Top 5 Hot Fall Blooming Perennials

Our prairie and world climate is changing. For a few years now, the fall season on the prairies has become warmer than previous years, and we can enjoy beautiful fall days in the garden well into October. It just makes sense then that we extend our gardening season with mixed containers and fall blooming perennials. Yes, there are many perennials that bloom well into the fall up to the first hard frost. Many are bold and beautiful with hot fiery red, orange, maroon and yellow blooms. While everything else is slowing down, these babies are just warming up and give us a blast of color when we need it the most. They also provide our pollinators with food that is slowly becoming unavailable for the season. If you are planning a perennial garden for next spring do not forget to include all or some of these in your plan. You will not be sorry!! Here are the Top 5 fiery hot blooming perennials that will cheer you and your garden up for many fall seasons to come!

Helenium autumnale (Common Sneezeweed)

A native flowering perennial that is great for cottage and wildflower gardens or anywhere!

Height: 90-150 cm.
Spread: 60-90 cm.
Zone: 3-8
Light: Full Sun

The common name for Helenium autumnale came from Victorian days when they used the dried leaves to make snuff. This late summer to fall blooming perennial is extremely tough and easy to grow. The flower is a beautiful golden yellow, with a protruding cone-shaped center. This central disc is a milk chocolate brown with tiny yellow florets surrounding the outside of the cone. It makes a striking cut flower addition to any fall arrangement.

Soil: If possible, add some compost at planting time. This plant is tolerant of many soil conditions; acidic, alkaline, clay, loam or sandy. The first season water regularly and once established keep the soil moist but never soggy. Water at ground level. Deadhead to prolong bloom. Once blooming is over, cut back the entire plant to ground level. Provide a thick layer of mulch in fall with additional compost around the plant. If you are using compost for mulch you will not need to fertilize at all. If not, fertilize only in spring with an all-purpose perennial food.

Propagation is by cutting, seed, or dividing the root ball in spring or fall every three years.

The blooms attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.

There are too many cultivars to list them all but they range in color from yellow to burnt orange or bicolor (mahogany reds, gold, and copper markings). Cultivars also range in height from 60-152 cm. (1.52 metres) with a 60 cm. spread. Many are deer resistant.

Plant in groups of 3-5 for an eye catching display. Good air flow is essential to avoid powdery mildew.

Some of the Zone 3 cultivars include ‘Helena Red Shades’, ‘Mardi Gras’, ‘Double Trouble’, ‘Moerheim Beauty’, ‘ Butterpat’, and ‘ Ruby Tuesday’

Toxic to humans (if consumed in large quantities), dogs, cats, sheep and cattle.

Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis/Tickseed) 

Height: 60-90 cm.
Spread: 30-60 cm.
Zone: 3-9
Light: Sun / Part Sun

Native to North and South America. Coreopsis is a very long blooming perennial with a soft, wispy foliage texture. Small yellow daisy–like flowers bloom from summer into late fall. Along with yellow, many cultivars can be red, bronze, burgundy rose and cream white. Bees and butterflies love these plants.

Coreopsis can be an annual or perennial. There are 80 to 100 species and many cultivars. It is a native prairie plant that has been hybridized to produce some beautiful results. They are low maintenance and once established, drought tolerant. Virtually disease and pest free! In mass plantings allow for good airflow between each plant. If crowded, they may be prone to powdery mildew. Always water at ground level. Bonus: Deer resistant!

Some cultivars of Threadleaf Coreopsis are rhizomatous plants; spreading by underground root systems. Divide the root balls every two to three years.

Coreopsis rosea (Pink Tickseed)

Height: 30-60 cm.
Spread: 60-90 cm.
Type: Herbaceous perennial, rhizomatous
Zone 3-8
Light: Full sun

Lavender, pink blooms with yellow center discs. Blooms mid-summer into fall. Coreopsis is not known to be toxic to pets or humans.

Heliopsis helianthoides (False Sunflower or Oxeye) 

Type: Herbaceous perennial
Height: 91-182 cm.
Spread: 60-114 cm.
Zone: 3-9
Light: Full Sun

(You may need to stake this plant during the growing season.)

Heliopsis originated as a native prairie wildflower. It is extremely hardy and will withstand drought once established. Does well in areas with dry, poor soil conditions. This False Sunflower has striking yellow daisy-like flowers with dark brown central discs and flowers from June well into the fall. The yellow flowers attract a multitude of pollinators. Deadhead spent blossoms to prolong bloom. Fits well into a cottage or native garden plan.

Heliopsis can be used as a cut flower. Let the plants go to seed for the winter as they attract birds. Prune back to almost ground level in early spring to rejuvenate.

Heliopsis ‘Helhan’ (Loraine Sunshine)

Height: 60-75 cm.
Spread: 30-45 cm.
Zone: 3-9
Light: Full Sun

I saw this perennial many years ago at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm and it was stunning! It was covered in yellow blooms with variegated leaves and stood straight up on its own.

Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Asahi’

Height: 60-90 cm.
Spread: 30-60 cm.
Zone: 3-9
Light: Full Sun

Large, golden yellow double pompom flowers and coarse, bushy foliage. Very hardy, easy to grow and drought tolerant. Flowers all summer into fall. Attracts pollinators. Deadhead to prolong bloom. Makes a great cut flower!

Heliopsis helianthoides is toxic to humans, dogs and cats.

Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed Susan)

Height: 60- 120 cm.
Spread: 50-60 cm.
Zone: 3-9
Light: Full Sun to Part Sun

Native to North America, Rudbeckia falls into three categories: Annual, perennial or biennial. Rudbeckia fulgida is in the perennial category. Be aware that these plants spread by rhizomes and can create a sizeable clump. If seed is left in the winter for the birds, any extra seeds on the ground will usually germinate in spring.

Black-Eyed Susan is not fussy as to soil, but will not say no if you add a bit of compost! They prefer a relatively good soil with drainage, that is kept moist but not soggy while rooting. Drought tolerant once established. Yellow petals with a very dark brown to black central disc. They produce large seed heads that birds love to eat in the fall and winter. Deadhead to prolong bloom all summer into fall. Pollinators such as bees and butterflies find them very attractive. Can be used as a cut flower. Non-scented.

Black-Eyed Susan will take 2-3 years to reach full height. Some say that they are short-lived but they do readily self –seed. Cut back stems to ground level in early spring. If you do have some plants that are two to three years old you can also divide the root ball in spring or fall.

Mulch in late fall around the stems with a good layer of compost. This plant does not need to be fertilized; especially if you are using compost as mulch.

Very few pests bother Rudbeckia. If the plants are placed too close together in the perennial bed they may get powdery mildew. Give them some air circulation and water at ground level to avoid this problem. Deer and rabbit resistant. Toxic to cats, dogs and humans.

Rudbeckia fulgida var.sullivantii ‘ Goldsturm’

Height: 45-60 cm.
Spread: 50 cm.

Dark yellow daisy-like flowers with prominent dark brown central cone. Flowers through the summer until falls first hard frost.

Rudbeckia is toxic to humans; particularly children. Can cause mild irritation in dogs and cats if ingested.

Gaillardia x grandiflora (Blanketflower)

Height: 30-90 cm.
Zone: 2-9
Light: Full Sun

Gaillardia are a favorite in the perennial garden. They are extremely hardy, showy, long blooming plants. There are two dozen species in the Gaillardia genus, and many more cultivars. Their stunning colors include red, yellow,orange, peach, wine; some with banks of orange and red with yellow. They can be single, semi-double, double, or have petals that each form little tubes. The leaves are grey-green and hairy. Most if not all bloom from early spring right up until first frost. They attract many different pollinators. Deadhead to encourage more blooms. Make an excellent cut flower.

Blanketflower and its cultivars range anywhere in height from 30 to 90 cm. Can be divided every 3 years in spring or fall.

Gaillardias do well in poor soil conditions with good drainage. No need to fertilize.

After planting, they will need more frequent watering until the root systems are established. After the first season, the plants can tolerate some drought.

Be aware that Blanketflower is classified as a short-lived perennial. Hybrids (cultivars) left to self -seed will not come true to the parent plant. Dividing the root ball every two to three years will yield more plants that are identical to the parent.

Gaillardia ‘Burgundy’

Height: 60-90 cm.
Spread: 60-90 cm.
Zone: 3-10
Light: Full sun

Beautiful, deep wine-red, daisy- like flowers with yellow central cones maturing to a deep red. An extremely tough selection of gaillardia, known for its long blooming period into the fall. Pollinators love them and they can also be used for cut flowers. Divide every 2-3 years.

Plant in loam or a loam/sandy soil. Not fussy as to pH. Drought tolerant once established.

Gaillardia aristata ‘Arizona Sun’

Height: 20-30 cm.
Spread: 30-40 cm.
Zone 2-9
Light: Full Sun

An award winning Gaillardia that will bloom in its first season after planting. The flowers are very striking; scarlet red blooms with yellow tipped petals and a red central cone. The bloom period is from June into September. Deadhead to prolong bloom. Makes a great cut flower and is deer/rabbit resistant.

Arizona Sun flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Gaillardia aristata is a native prairie flower as well. The common name is Great Blanket Flower and many of its hybrid cultivars are very hardy to Zone 3.

Gaillardia is toxic to humans. Wear gloves when handling these plants are some people are prone to skin irritation and blisters. They are not toxic to dogs and cats.

FYI - Two stunning Gaillardias for Zone 3 to check out on the net. ‘Bijou’ and Monarch Mixture. Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Goblin’ is the hardiest of the perennial Blanketflowers. It is a small plant (20-30 cm x 25-30 cm) with lots of flower power. Blooms are a scarlet-red with fringed yellow tips and a reddish brown central cone. Deer and rabbit resistant too!

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