25 Best Fall Flowers for a Beautiful Autumn Garden

Yellow, orange and red autumn flowers

When you think about a yard with splashes of colorful flowers, spring or summer probably comes to mind. Well, once the days start getting shorter, the leaves begin to change and the weather starts to cool off, why not enjoy some fall flowers for a gorgeous autumn display? There are plenty of flowering annuals, perennials and shrubs that continue to bloom until the first hard frost in your area. Try planting some of each in advance to create a garden paradise that puts on a spectacular display from spring until fall!

Here are 25 of the best fall flowers for a beautiful autumn garden. Happy gardening!

When is the best time to plant fall flowers?

When the dog days of summer have peaked and are starting to come to an end, the weather is perfect for fall planting. Mid-to-late August is often a great time to start planting your annual fall flowers, as long as the sun is not blazing hot. Of course, this depends on your growing zone and your first frost date. Best practice is to get your plants in the ground about six weeks before the first frost.

Also, a lot of unsold plants go on sale later in the year – you might snag a deal on some nice perennials that just need a bit of TLC and would look perfect in your yard! One of my favorite hobbies is browsing through clearance plants and seeing what kind of interesting varieties I can get my hands on for cheap. Planting in the fall is great for cold-tolerant plants, since the warm soil helps encourage root growth until the ground freezes, and then by the springtime, the plant is already established and ready to grow!

Best Fall Flowers – Annuals

You can grow these flowers as annuals in the summertime in just about every growing zone. If you live in a warmer area, some of these flowers are hardy over winter. Make sure you deadhead and clean up spent flower blossoms for continuous blooming!

1. Snapdragons

Close up of orange and pink snapdragon flowers

In my opinion, snapdragons are one of the top fall flowers to plant in your garden. Not only do these cool-season flowers come in a variety of bright colors, they will bloom from spring right through to the first frost in fall. In warmer climates, they might slow down during the hot summer months but will pick back up when the weather starts to cool down again. They are technically tender perennials, but they are most commonly grown as annuals in most areas. I love how the tall flower spikes add a nice contrast into flower beds when mixed with low-growing flowers like pansies and sweet alyssum.

Growing Zones: Zones 2-11 (perennial in zones 7-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Rocket Series, Tetra Mix

2. Marigolds

Red and yellow marigold flowers

Marigolds are one of my all-time favorite flowers. I don’t exactly know why, but their unique scent makes me nostalgic for some reason and it makes me happy. They are such easy flowers to take care of, and they will bloom continuously from spring until fall. They come in gorgeous colors of fiery yellows, reds and oranges (perfect for fall!), and the only “problem” is having to deadhead so much because of how many flowers the plants produce! Marigolds are also naturally squirrel and deer resistant because of their strong scent which is a bonus.

Growing Zones: 2-11

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Durango Series, Bonanza Series, Sparky Mix

3. Violas and Pansies

Dark pink pansy flowers

What is the difference between pansies and violas, you might ask? Pansies come from a hybrid of viola species, so all pansies are violas but not all violas are pansies. Either way, these little cool weather flowers come in all kinds of colors with beautiful gradients and patterns. There are so many varieties to choose from, which is why I consider violas or pansies to be one of the best fall flowers for your autumn garden extravaganza. Plus, the flowers are edible and make gorgeous cake decorations!

Growing Zones: 2-10

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Johnny Jump Up, Rose Antique Gem, Swiss Giant Mix, Halloween Mix

4. Celosia

Orange celosia flowers

These guys are another one of my top fall flowers! I love the unique shape and variety of fall-friendly colors – they almost look like little flames growing upright. Celosia blooms from midsummer until fall frost. This is another type of tender perennial, but most people grow them as annuals. Besides the feathery, flame-like shape, celosia also comes in a “cockscomb” variety, which is more of a compact, curly shape representing – you guessed it – the comb of a chicken. They remind me more of sea corals if you ask me!  Definitely a must-have for a fall flower garden.

Growing Zones: 2-11 (perennial in zones 10-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Century Mix, Castle Series, Chief Mix

5. Zinnias

Close up of orange zinnia flower

Zinnias are so easy to grow and make such gorgeous cut flowers, making them one of the best fall flowers to grow in your garden. Plant a round of seeds in the summer months to enjoy some gorgeous autumn blooms! For extra festivity, try some varieties in rich reds, oranges and yellows.

