Grow Beautiful Fall-Flowering Perennials

Five plants that will have you looking forward to autumn’s gorgeous blooms.

| May 2009

In the excitement of spring planting, it’s easy to get carried away and fill your nursery cart with heaps of things for summer. However, before you rush home with a ton of fuchsias, nemisias and osteospermums, remember that these cool-season annuals will only bloom for a few weeks before fading away in the heat of summer.

Instead, why not plant perennials, which offer their best in the fall. Here are five perennials that will give of their best from August onward, when cool weather returns.

Japanese anemone

The Japanese anemone and its hybrids are among the most pleasing of all fall flowers. They have dainty puff-in-saucer blooms that dangle from wiry stems, and each blossom is composed of six to eight shell-like pink or white petals surrounding a yellow powderpuff of stamens and pistils. While fragile in appearance, Japanese anemones are surprisingly tough. Once established, they’ll handle drought and a good deal of sun, although partial shade and moderately moist soil are the preferred growing conditions. They spread less in clay soils, which is nice for a small garden.

Two of the most popular white varieties are ‘Honorine Joubert’ – which grows up to four feet high, with a single row of petals – and ‘Whirlwind’ – which is slightly shorter and has semi-
double blooms. A good number of pink varieties are also available.

Begonia grandis

The begonia grandis loves shade, produces generous clear-pink blooms in autumn, and is winter hardy. There is also a white form available, along with a larger pink-bloomed variety called
‘Heron’s Pirouette.’

Another winter-hardy species, B. evansia, is sometimes classed as a subspecies of B. grandis, but is smaller overall and perhaps less vigorous. Perennial begonias prefer moist soils, and they don’t emerge until late spring – or sometimes not until June.

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