The plants that will bloom from August to October
MAny of us are summer addicts, overly focused on growing the roses, delphiniums and lilies of June and July. The downside to this is that, come late August, borders can look a bit drab. If you want to ensure the season ends with a bang not a whimper, you need to inject some colour, and one easy way of doing so is with lateflowering perennials that bloom in August, September and October.
So, what to choose for the ultimate late late show? The likes of monkshood
(Aconitum), joe pye weed (Eupatorium), coneflower (Rudbeckia), perennial sunflower (Helianthus) and sneezeweed
(Helenium) are at their best in August and September. And if the weather is kind – and you deadhead regularly – they may keep going into late autumn. During an Indian summer plants like penstemons will bloom into november. The majority of red-hot pokers
(Kniphofia) flower until the end of September, but a few cultivars perform for longer. ‘nancy’s Red’ (coral red) and ‘Brimstone’ (yellow) produce their torch flowers into October. Likewise, many ice plants continue to bloom in mid-autumn – try ‘Red Cauli’ and ‘Abbey Dore’.
Another late stalwart is the Michaelmas daisy (Symphyotrichum or aster), with flowers in white, pink or purple into October. ‘Little Carlow’ has small lavender-blue daisies and ‘Andenken an Alma Pötschke’ has bright pink flowers atop upright stems. Japanese anemones are also useful. The majority flower in September, but some keep going into October, including blush ‘Serenade’ and shell-pink ‘Montrose’.
To amp up the effect, intermingle these autumn perennials with lateflowering annuals like Helianthus
annuus ‘Claret’ and Tithonia rotundifolia
‘Torch’, and with grasses, which really come in to their own in late summer. It’s also worth considering earlier perennials that leave attractive seedheads on their stems. Sea holly and globe thistle are among the best.
And if your borders are full, many late bloomers can be grown in pots. Scarlet Hesperantha coccinea ‘Major’ and
pretty Erigeron karvinskianus are two that work especially well.
Plant late-season perennials now and, come summer’s demise, autumn won’t be such a shock to the system.
Hot favourites: rudbeckias and heleniums are just two of the perennials that will ensure your borders go out in a blaze of glory as late summer turns to autumn