Growing Zones: 3-10

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Pop Art Golden & Red, Benary Giant Orange, State Fair Mix, Lilliput Mix

6. Strawflowers

Strawflowers with a bumblebee on one of them

Strawflowers get their name from their unique, straw-like texture – they really do feel crispy like they are made of straw! I think this goes perfectly with a fall aesthetic, and it’s a bonus that they come in gorgeous gradients of yellow, red and orange. Unsurprisingly, strawflowers make excellent dried flowers as well. They are also known as “golden everlasting” because they stay just as beautiful when dry and seem like they can last forever! My mother-in-law has always loved these flowers, and ever since I saw how beautiful and unique they looked in her garden, I had to get my hands on some! They are also deer resistant, which is a bonus for our area.

Growing Zones: 3-11 (short-lived perennial in zones 8-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Tall Double Mix

7. Osteospermum (African Daisy)

Purple osteospermum or African daisies

The African daisy, or osteospermum, is native to South Africa. They grow in a nice bushy shape and produce gorgeous, brightly-colored flowers. They bloom about two months after the seeds are planted, and they will bloom mainly in early spring and late summer/early fall with a rest period in the middle during hot spells. These flowers are grown as annuals in most areas, but they are hardy in zones 10-11. They are perfect mixed in with midsummer-blooming flowers, since they bloom just before and after that period, and they make great cut flowers as well.

Growing Zones: 3-11 (perennial in zones 10-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Asti Mix, Passion Mix

8. Dahlias

Close up of white dahlia flower with pink edges around petals

Dahlias are another one of those flowers that don’t stop blooming until frost once they start. Just like so many other top fall flowers here, they are just so cheerful! They come in all kinds of colors and sizes – some get as big as dinner plates! Dahlias are most commonly grown from tubers, which are planted in late spring and dug up after first frost to be stored indoors over winter in cooler areas. You can also grow them from seed, but you can’t guarantee what the flowers will look like. That is kind of fun and exciting though if you ask me!

Growing Zones: 3-11 (perennial in zones 8-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Figaro Series (seeds), Giant Hybrid Mix (seeds), Cornel, Foxy Lady

Check out this page for a huge list of great dahlia varieties! Dahlia tubers are best purchased in person at local nurseries, grocery stores or other places that sell them.

9. Nasturtiums

Crimson red nasturtium flowers

What I love best about nasturtiums is that all parts of the plant are edible, so you can plant them with your vegetables, herbs or other flowers! In fact, they make great companion plants for beans, cucumber, kale, radish and many others. These cute little flowers are easily grown from seed, and they can be planted in full sun to partial shade – best results are with full sun. They come in both trailing and bush types, so they are pretty versatile for containers and planted in the ground. These multipurpose plants are a must-have for fall flowers!

Growing Zones: 3-11 (perennial in zones 9-11)

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial shade

My Favorite Varieties: Glorious Gleam Mix, Jewel Mix, Empress of India

10. Sweet Alyssum

White sweet alyssum flowers

This is up there with marigolds for one of my favorite-smelling flowers. These little white flowers have a deliciously sweet scent and attract tons of small pollinators, and they make a wonderful addition to any planter arrangement or flowerbed. Wondering why your sweet alyssum stopped flowering in the summer? They are actually cool-season plants, and they will fade in the hot summer sun but resume blooming again in the fall – just make sure to cut back the spent flowers to encourage healthy growth and more blooming!

Growing Zones: 3-11

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Carpet of Snow, Basket of Gold, Royal Carpet

11. Verbena

Close up of a pink verbena flower cluster

There are so many different species of verbena, both annual and perennial, but they are most commonly grown as annuals. They are fairly low growing with upright flower clusters in beautiful pinks, purples, whites and more. When their ideal conditions are met, they will provide you with beautiful flowers throughout spring to fall. You can give them a nice healthy pruning from time to time to cut off the spent flowers and keep the plant lush right up to the first frost!

Growing Zones: 3-11

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Quartz Series, Lanai Candy Cane, Peaches and Cream, Homestead Purple

Best Fall Flowers – Perennials

The great thing about perennials is that you only have to buy them once and they will come back on their own each year. They might need just a bit of maintenance like pruning to keep them vigorous and coming back nice and strong! Just like with annuals, deadheading spent flowers ensures continuous blooming through the fall.

1. Chrysanthemums (Mums)

Orange and white chrysanthemums

You were waiting to see when this one would come up, weren’t you? No list of the best fall flowers would be complete without this classic autumn beauty. Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are found at just about every nursery, grocery store and big box store in the late summer and early fall. Most people buy potted mums to add to their fall décor and let them die off in the winter, but there are a lot of varieties of cold-hardy perennials that can survive winters in zones 5-9. I absolutely adore the scent of chrysanthemums – you know how smells evoke vivid feelings? I feel like the scent is associated with the change of seasons and shopping at Michael’s for fall-scented candles and DIY fall craft supplies. Is anyone else like this?

