20 Best Fall Flowers to Plant for Autumnal Color

Annual and Perennial Flowers for Adding Fall Interest

red salvia and fall flowers

The Spruce / Margot Cavin 

When you think about sprucing up your landscaping for the fall, don't forget about planting fall flowers. While trees and shrubs with colorful fall foliage are a prized part of the autumn scene, perennial and annual flowers also can add their own beauty. Fall flowers come in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes suitable for any garden style. There are both hardy choices that can persist through some frost and tender plants that frost will kill. Plus, toward the end of the growing season annual plants are often on sale, though options might be limited. So even though annuals won't stick around for long in your fall garden, they still can be a bargain. On the other hand, hardy perennial fall flowers will bloom season after season at a time when many other plants are done with their blooming period.

Here are 20 fall flowers to keep your landscape blooming into autumn.

Tip

Mid- to late August is often a good time to plant fall flowers, as long as the weather isn't still so hot that the plants will suffer heat stress. Check the growing requirements for your individual plants. But don't wait too late to plant, or you'll have a very short window to enjoy your flowers.

Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.)

Mums are quintessential fall flowers. They start blooming in September and last until frost. And the many species come in various bloom shapes and colors. When selecting mums for fall planting, look for a plant that isn’t in full bloom yet. It will struggle less with transplanting. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy for the best flowering.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, white, red, purple, bicolors
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, moist, well-drained

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis)

Marigolds will first bloom in the late spring to early summer. And if you continuously deadhead your plants (remove the spent blooms) they can stay in bloom all the way through fall, though flowering might slow in the peak heat of the summer. These plants feature daisy-like flowers that typically come in a shade of yellow or orange. They are typically grown as annuals but might self-seed in your garden. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, cream, pink
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained

Scarlet Sage (Salvia splendens)

This flower is a tender perennial that’s often grown as an annual outside of its hardiness zones. It can bloom from June all the way until frost in the fall. Its bright red flowers stretch around 2 inches long and grow in clusters on erect stems above the foliage. Plants can be potted in the fall for overwintering indoors.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
  • Color Varieties: Red
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Sweet alyssum spreads with mounds of gray-green, lance-shaped foliage. Its clusters of small, four-petal, sweet-scented flowers first bloom in the spring. Then, the plant will often decline in the heat of summer. Cut it back by half at this point. Once cool temperatures return in the fall, its foliage should perk up again, and it often repeat blooms. You also can plant seeds in August for fall flowers.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: White
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)

Nasturtium species can be annuals or perennials with different shapes, including bushy, climbing, and trailing growth habits. Most plants in the genus feature brightly colored flowers. In general, they flower from roughly May to September, though the exact timing depends on the species and climate. These are typically low-maintenance plants, but they will appreciate watering during periods of drought.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
  • Color Varieties: Red, orange, pink, yellow, cream
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

Violet (Viola spp.)

There are hundreds of species in the Viola genus. In general, violet refers to the low-growing, mounding plants that spread readily in the garden. Many species struggle in the summer but will revive and bloom in the fall with their showy five-petal flowers. Use a slow-release fertilizer in late summer to encourage fall flowers. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

Snapdragons are tender perennials that are also grown as annuals. In cool climates, they can flower all the way from spring to frost in the fall. In climates with hot summers, they often will slow down in the heat but will pick up with their blooming when cool weather returns. The plants get their common name because the tubular flowers somewhat appear like the head of a dragon.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10
  • Color Varieties: White, yellow, red, orange, pink, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

Feather Celosia (Celosia argentea)

This annual can bloom from early summer all the way until frost. Feather celosia’s flower heads have a feathery appearance, hence the plant's common name. They stretch around 4 to 10 inches long with densely packed blooms on upright stems. Seeds can be started indoors roughly six to eight weeks before your area’s projected last frost date in the spring for an earlier bloom.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
  • Color Varieties: Red
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

New England asters bring vivid color on their showy flowers in the late summer and early fall. The flowers have a daisy-like look, stretching almost 2 inches across. Pink to purple petals extend out from bright golden centers. Plants will often self-seed if you leave the spent flowers heads on; otherwise you can cut the plants to the ground for a tidier look.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Pink-purple, purple
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained

