To extend the summer season, and enjoy the garden as long as possible, here are some plants with stunning late-season berries, blooms, and plumes.
Caryopteris: Also called Bluebeard or Blue Mist Spirea, it’s bloom begins in September, and shows off vibrant true-blue flowers for several weeks thereafter. A truly fantastic late-season option for a pop of incredible color. And pollinators flock to them.
Turtlehead: These striking perennials have blooms that look just like the heads and beaks of turtles. They bloom in late August and will continue for 3-6 weeks. An excellent choice for shade and moist soil.
Montauk Daisy: Also known as Nippon Daisy, they are a wonderful, medium-sized, autumn-blooming perennial. They are larger than your typical Shasta, and an excellent choice to keep blooms catching your eye from September through November.
Perennial Chrysnthemum: Generally, “Mums” bloom from September through November and stay vibrant for weeks. You can find them in all sorts of fun colors.
Ironweed: Named for its tough stem, Ironweed (also known as Vernonia) has excellent posture and can reach 4-6′ without slouching. The flowers of Ironweed are a rare color in the late summer landscape, continuing through September, and the brilliant purple-crimson bloom is very attractive to butterflies. An excellent addition to the pollinator garden, Ironweed is a Northeast native, and an important host plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly.
Japanese Anemone: With one of the longest-blooming seasons, up to 6-8 weeks, Japanese Anemones add brilliant color to the landscape, from mid-August through fall. Most popular is perhaps the award-winning ‘Honorine Jobert’ variety. It offers a multitude of pure white flowers on graceful, branching upright stems, above a solid clump of dark green deeply cut leaves.
Beautyberry: Also known as Callicarpa, they feature graceful, arching branches of small purple berries, making excellent specimen plants. Their unique, edible berries peak in very late August and last for several weeks thereafter. A one of a kind plant, and growing in popularity.
Ornamental Grasses: There are dozens of gorgeous grasses that can add color and texture to your garden. Many sprout huge showy feathery plumes in autumn, and just ignite the garden with fun drama and romance.
Panicle Hydrangea: Hydrangea paniculata have long-lasting blooms that often start as creamy white and take on shades of raspberry, blue, and limey greens as the season progresses. You can even enjoy their dried blooms in the winter.
Asters: Asters are easy to grow perennial plants that take care of themselves all summer long. Their vigorous blooms appear later in the season, right when other flowers begin to fade. Aster is a popular and dependable food source for Monarch butterflies, who rely on the nectar of late-season blooms to fuel their fall migration. ‘New England Asters’, ‘October Skies’, and ‘Bolton’s Aster’ are wonderful for the late-season garden.
Rudbeckia: Also known as Black-eyed Susan, this classic New England perennial blooms in mid-summer through mid-fall with large, 3-inch, golden-yellow petals and black centers.
Echinacea (Coneflower): June to August, varieties bloom in vibrant colors, as well as a range of flower forms—standard shuttlecock to horizontal ruffs to doubles with a powder-puff center. Varieties can reach 2-5′ tall. Butterflies, bees, and birds adore them for their pollen and seeds. For months, seed heads will attract a multitude of winged beauties, including Goldfinch.
Joe Pye Weed: An herbaceous, late- and long-blooming perennial native to much of the U.S. blooms July through September. This wildflower
can grow as high as 7′ T. Prefers most soil, and part shade.
Hardy Hibiscus: Huge, dinner-plate-sized blooms in extraordinary colors, varieties of these superstars can be staggered to bloom mid-summer to late fall, and are absolute stunners.
Toad Lily: Most begin blooming in September or October, depending on the cultivar and weather, and keep it up for 3 to 4 weeks or until they are wilted by frost.
Heptocodium: A large, fountain-shaped, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically grows 15-20′ at maturity with a 10′ spread. Features clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers in September, which turn into showy, raspberry-hued bracts, creating the effect of a second flowering.
Variegated Iris: The creamy stripes of a Variegated Iris’ foliage turn stark white in colder temperatures, making their pert blades very crisp and flashy looking in a late-season garden.
Crocosmia: Extremely showy and exotic-looking, Crocosmia produce decorative clumps of erect sword-shaped leaves and brilliant wands of fiery scarlet, red, orange, and yellow tubular flowers which bloom for 5-8 weeks from mid summer through mid fall.
Sedum: Depending on the variety, sedums flower any time from early summer through late fall. ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedums is particularly prized for its late-season color and blooms.