Chrysanthemums are an absolute must-have for a fall flower garden!      

Growing Zones: 5-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Fall Charm, Firecracker Series, Mammoth Series

Check out this list of hardy chrysanthemum varieties for even more inspiration!

2. Echinacea (Coneflower)

Purple echinacea flowers

Talk about a pollinator powerhouse! These cold-hardy native perennials seem to attract all kinds of birds, bees and butterflies. They are a staple flower for me in my perennial garden and one of the best fall flowers, since they are drought tolerant, self-seeding and come in so many beautiful colors. When your spring and summer-blooming flowers are on full display, your echinacea plants will still be growing and preparing for a gorgeous late summer-to-fall display of color to take over.    

Growing Zones: 3-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Purple Coneflower, Cheyenne Spirit, PowWow Wild Berry, Prairie Splendor

3. Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)

A field of black-eyed susan flowers

Black-eyed susans are another cold-hardy perennial that is a top fall flower choice for many people. My neighbors down the road have this gorgeous flower display at the end of their driveway that seems to be in full bloom from spring right through to fall, and towards the end of the season, it’s a stunning display of eye-catching black-eyed susans! It’s such a gorgeous sight to see when I turn down my country road and see their beautiful flower garden surrounded by open fields. Especially in the fall when the leaves are changing colors… just wonderful!

Growing Zones: 3-10

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Black-Eyed Susan, Cherry Brandy, Cherokee Sunset

4. Sedum (Stonecrop)

Pink sedum flowers

This one is a little different from the rest, as sedum comprises of a large group of succulents. Sedum is perfect for a rock garden or in a drier area of your garden. Like most other succulents, stonecrop has a shallow root system and does not require supplemental watering unless the plants are still young and establishing themselves. There are so many different species of sedum, but they are mainly divided into two groups: upright and creeping. I would highly recommend growing some sedum for your fall garden, especially the Autumn Joy variety – as its name implies, it really comes to life in the fall, where the leaf-colored flower buds turn a bright pink to copper red!

Growing Zones: 3-11

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Autumn Joy, Dragon’s Blood

5. Asters

Purple aster flowers

Asters are another classic fall flower like chrysanthemums and are a great alternative (or addition). They are very low maintenance and they attract tons of pollinators. They make very nice cut flowers as well. I’d recommend planting native varieties like the New England aster or New York aster.

Growing Zones: 3-8

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: New England, New York, Powderpuff Mix

6. Perennial Verbena (Blue Vervain)

Blue vervain wildflowers with bumblebee

Blue vervain is actually a type of perennial verbena and goes by many names, including wild verbena, wild hyssop and pigeonweed. Since they are a type of wildflower, they grow like, well, weeds (a weed is only a weed if its unwanted!). And since it’s a native species in North America, it’s a perfect addition to a pollinator-friendly garden and not just a fall garden. If you are into healing plants, vervain is also considered a herb and can be used to make teas that aid in digestion and other things.

Growing Zones: 3-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Blue Vervain Seeds (USA), Blue Vervain Seeds (Canada)

7. Helenium (Fall Sneezeweed)

Orange and yellow helenium flowers

Okay, before you skip this one because of the name, just know that it doesn’t actually cause sneezing, so don’t worry! The name comes from its historical use in making snuff, which, when inhaled, would cause sneezing in order to drive evil spirits out of the body. I love the beautiful orange and yellow-patterned flowers – the colors remind me of my favorite kind of marigolds! Heleniums make a striking addition to an autumn garden.

Growing Zones: 3-8

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Autumn Sneezeweed Seeds

8. Perennial Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)

Close up of red cardinal flower stalk with hummingbird hovering beside it

Cardinal flower is a type of perennial lobelia native to North America with tall, upright flower stalks. Since the flowers are bright red, long and trumpet shaped, they are one of the best flowers for a hummingbird garden as well as a fall garden – in fact, I would say that if you’re looking to attract hummingbirds, you need to plant some of these!

Growing Zones: 3-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Cardinal Flower Seeds (USA), Cardinal Flower Seeds (Canada)

9. Joe-Pye Weed

Joe-Pye weed flower with tiger swallowtail butterfly

Don’t let the name put you off – just because it has the word “weed” in its name doesn’t mean it is unwanted! Joe-Pye weed is a pretty wine-colored wildflower that that blooms from midsummer to fall, and since it’s native to North America, it is an excellent addition to a pollinator-friendly garden, and you’ll enjoy seeing many species of butterflies and pollinating insects visiting the flowers! They can grow quite tall, up to 5-7 feet, and the flowers have a nice sweet scent to them.

