy seed cluster that lasts all summer and changes color in the fall. Because they keep their foliage for 8 months out of the year, Purple Smoke Trees are the perfect plant for someone looking to create a big impact and maximize their budget.
- Maintenance Scale: Easy – Because they are of a smaller variety little care is needed! The Purple Smoke tree is a slow grower maturing to a maximum size around 15ft tall to 10 feet wide in foliage. Once fully grown, if more space is needed a small amount of trimming can be justified when the tree is dormant.
- Hardiness Scale: Robust enough to endure winter and bud every spring, the Purple Smoke Tree would do best in Zones 4-11 and when planted in full sun will be fruitful year after year.
DWARF FOUNTAIN GRASS
These billowing grasses produce fluffy, white plumes that arch above the fountaining green foliage. They are soft to the touch, so planting them in high traffic areas is encouraged. The versatility of the Dwarf Fountain Grass is unmatched – they will turn from a vibrant green in summer to a golden russet in autumn and morph into a fountain of buckskin by the time winter hits.
- Maintenance Scale: Easy – With a moderate growth rate, these grasses will mature at 2-3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide making them perfect for a landscape bed border, backdrop for flowering perennials, or centerpiece for a container garden.
- Hardiness Scale: Planting in full sun, well-drained soil, and in Zones 4-11 will ensure the best growth results for these perennials. In the first growing season, make sure to water occasionally until fully established and more regularly if in a pot or container.
FIREPOWER HEAVENLY BAMBOO
One of the best coloring and most under-rated perennials available is the Firepower Heavenly Bamboo. The new foliage comes in a fresh green and changes to brilliant red hues as the plant ages throughout the season. The perks of this perennial include, the bright red coloring that will last through winter and the tidy, low branch structure which makes these plants great for borders, massing, tight spaces, and containers.
- Maintenance Scale Easy – Never needing pruned and Dwarf in nature means these perennials will grow no bigger than 30 inches tall and wide.
- Hardiness Scale: To thrive, the Firepower Heavenly Bamboo need the basics – full sun and well-drained soil. Because they are from the deciduous/evergreen family they can survive freezing temperatures making them ideal additions to landscapes in zones 6-11.
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