Keep your garden full of colour through autumn with a selection of late-flowering perennials, bulbs and shrubs. Some of the most popular plants for late colour include asters, sedums and Japanese anemones, which are at their peak as summer turns to autumn. But, if you have a small garden and can't fit in extra plants for a new season, look for long-flowering perennials and shrubs that will bring colour from July right through to October. Salvias and fuchsias will fill your garden with flowers in summer and keep going for weeks on end.
For an instant colour boost, plant borders and containers with flowering perennials or shrubs in September. Then get planning to add more interest next year. In spring, sow annuals such as cup and saucer vine and plant dahlia tubers, then in early summer plant autumn-flowering bulbs like nerines.
We've picked 20 plants to grow for autumn flowers, below.
Most dahlias will keep on flowering until the first frosts, providing welcome late colour after summer perennials have died down. There’s a huge variety of flower shapes and shades to choose from, whether you’re looking for a subtle single-flowered variety or a showy cactus or pom pom dahlia. Sow from seed or plant tubers in the spring. You can also buy plants in flower. In cold areas, tubers will need to be lifted for the winter.
Height x Spread: 1m x 70cm (depending on variety)
It’s worth planning in advance to enjoy autumn crocus like ‘Waterlily’ as summer fades. Plant bulbs in May to June under trees, in borders or to naturalise in grass. ‘Water Lily’ is a particularly attractive variety with several layers of petals.
H x S: 15cm x 10cm
Violas like Viola ‘Sorbet Ruby Gold Babyface’ are an inexpensive way to bring colour to window boxes and containers through autumn and winter. Buy some winter-flowering violas in September and they will flower through mild periods, cheering up your windowsill or door step. Violas are easy to look after and can be combined with plants such as pansies, skimmia, ivy and box.
H x S: 15cm x 20cm
The flowers of this cheery plant look a bit like a crocus. Sternbergia is also known as the winter daffodil and looks good added to the front of borders or in between shrubs and perennials. Plant the bulbs from midsummer to autumn, 15cm deep.
H x S: 15cm x 8cm
Anemone x hybrida plants have elegant flowers held on wiry stems, in pink or white. ‘Pretty Lady Susan’ is a compact variety perfect for the middle of a border, but there are taller varieties available, such as the white ‘Honorine Jobert’, which will light up the back of a border at 1.2m tall. Japanese anemones are ideal for shadier spots, although they do need some sun to flower well.
H x S: 45cm x 60cm
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’
Plant this popular black-eyed Susan alongside ornamental grasses and late-flowering perennials to extend the season into autumn. These daisy like flowers will keep going into October. It likes a sunny spot.
H x S: 60cm x 45cm
Asters will fill your garden with purple clouds of flowers until the end of October. They are easy to grow and their single, daisy like flowers are good for pollinators. Try varieties like ‘Little Carlow’ with its small violet flowers or ‘King George’ a large flowered, dark blue variety. Plant in sun or partial shade.
H x S: 70cm x 40cm
Also known as antirrhinums, snapdragons are long-flowering annuals, providing flowers right through summer until October. There’s a huge range of colours to choose from and they make excellent cut flowers as well as attracting bees. Sow the seeds in early spring under cover and plant out after the last frosts. Keep deadheading, just above a pair of leaves, to keep them flowering.
H x S: 90cm x 30cm
Flowers: June to October
For bright, stand out colour, you can’t beat a fuchsia. Shrubs like ‘Mrs Popple’ or 'Lady Boothby' will flower on into autumn, making an attractive focal point in your border, but there are also compact or trailing varieties that will perk up a container on the patio.
H x S: 1.1m x 1.1m
Lily turf is an autumn-flowering evergreen that looks good planted beneath trees or shrubs. It will thrive in shade, sending up spires of purple flowers until November – a useful, low-maintenance plant for a tricky spot.
H x S: 30cm x 45cm
Rejuvenate your borders for with a colourful chrysanthemum like ‘Ruby Mound’. These perennials bring easy cheer to late-flowering displays and come in a variety of colours from deep reds through to blazing orange, yellow and white. Plant in a warm, sheltered spot.
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H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Plant autumn-flowering cyclamen beneath shrubs or trees from August to October, with other woodland plants like evergreen ferns or in around the edges of winter containers. The flowers can be pink or white and appear before the leaves, which are heart shaped and marbled with silver.
H x S: 12cm x 15cm
Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’
Crimson flag lilies, also known as shizostylis, look a bit like gladioli with small, elegant flowers held on long stems. Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’ has scarlet red flowers, but you can also find pink and white varieties. Crimson flag lilies add height in a sunny spot and make excellent cut flowers.
H x S: 60cm x 30cm
Sow this annual climber in spring and you’ll be rewarded with months of flowers. Ipomoea lobata will cover a wigwam or trellis in fiery red and cream flowers, reaching up to 5m tall.
H x S: 3.6m x 60cm
Plant nerine bulbs in May to June in a spot that gets full sun. Nerines are popular for their exotic blooms that last for weeks, ideal for an autumn container or to fill gaps in the border. There are also red nerines but Nerine bowdenii is one of the hardiest. Tender varieties may need to be grown under cover.
H x S: 45cm x 25cm
Red hot pokers are a dramatic addition to an autumn planting scheme, bringing upright interest and a blaze of colour. As well as the most recognisable bright red varieties, there are also yellow and orange kniphofias, such as 'Sunningdale Yellow' or the apricot ‘Tawny King’.
H x S: 1.25m x 1m
Cup and saucer vine
Cobaea scandens is a fast-growing climber that's ideal for covering walls and fences. It will go on flowering until the first frosts, with purple, bell-shaped flowers. Sow under cover in early spring and plant out after the last frosts in a sunny border or container.
H x S: 3m x 2m
Salvia greggii ‘Purple Emperor’
Attract bees and butterflies to your garden with a beautiful salvia that has dark purple flowers and scented foliage. This salvia is hardy in most areas but may need frost protection in colder parts of the UK. It's easy to raise young plants from cuttings, which is a good way of insuring you still have plants if there's a hard winter.
H x S: 60cm x 60cm
Hebe 'Autumn Glory'
Hebes are useful plants for adding structure to the border. Many are evergreen and compact, with small glossy leaves that often have hints of red or purple. They're low maintenance with the added bonus of flowers in summer that attract bees. Hebe 'Autumn Glory' will keep on flowering into autumn and the red to purple edge on its leaves gets darker, bringing additional autumn colour.
H x S: 60cm x 60cm
Abelia x grandiflora
Grow this semi-evergreen shrub in a warm sheltered spot to enjoy flowers that last right into autumn. The pink flowers are held on arching branches and have a wonderful scent. Abelia is a good pick if you're looking for an attractive focal point once summer flowering perennials have died down.
H x S: 3m x 4m
More plants for autumn flowers
- Ceratostigma plumaginoides
- Winter pansies
- Repeat flowering roses