Fall Planting with Native Plants

Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition' with Cotoneaster, Agave and Oputia.

Bouteloua 'Blonde Ambition' Ornamental Grass contrasts firey fall foliage.

By establishing your native plants in the fall, they will be larger and bloom more robustly during next year’s growing season than the same plant planted next spring.

By David Salman, Chief Horticulturalist and Founder of High Country Gardens

For gardeners in USDA zones 7 through 11 where the summers are hot and the winters mild, fall planting is the best time to plant.  In these areas, the number of days between spring and the searing heat of summer is far too short for plants to establish deep roots before the heat settles in.

Before we discuss native plants, I think it is important that we understand the term. I define a native plant as:

  1. A species native to North America (from Panama north to Alaska and Canada)
  2. A native plant hybrid (when pollen travels from one native species to another and seed is set, the seedlings are hybrids between two different species. This is a native hybrid.)
Helianthus maximiliana 'Santa Fe'
Helianthus maximilian'Santa Fe'

There are some pretty passionate native plant purists that will say that North America is too large a region to define a “native plant” for their garden. However, many native plants are widely distributed and don’t consider political boundaries when establishing themselves in habitat. While some don’t consider hybrids to be native, we feel confident idenifying native hybrids as "native," since many native plants will hybridize with each other in nature when their ranges overlap (This happens often and with no input from a human. It’s part of the evolutionary process, after all!) 

Many gardens don’t have enough fall flowers, and that’s a big shame. There are many perennials that color the late season garden beyond the boring Big Box standards such as flowering cabbage and garden mums. Must we Americans be so homogenous such that gardens across our huge, diverse geography all look the same?

Make your fall garden different with favorite late summer and fall blooming native perennials!

Featuring bright colors, beautiful flowers, and plenty of nectar for pollinators.

     Perennials

  1. Santa Fe Maximilian’s Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana ‘Santa Fe’)
  2. ‘Perfect Pink’ Phlox  (Phlox nana ‘Perfect Pink’)
  3. ‘Shimmer’ Evening Primrose  (Oenothera fremontii ‘Shimmer’)
  4. Maraschino Bush Sage (Salvia hybrid)- best for fall planting in zones 6 and warmer
  5. Furman’s Red’ Texas Bush Sage (Salvia greggii)- best to plant  in zones 6 and warmer
  6. Prairie Sage  (Salvia azurea)
  7. Beebalm  (Monarda species and cultivars)
  8. ‘Dark Violet’ hybrid Skullcap  (Scutellaria ‘Dark Violet’)
  9. ‘First Snow’ Aster  (Aster ericoides ‘First Snow’)
  10. ‘Golden Torch’ Goldenrod (Solidago sp. Wichita Mountains)
  11. Orange Carpet® Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii Orange Carpet)
  12. ‘Ava’ Hummingbird Mint (Agastache hybrid)

     Shrubs and Vines

  1. Honeysuckle Vine  (Lonicera sempervirens  cultivars)
  2. Silver Leaf Rabbit Brush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus)
  3. New Mexico Privet (Forestiera neomexicana)

     Ornamental Grasses

  1. ‘Blonde Ambition’ Blue Grama Grass  (Bouteloua gracillis ‘Blonde Ambition’)



Shop Native Plants

  1. Pink and White Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks, Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks, Red Rocks Hybrid Beardtongue

    Penstemon Red Rocks (Beardtongue) is a superb hybrid variety that blooms most of the summer with large rose-pink flowers. The plants are vigorous and have attractive glossy green fol...

    Learn More
    Red Rocks Penstemon Red Rocks Hybrid Beardtongue Penstemon mexicali Red Rocks
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $10.99 Sale $9.89
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Penstemon Red Rocks (Beardtongue) is a superb hybrid variety that blooms most of the summer with large rose-pink flowers. The plants are vigorous and have attractive glossy green foliage. A 1999 Plant Select winner. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
  2. Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection

    The Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection features three native perennial favorites to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These Monarda are easy-to-grow, deer and rabbit resistant, and d...

    Learn More
    Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection (Monarda)
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $102.99 Sale $92.69
    Per Collection of 6
    The Worry-Free Bee Balm Collection features three native perennial favorites to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. These Monarda are easy-to-grow, deer and rabbit resistant, and developed for disease resistance. Red, raspberry, and lavender-pink flowers add texture and color to your garden, and will naturalize over time. Glossy, aromatic foliage will look great all season. Collection of six plants.
  3. Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise Close Up

    Zauschneria latifolia Woody‚s Peach Surprise is a low-growing form of Fire Chalice flowering with light, peach-pink flowers, an unusual color in this genus of orange and scarle...

    Learn More
    Woody's Peach Surprise Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria) Woody's Peach Surprise Hummingbird Trumpet (Fire Chalice) Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $12.99 Sale $11.69
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Zauschneria latifolia Woody's Peach Surprise is a low-growing form of Fire Chalice flowering with light, peach-pink flowers, an unusual color in this genus of orange and scarlet bloomers. This perennial colors the garden in late summer and early fall.
  4. Western Native Penstemon Collection

    Our Western Native Penstemon Collection will brighten your garden with jewel-toned blooms from mid-spring to early summer. A favorite of hummingbirds, Penstemons are low-maintenance ...

    Learn More
    Western Native Penstemon Collection Western Native Penstemon Collection
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $138.99 Sale $125.09
    Per Collection of 12
    Our Western Native Penstemon Collection will brighten your garden with jewel-toned blooms from mid-spring to early summer. A favorite of hummingbirds, Penstemons are low-maintenance native wildflowers with abundant blooms, and these four native cultivars are favorites for Western gardens. They’re deer and rabbit resistant, and love hot, dry growing conditions, so they’re an easy-to-grow addition to rock gardens and challenging sunny sites that need a pop of color to attract pollinators. Collection of 12 plants.