Fall Color in the Garden with Native Plants

Fall is a wonderful time of the year for a gardener. Cool, crisp temperatures make outdoor work actually enjoyable. As I drove through the country this week, I couldn't help but love all the changing foliage colors along the roadside. Natural landscapes just come alive when temperatures drop.

What can we do to bring some of that color to our home garden? Many gardeners rush out to the garden center to purchase popular choices, but many of the available plants are so invasive that they should not be planted at all! We all should do a little research prior to purchasing new plants for the garden.

Native plants are superior to exotics in many ways, but the most important asset is that native plants will not overpopulate themselves to take over and choke out other plants. We should all choose native plants whenever possible.

I know I say it all the time, but my favorite of all plants is our native Oakleaf Hydrangea. Just as spectular in fall as in other seasons, Hydrangea quercifolia's large oak-shaped leaves change to a brilliant burgundy wine when autumn's cooler temperatures arrive.

Another native shrub guaranteed to attract attention is Virginia Sweetspire. Itea virginica is a native American plant that is available in several forms--all display vibrant foliage colors of wine, burgundy, or red in fall. Spring blooms are fragrant and loved by pollinators, but the foliage is usually the main reason this shrub is planted--it is simply breathtaking! (Moist soil is a requirement for this plant to thrive.)

Native Aster: Drought Tolerant Fall Blooming Perennials

Every year with the onset of cooler weather, gardeners in our area flock to the nearest garden center to purchase fall mums for our gardens. Why do we do that again, year after year? Because although perennials, mums don't always survive our tough summers. Some chrysanthemums planted in previous years are still around, but if every mum I'd ever planted was still alive, I'd have no room for anything else!

So, what's an alternative? Something that'll provide eye-catching fall color every single year without replanting every fall? (You know I have one, Honey!) Asters! Asters come in many colors and sizes, so there's one that's perfect for your garden.

My favorite right now is Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite.' Bright lavender daisy-like flowers with yellow centers show off in our roadside garden although we're still experiencing drought conditions. I'll be planting more this weekend.
Asters grow very well in our climate, loving hot, summer sun, and not minding our inconsistent winters.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-7.

Deer Resistant - Deer do not like the aromatic foliage!

Soil Requirement: Asters do well in just about any soil as long as well-drained.

Attracts butterflies.

Great cut flower.

With attributes like that, one might find it hard to believe that it's a native plant, but Aster oblongifolius is found on hillsides and cliffs here in the United States. You can't beat it for an easy care, drought tolerant plant in full sun.