Growing Zones: 4-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Joe-Pye Weed Seeds

10. Gaillardia (Blanket Flower)

Close up of orange and yellow blanket flower

Just like helenium, these flowers have a beautiful coloring to them and make a wonderful addition to a fall flower garden! They grow quickly and spread quickly, and they bloom after their second year if planted from seed. They actually prefer to grow in rather poor soil, so you could plant them in a sunny spot where other flowers might not thrive as much and let them do their thing! Blanket flowers are a short-lived perennial, so they should be cut back at the end of the season to overwinter them and divided every 2-3 years in the spring to keep them vigorous. They can also be purchased at nurseries and grown as annuals.

Growing Zones: 3-10

Sunlight Exposure: Full

My Favorite Varieties: Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket

Best Fall-Flowering Shrubs

Invest in some of these beautiful flowering shrubs for a great landscaping addition that provides some gorgeous fall color!

1. Hydrangea

White hydrangea flower clusters

Hydrangeas are one of the best fall flowers when it comes to perennial shrubs. There are so many different species with so many different flower variations, and there are many that don’t reach their peak until the fall – perfect for a fall flower garden! They are usually rather expensive at garden centers, but they are permanent additions to your landscape and some varieties can grow to 15 feet high.

If you are considering planting hydrangeas, it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to understand the types of hydrangeas, how and when to prune them (some flower on old growth from the previous year, some flower on new growth and some are hybrids), and how to care for your particular variety.

We bought one called Strawberry Sundae that starts off with white flowers in midsummer and through late summer to fall, the flowers slowly start changing to soft pink, dark pink, and finally a deep red by the fall. At the time I am writing this, it is mid-August and the flowers are just starting to be tinged with a light pink! If you have deer in your area like we do, you may want to fence off your area with the hydrangea, especially when the plant is still young.

Growing Zones: 3-9, depending on species

Sunlight Exposure: Partial (morning sun and afternoon shade is best)

My Favorite Varieties: Strawberry Sundae, Annabelle, other hydrangea paniculata (panicle)  varieties

Check out this article and this article for some more inspiration on choosing the right hydrangea for you!

2. Hardy Hibiscus (Rose of Sharon)

Rose of Sharon hibiscus flowers

Rose of Sharon is a hardy type of hibiscus that blooms all summer long and into the fall. It is a total hummingbird magnet! They make great hedging and attract all kinds of other pollinators as well. I like the tropical feel of having a hibiscus bush with the plus that it is hardy over winter! This is a great option that attracts birds in general, as the bush provides cover and a nice place for birds to perch during the day.

Growing Zones: 5-9

Sunlight Exposure: Full to Partial

My Favorite Varieties: Blue Satin, Aphrodite, Minerva

3. Camellia

Pink and white camellia flower

If you live in the southern US, you probably know all about these or have heard of them at least! Camellias are so beloved in the south that they are the state flower of Alabama. They are considered a winter flower in these warm areas, specifically the camillia sasanqua species, and bloom from mid-fall to early winter, making them one of the best fall flowers for warm and mild climates. Camellias are not cold hardy, so if you live in a colder area, you could grow a camellia bush in a pot and bring it in over the winter. These flowers are so delicate and gorgeous, and I sure wish I could grow them myself!

Growing Zones: 6-10

Sunlight Exposure: Partial

My Favorite Varieties: October Magic, Autumn Rocket, Yuletide

4. Potentilla (Cinquefoil)

Potentilla bush with small yellow flowers

Potentilla shrubs (also known as cinquefoil) are super versatile for any yard. It is probably one of the most popular shrubs out there for landscaping. They are super hardy all the way to zone 2! Potentilla is great as a foundation plant, for filling space and to create borders. They are covered in cheery little yellow (or white or pink) flowers that bloom from early summer until fall. Make sure to give it a nice pruning at the end of the flowering season – don’t be afraid to cut it right back and let it regrow again!

Growing Zones: 2-7

Sunlight Exposure: Full to partial

My Favorite Varieties: Goldstar, Goldfinger, Abbotswood

Conclusion

What do you think about these 25 best fall flowers for your autumn garden? We’ve got some annuals, perennials and even shrubs, so hopefully you found a couple to try out! What is your favorite fall flower? Let me know in the comments!

Looking to attract birds to your yard? Check out our post about trees that attract birds! And check out our guide to organic gardening for some tips on how to make the most out of your homestead garden! Happy planting!

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