Best Perennials for Late Summer Color


When is your perennial garden at its best? Most gardeners would say late May through July—a glorious but short 8 weeks. But by August, those plants have usually stopped blooming and are starting to look pretty tired.

To overcome this late season slump, make sure your garden includes some perennials for late summer — plants that don’t begin blooming until August and September. Read on to learn about nine easy and reliable favorites.



These tough, North American natives have daisy-like blossoms with prominent cones, and come in colors ranging from yellow and orange to deep red. The flowers appear in clusters across the top of the plant and this makes them extra showy.

Helenium forms an upright clump and typically stands about 36” tall. Plant in full sun to avoid the need for staking. Look for varieties such as ‘The Bishop‘ and ‘Moorheim Beauty‘.



Commonly known as coneflower, this is another rugged and reliable plant that’s native to North America. Echinacea may start blooming in late July, but if you deadhead the flowers and fertilize the plants in midsummer, they will continue blooming into September.

The flowers attract bees and butterflies, and as it gets later in the season, finches and other songbirds love snacking on the seed cones. Plant the native species or cultivars such as ‘Magnus’ and ‘White Swan’.


Some clematis flower just once each summer, but there are others that will rebloom in late summer and early fall. These modern, reblooming clematis include Blue Light, Ramona and Patricia Ann Fretwell.

If you have enough space for a relatively large climber, consider planting Clematis terniflora, also known as sweet autumn clematis. This vigorous vine has leathery, dark green leaves and produces clouds of fragrant, creamy white blossoms in late August.


Japanese Anemone

These graceful, buttercup-like flowers, have pearly buds and dark, wiry stems. The plants grow about 3 feet tall and prefer partial shade. Choose single or double flowers, in white or soft pink – all are lovely and make good cut flowers.

When grown in rich, fertile soil, anemones can spread by runners. Give this plant room to move or be prepared to pull some of the runners to keep it in bounds.



Pollinators count on these native perennials for late summer nectar and pollen. Thanks to plant breeders, gardeners can choose from many different sizes and colors of asters. Some grow no more than a foot tall, while others can reach 4 feet.

Asters usually have yellow or orange centers and a fringe of colorful petals that may be white, lavender, purple, blue, pale pink or magenta. Plant them in well-drained soil and full sun.


Chrysanthemums are go-to perennials for late summer color. There are several ways to use them in your perennial garden. The first is to plant time-tested varieties that will bloom year after year, such as ‘Sheffield Pink’ and ‘White Bomb’.

To get the widest selection of flower colors and sizes, order young plants by mail and add them to your garden in spring. They will bulk up over the summer and be ready to bloom by fall. You can also plan to purchase potted mums for adding last minute color to flower beds and planters.


Russian Sage

This carefree perennial gets off to a slow start and is barely noticeable until early July. But at the end of the summer, Perovskia’s plumes of lavender-blue flowers are impossible to miss. The plant’s grey foliage is a perfect complement. Russian sage is long-lasting, drought-tolerant, and both deer and rabbit-resistant. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil.



Upright sedums are essential perennials for late season color and texture. Most popular of all is the cultivar Autumn Joy, loved for its succulent, pale green foliage and broccoli-like flower heads. The flowers open pink and age to deep brick red. Newer varieties offer burgundy or variegated foliage, and flowers that are brighter or darker in color. Sedums should be planted in full sun.



Better known as black-eyed Susan, this native wildflower has golden-yellow petals and chocolate brown centers. You can choose from a number of different rudbeckia species and cultivars, in heights ranging 1 to 6 feet. The most common is rudbeckia hirta, which is generally about 2 feet tall and ideal for perennial gardens.

August and September can be some of the most beautiful months of the year. Plant some of these perennials for late summer and celebrate the changing of the seasons!