Fall scenery is already spectacular as our trees and shrubs start taking on new colors. But the visual impact of our landscape is all the more striking when we add fall-blooming perennials into the mix!
When spring and summer blooms have long since faded, we often wish there would still be flowers to enjoy through September and October. Luckily, we’ve got plenty of options to grow here in Iowa. Fall scenery is already spectacular as our trees and shrubs start taking on new colors. But the visual impact of our landscape is all the more striking when we add fall-blooming perennials into the mix!
Our Favorite Fall-Blooming Perennials
Here are some of the most beautiful fall-blooming perennial plants that are hardy to USDA Zones 4 and 5. You’ll love how they bring one final burst of color to the landscape before the snow falls.
Joe Pye Weed
This low-maintenance, fragrant, shrubby plant has an upright growth habit reaching seven feet at maturity. Its jewel-toned flower clusters remind us of rose quartz crystals that thrive best in full to partial sun and prefer consistently moist soil. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely. If it starts to topple over, you may need to stake its flowers so they remain upright.
These adorable fall-blooming perennials make lovely cut flowers for teacup bouquets. They’re typically pink or white and look similar to daisies but with more expansive, rounded petals. Anemones reach two to three feet at maturity and do best in partial shade. They can handle full sun, but you’ll need to ensure their soil doesn’t run dry.
We love how this hardy succulent ground cover adds contrasting color and texture to fall scenery! “Autumn Joy” is one of our favorite fall-blooming perennials, perfect for water-wise, low-maintenance landscapes. Like most succulents, it doesn’t need much water and does best in sandy, well-draining soil. Plant it in full sunlight for the biggest, brightest blooms possible.
Black Eyed Susans
A favorite among pollinators, this native perennial keeps blooming brightly through summer and fall, brightening the scenery with its bright yellow petals. Planting them in full sun to partial sunlight is okay, but you won’t get as many flowers. Like most native flowers, black eyed Susans are drought-tolerant once established, but you should still water them generously through fall after you’ve planted them.
Also known as blanket flowers, these native perennials boast blazing orange, gold, and red tones, perfectly complementing the warm-toned fall scenery. They reach two to three feet tall and spread one to two feet wide. While their blooms aren’t exceptionally long-lasting, they rebloom vigorously! Deadheading will encourage continuous blooms from summer until frost. Plant in full sun, and they’ll be drought-tolerant once established.
Tips for Successfully Planting Fall-Blooming Perennials in Iowa
The soil is nice and cool in fall—perfect for transplanting new perennials—but you must prepare for the upcoming winter freeze. Here are some tips for planting your fall-blooming perennials.
Use a Transplant Fertilizer
All fertilizers have a ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Transplant fertilizers have higher phosphorus content, which helps stimulate healthy root growth! Be sure to read the package directions correctly, and don’t add more than you need—too much phosphorus in the soil isn’t healthy. Wallace’s recommends Root Stimulator from Fertilome for all newly planted perennials and shrubs.
Apply Mulch for Cold Protection
Mulch has many uses and benefits for the landscape, including cold protection. It’s like a blanket for your plant’s roots, helping insulate them from freezing temperatures. Spreading mulch, bark nuggets, or wood chips across the soil around your newly planted perennials will help keep them strong through our cold Iowa winter.
Plant At Least 6 Weeks Before Ground Freeze
Your perennials will need adequate time to spread their roots and get established before the ground is frozen solid. Six weeks before the big freeze is the absolute latest you should be transplanting. Aim for earlier, if possible!
Water Generously Until the Freeze
New transplants always need extra water in the early stages to help get established. Keep the soil consistently moist without going overboard. Soggy soil saturated with stagnant water can lead to root rot, which is hard to fix.
Discover all these and more fall-blooming perennials for sale in Iowa by visiting Wallace’s Garden Center in Bettendorf. While at it, grab some spring-blooming bulbs to plant for beautiful blooms as soon as the snow melts!