What is blooming in your September garden? If you can't say "A lot!" then you are missing out on one of our favorite and most colorful months. Let me teach you about a some perennials that are gracing my gardens this month...
First up is one of my favorite yellow daisies of all time. Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers' has it all. Blooming August through September, the flowers have the cutest quills at the end of each petal. The common name is aromatic coneflower. The slightly scented leaves make this plant very deer resistant. It is also very drought tolerant. The blossoms make great cut flowers and last a very long time in a vase. Henry grows about 5 feet tall, but I never let that happen. I always give him a hard pinch in June to keep him around 3 feet in height so he never needs staking. Enter 'Little Henry', a compact form of 'Henry Eilers' that naturally tops out at 3 feet without any pinching at all.
Speaking of quilled flower petals, another line of seriously beautiful September blooming perennials are Mammoth Mums. This is a line of hardy chrysanthemums bred in Michigan. They are naturally short, full, and compact and bloom quite early for a perennial mum. I have actually observed 'Yellow Quill' in bloom in the middle of August, as it is one of the longest blooming varieties in the group.
Asters are the mainstay of the September perennial garden, especially New England and New York asters. 'Purple Dome' is a compact form of the normally taller New England asters. Growing 18-24" tall, it rarely needs staking and makes a good landscape plant near the front of the garden. Monarch butterflies rely on asters for nectar as they migrate. New York asters are much shorter, very compact and have thinner leaves. They also bloom in September and work well in sun or dappled shade. One great way to add New York asters to your gardens is to put them in mixed containers along with fall annuals and then plant them in the landscape in late fall.
Right now, my gardens are filled with blooming Vernonias (ironweeds) of many sizes. The taller form (V. noveborincensis) is over 6 feet tall, towering above the plants in my lower garden. It is constantly visited by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I also grow V. lettermanii 'Iron Butterfly' with narrow, delicate foliage and the same purple, fuzzy flowers. This blooms in September and continues well into October. I give this plant one pinch in June to keep it extra full and it then tops out at about 18-24" my garden, a rounded dome absolutely smothered in flowers. In between is V. x 'Summer's Swan Song'. It has thin, fine textured foliage and it grows to 3 feet tall.
One last plant to intrigue you. This is Sanguisorba tenuifolia 'Atropurpurea', also called burnet. I have grown this variety for decades and I love it because it has such an unusual form AND it makes a fabulous cut flower. It will bloom in my garden until hard frost.
These are just a FEW of our favorite fall bloomers. There are so many wonderful plants to choose from to enhance your second season garden. When you come to Natureworks for a visit, be sure to ask a staff member to help you plan your fall garden for succession of bloom. We are happy to help!