New England aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a beloved native plant that’s an all-time fall favorite. ‘Purple Dome’ unfurls 1.5-inch blooms in shades of deep purple, but you can find asters in a host of other colors, too. Look for asters with blossoms in neon or pastel pink, white, lavender and violet. Flowers beckon late-season pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Plants grow 18 to 24 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 5-8.
Bring part shade areas of your yard to glowing life with the bright pink flowers of ‘Valley Valentine’ pieris (P. japonica). Dangling flowers open from deep red buds in late winter and early spring. Also known as lily-of-the-valley shrub, pieris is a slow grower, eventually reaching a mature size of 5 to 7 feet tall and wide. Use ‘Valley Valentine’ as part of a foundation planting, shrub border or hedge. Hardy in Zones 6-8.
Some clematis showcase bicolor blooms. One of the most well-known in this category is ‘Nelly Moser.’ This beauty unfurls very big, 7- to 9-inch flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by a second bloom in early fall. Each blossom displays pale lilac petals with a glowing pink bar down the center. Colors tend to fade in full sun, so give ‘Nelly Moser’ a spot with light shade. Flower centers sport shades of deep purple. For best flowering, remove top growth by one-third in early spring. Vines grow 6 to 10 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Grow beside a porch where you can enjoy the bicolor blossoms on a daily basis. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
If you love hummingbirds, include cardinal flower (Lobelia speciosa) in your yard. The brilliant red blossoms on this perennial are a magnet for hummers. Plants branch well and produce flowers on strong upright spikes from midsummer into early fall. Site this native in full sun to part shade. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 20 to 24 inches tall by 12 to 14 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 6-10. If you prefer pink flowers, look for ‘Starship Rose’ cardinal flower.
Bee balm, also known as Oswego tea, explodes with floral fireworks in summer. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds and make a terrific addition to the summer vase. Plants grow best in full sun to part shade with consistently moist soil. Bee balm comes in a variety of plant sizes and colors, including lavender, pink and bright purple. Rabbit- and deer-resistant plants grow 12 to 36 inches tall and 14 to 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-9. Good vase companions for bee balm: anise hyssop, coreopsis, zinnia and garden phlox.
Bergenia stages a multi-season color show in a part shade to full sun spot. Cool seasons deepen leaves to brilliant red hues, and spring welcomes the arrival of bright pink blossoms that beckon hummingbirds. Leaves fade to green through summer, until fall frosts bring out red tones. Unlike other bergenia, ‘Flirt’ has small leaves that put blooms center stage. Deer-resistant, drought-tolerant plants grow 6 inches tall by 9 inches wide. Bergenia is evergreen in the Deep South, where winter color is strong. Hardy in Zones 4-9.
For beautiful blooms that can’t be overlooked, plant ‘Duchess Blue & White’ torenia (Torenia fournieri ‘Duchess Blue & White’. Also known as wishbone flower, this pretty annual makes a striking filler in containers or edging along a planting bed. Plants grow 6 inches tall and up to 10 inches wide. Pinch out growing tips on young plants to increase branching, which means more flowers. Look for torenia that opens blossoms in hues of pink, lavender, yellow and white. ‘Duchess’ torenia has been specifically developed to flower strongly in full shade.
Pure white blooms of ‘Whirlwind’ Japanese anemone blend easily into any full sun to part shade spot in the garden. Blossoms open from late summer through fall. Each bloom measures 2 to 3 inches across and stands atop tall stems that make a great addition to fall bouquets. Anemone leaves appear in late spring, making them a perfect partner for spring bulbs because anemone leaves help hide dying bulb foliage. Look for varieties with pink blooms, too. Deer- and rabbit-resistant plants grow 36 to 48 inches tall by 24 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Clematis breeders are working to develop smaller plants that adapt well to containers and small gardens. Tekla Garland clematis delivers. This pretty vine opens 4- to 5-inch-wide flowers non-stop from early summer through fall. Blossoms boast a reddish-pink hue that shifts as individual flowers age. Plants tend to be bushy and are ideal for growing in containers on a pot size tuteur. Tuck into a spot in light shade to full sun for best flowering. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 inches above soil. Vines grow 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) is a buffet of color and activity in the garden, beckoning all kinds of pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies and bumblebees. This bloomer kicks off the flower show in midsummer, ultimately sending up multiple flowers from a single stem. It makes a great addition to a bouquet, lasting a week or more in a vase. Bee balm comes in a host of colors, including pink, lavender, purple and red shades. Choose varieties that have good powdery mildew resistance. Look for varieties from short to this average size ‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm, which grows 36 to 48 inches tall by 18 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
False hydrangea earns its name because it unfurls flowers that resemble lacecap hydrangea blooms. This variety is sold as Rose Sensation (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Minsens’) because the large petals (actually known as tepals) offer a deep, rose pink. Flowers appear in June and July. False hydrangea vine is a good choice for a part sun to part shade location—it’s often used in a woodland garden setting or north-facing garden. It’s a vigorous vine that’s well suited for trailing across a pergola or blanketing an arch with color. Vines grow 40 to 50 feet high and 6 to 9 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
When clematis flowers fade, they form quirky mophead seedheads that look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story. Each individual stem in the mophead holds a seed at its base. As the seedheads mature, the mop “strings” become fuzzy. Clematis seedheads made a wonderful addition to dried flower creations. This clematis is ‘Rouge Cardinal,’ a beautiful large-flowered pink-hued bloomer. This clematis grows best in full sun. The 5- to 7-inch flowers shift to purple tones when plants receive more shade. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 inches above soil. Vines grow 10 to 12 feet tall and up to 4 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 3 to 10.
A classic native wildflower, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) brings a steady stream of color to gardens all summer long. It’s a hearty plant, withstanding full sun, drought and poor soil of all sorts (clay, rocky, shallow). Plant breeders have worked to improve this flower powerhouse by expanding blossom color and form. The result? You can find (no longer purple) coneflower plants in a rainbow of shades, including red, gold, white, orange and pink. This variety is PowWow Wildberry, which unfurls vivid rose-purple blooms. Coneflowers are deer- and rabbit-resistant. Purple coneflower grows 24 to 60 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Some newer varieties grow shorter. Hardy in Zones 3-8. Good vase companions for purple coneflower: Oriental or Asiatic lily, Russian sage, catmint, hosta and gas plant.