Garden Photo of the Day

Favorite Plants of Fall

Some beauties of the late summer and fall

summer gentian

Depending on where you live, it is finally starting to cool off and turn from summer toward fall. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year in the garden. The weather is cool, and the garden is lush and full. It isn’t as hectic as spring but is more of a quiet time to reflect and enjoy the garden before the inevitable arrival of winter.

And my favorite part? The plants! And I don’t just mean mums. Mums are nice and all, but there are so many other plants that look their best in late summer and fall. Here are some that I like best. What favorite plants of fall did I miss? Let us know in the comments, or send in your favorite fall pictures to be featured on a future Garden Photo of the Day post!

The red surprise lily (Lycoris radiata, Zones 6–10) is sometimes called the magic lily or red spider lily, because the red spidery flowers arrive as if by magic, without their leaves, in the late summer. The big, straplike leaves will come up later in the fall and last through the winter before going dormant in the spring. I love scattering these plants around the garden. They pop up so joyfully to add something new to a garden that may be looking tired after a long, hot summer.


Another favorite is this pink autumn crocus (Colchicum speciosum, Zones 4–9). The big leaves emerge in the spring, but the fall is just about the beautiful, fresh flowers.


Dahlias! Dahlias bloom all summer long, but they always seem to peak in the late summer and fall, just before the first frost, when they’ve had time to grow massive. They thrive in the cooler weather. One of my favorite fall rituals is going out in the garden when the first frost is predicted, cutting every single dahlia bloom, and filling the house with them to enjoy the last hurrah of the growing season.


The summer gentian (Gentiana septemfida, Zones 4–7) starts blooming in late summer right through fall. I love blue flowers any time of the year, but there is something especially wonderful about them in the fall when everything else seems to be heading toward shares of yellow and red.


Finally, of course, fall bulbs! No, the tulips and daffodils aren’t flowering this time of year, but soon it will be time to plant them, and there is nothing better than spending a crisp fall day tucking bulbs into the ground and imagining how beautiful they will be next spring.


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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/07/2018

    Lovely photos although I think my favorite is the jumble of bulbs... because of the promise they represent. It's pretty amazing to think about all the colorful potential contained within these brownish tan globs.

  2. lijda 09/07/2018

    Some of my favorites: Japanese anemones! I especially like the white-flowered Japanese anemones, although I also love the leaves on the pink-flowered Anemone crispa. And Japanese forest peonies; their bloom might be long over but the seedpods rival the bloom. And Clerodendrum (trichotomum var. fargesii, in my zone 5/6 garden). The hummingbirds love its white blooms and it has seedpods as stunning as the Japanese forest peonies. And the Tricyrtis, which is really late. I was amazed when they just started showing buds now. My favorite is 'Jim's Tall Towers'.

  3. btucker9675 09/07/2018

    The color of gentians never fails to amaze me... so beautiful!

  4. ancientgardener 09/07/2018

    I love the tall coreopsis (Creme Brule maybe). They just go on and on and even Coreopsis Moonbeam still blooms abundantly. And I love the soft blues of Russian Sage among all the mums and asters. These are old flowers, but I am an old gardener (90). :)

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