When folks think of autumn color, trees are surely their first thought. However, 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-for-their-buck out of their herbaceous plants, here’s a list for you!
Yellow is probably 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
Solmon’s Seal – Polygonatum
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 tends to be the most brilliant color in the garden, it also tends to be the most variable, and sadly not as reliable.
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
Virginia creeper – Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Columbine – Aquilegia
Bloodred Geranium – Geranium sanguineum – Above all, a sure bet for red foliage.
Swamp Milkweed – Asclepias incarnata
Blazing star – Liatris
Lastly, there are many colored foliage plants being created in many different species. However, here’s some of the more well known ones.
Arisaema triphyllum -Jack-in-the-pulpit – Has a bright red seedhead.
Actaea – (aka Cimicifuga) – Some have black foliage.
Heuchera – Range from yellow to orange to red to purple (Coral Bells)
Heucherella – Encompasses many colors from red to orange to yellow to purple (Foamy Bells)
Tiarella – Leaves range in color from purple to red to yellow (Foamflower)
Thalictrum – Some have black stems with yellow leaves.
Ligularia – Many types have dark stems and foliage.