Plants for late-summer colour

Plants for late-summer colour

Discover some plants that will add colour to your borders in September and October.

Don’t say goodbye to summer too soon. It’s possible to extend the season of colour in your garden by growing late-summer flowering plants. Many of these will flower until the first frosts, giving you a longer season of colour and interest, while providing insects with nectar and pollen they wouldn’t usually have.

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Perennials that peak in late summer are wide-ranging, as are shrubs and climbers. Most fashionable annuals, exotics and tender perennial patio plants should also stay in flower until late-September, or even early October, if properly looked after.

Don’t forget ornamental grasses, which can lift a border into the designer league. And don’t forget to grow a few spare plants in pots, so you can slot them into gaps that may appear in a scheme.

Find out how to extend the season of colour in your borders, below.


Crocosmia

Plants for late-summer colour - crocosmia
Plants for late-summer colour – crocosmia

Formerly known as montbretia, crocosmia are spreading plants featuring clumps of strappy leaves alongside sprays of trumpet flowers in shades of red, yellow and orange. They flower for several months and look great as part of a hot border.


Japanese anemone

Plants for late-summer colour - Japanese anemones
Plants for late-summer colour – Japanese anemones

Japanese anemones are ideal for the no-fuss gardener. The large, long-lasting flowers in pinks, mauves or white are held on strong, medium-tall wiry stems that don’t need supporting.


Penstemon

Plants for late-summer colour - penstemon
Plants for late-summer colour – penstemon

Penstemons have short stems of large bell-shaped flowers in purples, pinks and blues that flower for a long period. They’re drought tolerant and pretty hardy, although it’s still advisable to take cuttings as a back-up, which you can then overwinter. Cut back plants in spring.


Stonecrop

Plants for late-summer colour - stonecrop flowers
Plants for late-summer colour – stonecrop flowers

Sedums, stonecrop or ice plants (many of which are now known as hylotelephium) grow reliably in hot, dry positions and are much loved by bees. Leave the flowers on the plant after they’ve died, as they’ll continue to look attractive in winter.


Phlox paniculata

Plants for late-summer colour - phlox blooms
Plants for late-summer colour – phlox blooms

A classic late-summer border perennial, Phlox paniculata comes in a wide range of colours, and one or two have variegated foliage. They’re reliable and trouble-free plants.


Helenium

Plants for late-summer colour - helenium flowers
Plants for late-summer colour – helenium flowers

For a zing of blood-orange, there’s little to beat heleniums (sneezeweed), whose daisy-like flowers are loved by bees for their nectar. After flowering, the seedheads are attractive well into autumn.


Hydrangea arborescens

Plants for late-summer colour - hydrangea blooms
Plants for late-summer colour – hydrangea blooms

Hydrangea aborescens ‘Annabelle’ is a real gem, with huge domes of white flowers dotted like plump cushions across a light-green leafy background. It flowers for ages and the huge heads last in semi-dried form until the first frosts.


Ceanothus ‘Autumnal Blue’

Plants for late-summer colour - ceanothus flowers
Plants for late-summer colour – ceanothus flowers
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Ceanothus ‘Autumnal Blue’ (Californian lilac) is reliable, evergreen, easy to grow and doesn’t need pruning. An old favourite, it is covered in billowing deep-blue flowers from early July to the end of September.