Best autumn flowering plants

Don’t throw in the trowel this autumn

Echinacea
Echinacea at RHS Harlow Carr

When planning ahead in the garden, autumn is often forgotten – until it’s upon us, then we wish we had more plants that perform between September and November. I’m sure this is the reason so many gardeners throw in the trowel at this time (sorry).

If you love a fiery colour palette, Halloween, hearty soups and appreciating weather and plants changing on a daily basis, this is the time of year for you.

Here’s my top seven flowering plants of the season. I tend to favour leaf interest in autumn, but many people like to see a flower – and they’re good bee fodder. Many also have the bonus of coloured foliage.

Timing is very arbitrary and totally based on weather – wind, excess wet or dryness, or frost, will all hasten the end of autumn. Enjoy it while you can!

Echinacea (coneflower): These stalwarts of prairie planting flower from mid-September-October, height 1-1.5m.

Fuchsia Hawkshead: this variety has delicate white flowers with the traditional ‘ladies eardrop’ shape, flowering all summer until November; also good leaf colour. Hardy shrub, 0.5-1m.

Dahlia Bishops Children: Dark-leaved with vibrant single flowers in hot colours, flowering right through until the first frosts. These half-hardy perennials are easy to grow from seed as half-hardy annuals, or lift the tubers of favourite colours to store in a frost-free place, height 40cm-1.5m.

Fatsia japonica (Japanese Aralia): A late autumn/early winter treat. The tropical-looking, glossy leaves of this very hardy shrub are a delight in any season, with the added bonus of cream globular flower clusters in November, height 2.5-4m.

Helianthus Lemon Queen (perennial sunflower): This tall hardy herbaceous perennial needs no staking and blooms from September to late October, with yellow daisy-like flowers, height 2m.

Leucanthemum x superbum Aglaia (Shasta daisy): This shaggy-looking white daisy will flower happily until November, providing vital late food for pollinators, height 0.5-1m.

Humulus lupulus Aureus (golden hop): This rampant hardy climber has golden leaf colour and hops from mid-September until the end of October, grows 4-8m in a season – cut back to ground level each year.

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