Late Flowering Garden Perennials
Late Flowering Garden Perennials
Whether it’s because of drought, summer heat, heavy rain or just bad planning, it can be a challenge to keep gardens looking colourful into the autumn!In a few weeks’ time we’ll have plenty of colour from berries and the rich colour of autumn leaves.
Most gardens suffer from the impulsive spring flower syndrome. You know what I mean; everything looks fantastic with wonderful flowering cherries, forsythia, magnolias, tulips and all those things that plant retailers tempt you with!
This is as a result of your first visit to the garden centre after the end of a dreary winter and who could blame you?
We are suckers for buying plants that are in flower!
Most visits to the garden centre are made in spring and it comes as no surprise that we have filled our gardens with spring flowering plants. These can look decidedly dull by September.
So which late flowering perennial plants will fill that gap before the autumn flowering plants kick in?
Well it’s too early for most Michaelmas Daisies and the vast majority, but not all, are far too prone to powdery mildew to find a place in my garden.
However, there are a few that resist this oh-so-difficult disease to control.
Varieties of Aster x frikartii top that list! Look out for the one called Monch which, although not as tall as some, just keeps on blooming!
Later on the Aster novae angliae [New English] selections will bloom and have great mildew resistance too!
In fact lots of daisy-like garden perennials are in flower now and most are easy to grow.
Perennial Rudbeckia, Helianthus and Echinacea are great performing late flowering garden perennials to fill the colour gap now. These look lovely when planted with ornamental grasses.
Red Hot Pokers
Of course some late flowering garden perennials even have grass-like leaves but produce showy blooms too!
Most red hot pokers (Kniphofia) are in flower now and some have been flowering for weeks. These are un-demanding low maintenance plants to grow and now available in a far greater range of colours than just red.
I am particularly impressed by a group of new varieties from the USA. These are called the ‘Popsicle Series’. Although not particularly fussy where you grow them, they do prefer good drainage and full sun.
Ice Plants (Sedum) thrive in similar conditions and soon they will be opening their dense clusters of tiny flowers to welcome masses of butterflies and bees.
These are just so very easy to grow provided that you lift them every two or three years and divide the dense clumps up to replant them. If you do this, don’t forget to throw away the centre of the clump and keep those younger bits from around the edge since these will be better performers for you.
Gaura may not be a name that you are familiar with but this is another great late performer. ‘Rosy Jane’ is my favourite and has been flowering for several months already and will continue to bloom for weeks yet!
Don’t Forget the Dahlia!
A major player in the colour stakes this month is of course the Dahlia! With such variety of bloom
shapes and a kaleidoscope of colours this is a “must have” for this month. I’m especially fond of the single flowered varieties and I’m not alone as the bees like them too!
Dahlias are at their very best at this time of the year. Read more about them here.
Late Flowering Perennials for Shade
But what about plants for those damper and shadier spots I hear you say?
Montbretia- now more correctly called Crocosmia- will flourish and give fresh vibrant colour where earlier damp lovers are fading.
Newer varieties are such an improvement on the old weedy Crocosmia masonorum that has, in some places, become a menace when fly-tipped onto waste ground and roadsides.
Schizostylis- now more correctly called Hesperanthera – is beginning to bud up. This waits all summer to bloom in autumn. The flowers are reminiscent of gladioli and are either red, pink and, if you’re lucky enough to find it, white!
These will tolerate really wet conditions and is sometimes seen growing in shallow water.
Japanese anemone, although often invasive, produce a great show of colour this month!
Unless you have space to spare, look for the more compact varieties such as ‘Honorine Joubert’, ‘Pamina’ and ‘Whirlwind’.
Newer varieties that are causing a lot of excitement are the much earlier and longer flowering. The introduction of ‘Wild Swan’ a few years ago was a game changer. However ‘Dreaming Swan’ and ‘Ruffled Swan’ are even better!
There are many more varieties at their best at this time of year but in spring you wouldn’t give them a second look. Given a thorough watering before and after planting there is no reason why you can’t plant these now.
It will ensure that your garden avoids that past its best look now and every September!
What plants perform well for you in late summer?
Many gardens have borders devoted to late summer and autumn. A curved one at Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol is usually very impressive.