Perennials for Late-Season Color

Does your perennial garden peak early and disappoint from midsummer on?

Asters are stars of the late-summer show. Shown here are two types of asters paired with a fall-blooming allium (Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’)
Aster at the nursery

In the garden center, this plain-looking aster has a hard time attracting buyers. Still, avid gardeners can see its potential.

Does your perennial garden peak early and disappoint from midsummer on? You’re not alone. In most parts of the country, the majority of commonly-grown perennials bloom in the first half of the summer. But there’s another reason that most of us are lacking color in our late summer gardens. We need to be better shoppers!

Ask a garden center manager or nursery owner about when people buy perennials. You’ll likely to hear that 80% of their sales are in May and June. Next, you could ask them the difference in sales potential between a plant that’s in bloom and one that’s not. They will probably say that they sell 10 plants in bloom for every one plant that’s not in bloom.

What’s in bloom during May and June when people like us are buying perennials? It’s the early-season flowers: peonies, columbine, lady’s mantle, delphinium and iris. When we’re out shopping, the late-summer perennials are nothing but tufts of green. For the same price, they’re just not as appealing.

The solution? Once in awhile you need to shop with a list, not with your heart. It’s tough to do, but when late summer rolls around you’ll be patting yourself on the back. There are lots of wonderful perennials that bloom in late summer, including coneflower, asters, mums, Russian sage, cimicifuga, sedum, rudbeckia, and phlox.

Next time you’re at a garden center, roaming around in the perennials, challenge yourself to buy something that’s not in bloom. Check the tag and buy a plant or two that blooms in August or even September.

Now’s the time to tuck a few annuals into your perennial borders, too. Read Late-Summer Flowers, which tells you what to choose.

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5 Responses to Perennials for Late-Season Color

  1. Linda says:

    In my garden there are lots of different kind of flowers. And they start to bloom when snow melts and they follow eachother when one is gone of flowers the other type is just starting to open. But for summer time it is true, that I plant some flowers in the garden what last longer.

  2. Karen says:

    It took 10+ years to get there, but I do have blooming perennials from first thaw through first killing frost, I live in a northwest suburb of Chicago, and it was quite a challenge (and quite expensive, also) to achieve this. My next-door neighbor also has the “always something blooming” gardens. We share some flower beds, and have quite a lot of individual beds; good thing we get along wonderfully!

  3. Thanks for your comments. I'll be visiting Chicago in August. Maybe I'll come by and check out what you have for late summer bloomers!

  4. Renato says:

    hi ,everyone i new here , i love take care gardens ,i have my own blog about it but it is in spanish language ,but i love plants ,i just one to share with you my passion ,thank for read me

  5. Julia says:

    And don't forget Anemones for late summer blossoms. My favorite is Anemone 'Robustissima'. This single petal, shell pink Windflower is really 'robust' in moist loamy soil and dappled sun.
    ~Julia (

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