As we reach the halfway point of summer, it’s time to start thinking about the fall garden. But we don’t need to give up on summer color just yet! Each of these five plants works well in a different area of the garden and will continue to provide color and interest past the end of the season.
1. For the flower garden: Amsonia Hubrichtii
Amsonia hubrichtii, commonly called blue star, is a native perennial that pairs wonderfully with other flowering perennials. Use it to fill in spaces in your flower garden amongst coneflowers, yarrow, and other plants. Its light blue flowers bloom in late spring and early summer, but its foliage brings interest to the garden throughout the summer and beyond, as the green leaves turn a stunning gold color in the fall.
Blue star grows to be 2-3’ both tall and wide. For the best fall color, plant it in full sun. Massed plants make for a greater visual effect.
2. For an area with difficult soil: Color Guard Yucca
This evergreen plant is adaptable to nearly any soil type, making it perfect for those less-than-ideal spots every gardener has to deal with. The Color Guard Yucca grows to 3-5’ tall and 2-3’ wide, with a mound of long, narrow leaves. It flowers in summer, with a large flower head that blooms into clusters of white flowers – but its green variegated leaves are the beyond-summer star.
The yucca is native to beaches and other sandy areas in the southern U.S., bringing a bit of the coast to inland gardens while thriving in spots other plants can’t. Grow in full sun for best results, and remove the flower head and stem after the plant is finished blooming.
3. For an outdoor sitting area: Agastache Blue Fortune
Agastache is often called hyssop, but it’s also known as hummingbird mint, and for good reason: this peppermint-lemon scented plant brings hummingbirds to the garden, along with pollinators like bees and butterflies. It has spikes of small bluish-purple flowers that bloom over a long flowering season, from July into early fall.
Agastache Blue Fortune reaches 18” tall and is winter-hardy in some regions. It’s perfect for planting near outdoor seating areas, where you can enjoy not only its visual appeal, but also its pleasant scent and the hummingbirds it attracts.
4. For a shady spot: Caramel Heuchera
Another U.S. native, the Caramel Heuchera is a low-growing coral bells variety that loves shade. It’s ideal for spots under trees or on the northern side of a house. While the plant blooms with light, pink-white flowers in the spring, the “caramel” in its name comes from its pretty foliage: new leaves are reddish but fade to a soft caramel color in the summer, then turn a more vivid red in the fall. The wide, almost maple-like leaves are visually interesting in shape as well.
Plant heuchera in groups in shady areas with either most or dry soil. The short but wide plant also works well as a border or ground cover.
5. For edges and borders: Iberis Candytuft Purity
Use Iberis Candytuft Purity to edge your gardens and pathways for masses of striking white flowers in the first part of the growing season, and evergreen foliage the rest of the year with its narrow, dark green leaves. Another plant that works well as a ground cover, this variety grows to 6-8” tall and spreads about a foot wide.
Best in full or part sun, Iberis also works well in containers, over walls, and as a filler plant where needed in the garden.
While these five plants differ in size, shape, color, and best use, they all have one thing in common: the ability to bring long-term color to your garden. Why enjoy the beauty of your garden only in the spring and summer, when you could have lasting color into the fall?