Nippon Daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum)

The Nippon daisy, also known as the Montauk daisy, blooms in the late summer to early fall. The flowers, which feature white petals and green centers, form on long stems and stretch around 2 to 3 inches across. They tend to make long-lasting cut flowers. To encourage continued blooming, deadhead the spent flowers. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: White
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained

Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

Goldenrod is a perennial wildflower that blooms from mid-summer to fall. Its tiny yellow blooms form in clusters on upright stems, and they are quite attractive to butterflies and bees. Remove the spent flower clusters to prolong blooming.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Yellow
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, well-drained

Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum)

Joe Pye weed is another perennial wildflower that grows in upright clumps. It blooms in the mid-summer to early fall with domed clusters of tiny flowers. The blooms have a pleasant vanilla scent. Cut your plants to the ground in the winter to maintain vigorous growth.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Mauve, white
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained

Bluebeard (Caryopteris × clandonensis)

Bluebeard, also known as blue mist, blooms roughly from July to September. It’s a small, mounded shrub with aromatic foliage. The flowers come in tiny clusters that are said to resemble clouds of blue mist on the plant, hence its common name. Make sure your plant has good soil drainage and that you don’t overwater, as it’s not tolerance to soggy soil.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, pink
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained

Autumn Joy Stonecrop (Hylotelephium telephium 'Herbstfreude' (‘Autumn Joy’)

Autumn Joy stonecrop is a hardy, low-maintenance plant that can thrive in many different growing conditions. It prefers soil with sharp drainage. In the fall, the plant blooms with small, star-shaped flowers that start out pink but darken to red. Pinching the plant back in the spring can encourage bushier growth.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Pink, red
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-drained

Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)

The autumn crocus grows from a bulb that must be planted in well-drained soil. Plant in the late summer for a fall bloom. The bulb sends up foliage only in the spring, which dies back by summer. The fall flowers rise up on bare stems. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Lavender-pink, lilac-pink
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Rich, medium moisture, well-drained

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian sage is a woody perennial whose gray-green foliage is aromatic when crushed. It has a long blooming period from mid-summer through fall with clusters of small, tubular flowers. While Russian sage can tolerate a bit of shade, the stems might flop over without enough sun and flowering will likely be diminished. Cut plants back in the early spring for renewed growth.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
  • Color Varieties: Blue, lavender
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Sunflowers are a show-stopping addition to any garden. Their blooms can stretch 3 to 6 inches wide atop tall stems. And they typically feature yellow petals with brown centers. Different sunflower varieties bloom at different times. Many start blooming in the mid- to late summer and stretch into fall. Consider harvesting seeds from the flower heads to plant the following growing season. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11 (annual)
  • Color Varieties: Yellow, red, brown
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, moist, well-drained

Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Sneezeweed is a clump-forming perennial wildflower with a long blooming period. Its flowers arrive in the late summer and can last all the way until the first frost of fall. The daisy-like blooms stretch around 2 inches across and have domed centers. Cut back the plants at least six weeks before blooming is set to begin. This will encourage more branching and thus more flowers.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
  • Color Varieties: Red, yellow, orange, gold, copper
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

Petunia (Petunia spp.)

Petunias are tender perennials that are commonly grown as annuals in most climates. They can bloom from late spring all the way until frost in the fall, though they might slow down in the heat of summer. The flowers are generally large and funnel-shaped, coming in a wide array of colors. If your petunias decline in the summertime, cut them back. This will encourage them to bloom again in the fall. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11
  • Color Varieties: Red, yellow, orange, pink, purple, white, green
  • Sun Exposure: Full, partial
  • Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-drained

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x Grandiflora)

Blanket flowers are a perennial hybrid with a fast growth rate and long blooming period from late spring to fall. The bright, showy, daisy-like flowers can stretch 3 to 4 inches across, and they form above the foliage on upright stems. If flowering slows in the summer, cut back the plants to encourage fall flowers. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10
  • Color Varieties: Red, yellow, orange
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-drained