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More than mums

Choose from a variety of fall-blooming perennials and add a splash of color to complement autumn’s brilliant show

Just because it’s September doesn’t mean the gardening season is over. It’s time to bring more color to the landscape. Mums are considered a staple in the fall, but there are many other options. Asters are a classic, Nippon Daisy is amazing in mild climates, and fall-blooming Toad Lilies will give your shady spots some color.

Justin Hancock is a horticulturist with Costa Farms. He says a tough-as-nails perennial groundcover called “Lead Plant” is a real delight.

"It has sky-blue flowers that go like August-September time frame. And then one really remarkable thing about it is in the autumn, the foliage turns red, and so you get the fall color from the leaves and in that in-between period, you also get to enjoy that beautiful rich, red foliage against the last sky-blue flowers," says Hancock. "It is really drought tolerant, really low-maintenance once it goes in."

A lot of people don’t think about it, but fall-blooming bulbs are another option for color. One of Hancock’s favorites is called “Crocus Speciosus”.

"Just like the spring crocus it pops up, it has beautiful cup-shaped flowers for a week, maybe two, and then it pops back down. If you want something bigger, showier, there’s a plant called “Colchicum”. And colchicum is like a crocus on steroids, it’s maybe 5-6 times bigger. It has a big, pink flower," says Hancock. "There’s a classic variety called “Water Lily” that has double flowers, and those are fun because they just pop up out of nowhere, you get to enjoy those blooms, and then they disappear again."

The airy blue flowers and silvery foliage of Russian Sage provides a contrast to all the warm autumnal shades. Sweet Autumn Clematis is a fast-growing, aggressive climbing vine with fragrant, white flowers at the end of the season.

Find more tips for adding color to your fall garden pallette

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