Perennials for Fall Color

When folks think of fall colors, tree leaves are surely their first though. Not many folks realize that there are some perennials that put on a pretty good show at the end of the season also. So if you’re the kind of gardener that wants the most bang out of their herbaceous plants, here’s a list for you!

If you’re looking for grasses by autumn color – please see this post all about them.

Yellow Fall Color

Yellow is the most common color for fall foliage on perennials. In fact, the leaves of many perennials will turn yellow before they go dormant or disappear for the winter, however here are some tried and true yellows for fall.

Amsonia tabernamontana – Blue Star

Amsonia ciliata – Downy Blue Star

Amsonia hubrechtii – Arkansas Blue Star

Sensitive Fern – Onoclea sensibilis

Royal Fern – Osmunda regalis

Autumn Joy Stonecrop – Sedum

Balloon Flower – Platycodon

Hostas – I feel the variegated ones put on the best shows

Monkshood – Aconitum

Variegated Solomon’s Seal – Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum

Red Fall Color

Red fall color tends to be the most brilliant color in the garden, it also tends to be the most variable, and not as reliable.

Purple wintercreeper – Euonymus fortunei ‘Coloratus’

Leadwort – Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Beardtongue – Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Japanese Painted Fern – Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’

Prairie Smoke – Geum triflorum

Peonies – Paeonia

Pigsqueak – Bergenia

Cardinal Flower – Lobelia cardinalis

Barrenwort – Epimedium

Gooseneck loosestrife – Lysimachia clethroides

Columbine – Aquilegia

Bloodred Geranium – Geranium sanguineum This lady is usually a sure bet for red foliage.

Orange Fall Color

Swamp Mlkweed – Asclepias incarnata

Blazing star – Liatris


Perennials That Mimic Fall Foliage Colors All Season:

There are many dark colored foliage plants being created in many different species. However, here’s some of the more well known ones.
Heuchera – Range from yellow to orange to red to purple (Coral Bells)
Heucherella – range in color from red to orange to yellow to purple (Foamy Bells)
Tiarella – range in color from purple to red to yellow (Foamflower)









Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

23 thoughts on “Perennials for Fall Color

  1. Beauties, all of them. I just need to locate some swamp milkweed which is native in many areas and I’ve read that it will do well even in a drier location. I must give it a try. If it does not do ok then it is nothing gained and nothing lost or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! The branches of dogwood are so beautiful after the leaves are gone. Another shrub you may like is the Salix integra “Hakuro-nishiki” / Dappled willow bush. Beautiful variegated leaves drop from red branches. A rounder growth habit, compared to the straight up dogwood.


  2. This is a topic that I rarely write about because we do not have many perennials that get good color. Our autumn color is limited mostly to only the most reiliable trees. Some of the marginal trees are not coloring this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t really think about the fact that some perennials actually have fall color, until a client asked me to design his yard with fall color in mind. I wasn’t just going to think about the trees and shrubs πŸ˜‰ That would be too easy.
      We had great color this year. I love to kayak during October to see untouched areas of color.

      Liked by 1 person

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