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50 fall flowers that bloom in October

  • 50 fall flowers that bloom in October

    When fall color is mentioned, it's usually a reference to the changing colors of leaves. It’s spring and summer that are supposed to be about flowers. But in fact, October is a time of glorious beauty for many plants, from wildflowers that naturally bloom in autumn to cultivars of garden favorites that have been selected to flower until the first frost.

    Those seeking fall color for their gardens will find choices for a wide range of conditions. Whether what’s needed is a plant that is drought tolerant, doesn’t mind soggy conditions, or isn’t fussy about soil, there are possibilities that flower in October.

    Along with low-maintenance native wildflowers, there are classic garden plants like roses and Sweet William. Flowers like turtlehead and Brown-eyed Susan are North American natives that bloom in this season, as do exotic transplants that have become common and familiar, like the Rose of Sharon. (A few of the latter that can be invasive and should be planted with care are noted.)

    October flowers can be found on plants that range in size, shape, and growing habits: creeping or tall perennials, flowering shrubs, and even some like crape myrtle that can be grown as trees in some locations. Fragrant choices include lavender, Russian sage, butterfly bush, and some fall-blooming roses.

    Many of these plants are attractive to birds, including hummingbirds, and to bees and butterflies, so they provide a haven for native wildlife and pollinators, as well as beauty. Some are resistant to the problems that wildlife can present to gardeners, in that they are unappetizing to deer and rabbits.

    For this list of 50 flowers that bloom in October, in alphabetical order by scientific name, bloom times included are based on the 2018 Missouri Botanical Garden’s bloom times resource.

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  • Azure monkshood

    - Scientific name: Aconitum carmichaelii 'Arendsii'
    - Bloom period: September to October

    This late-flowering variety of monkshood, like its relatives, is named after the shape of its flower, which resembles the headwear of a medieval monk. Relatively trouble free as far as problems with pests or disease, it does have one feature to be careful of: all parts of the plant are poisonous. It’s essential to wear gloves and cover any wounds or abrasions before working with it and avoid planting near vegetable gardens or in areas frequented by children or pets.

  • Japanese anemone

    - Scientific name: Anemone hupehensis var. japonica
    - Bloom period: September to October

    This member of the buttercup family is native to China, but was cultivated in Japan for so long that it naturalized and was mistaken for a native. It prefers moist but well-drained conditions, with soil that neither dries out completely nor gets soggy with standing water. Slow to establish, but will spread and form colonies over time.

  • Tatarian aster

    - Scientific name: Aster tataricus 'Jindai'
    - Bloom period: September to October

    This tall, late-blooming purple aster looks good all the way up to the first frost. The “jindai” variety was first discovered at the Jindai Botanical Garden in suburban Tokyo. While some asters get leggy and need pruning in the summer to look their best, this one does well without it as long as it’s grown in full sun.

  • Butterfly bush (B. 'Lochinch')

    - Scientific name: Buddleja 'Lochinch'
    - Bloom period: August to October

    The butterfly bush, as it name suggests, is attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. This hybrid variety has lilac blue blossoms that make good cut flowers. It looks better planted in groupings than as a single specimen and is less winter hardy than its relatives, recommended only for USDA Zones 6-9.

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  • Butterfly bush (B. weyeriana)

    - Scientific name: Buddleja × weyeriana 'Honeycomb'
    - Bloom period: June to October

    This variety of the butterfly bush has fragrant yellow flowers with orange eyes that, yes, are attractive to butterflies. It does poorly with less than full sun or in wet conditions, and as another variety that can’t tolerate harsh winters, is recommended only for USDA Zones 6-9. It may die back to the ground in the colder parts of its range but that’s just as well, since it is more attractive when pruned back to the ground in late winter.

  • Bluebeard

    - Scientific name: Caryopteris incana 'Blue Myth'
    - Bloom period: September to October

    This flowering shrub has fragrant dark blue blossoms that lure butterflies and pollinators. It’s particularly attractive when planted in groups or as a low hedge and benefits from hard pruning, which can be done in early spring since it flowers on new growth. The genus name refers to its winged fruits: In Greek, karyon means “nut” and pteron, “wing.”

  • White turtlehead

    - Scientific name: Chelone glabra
    - Bloom period: August to October

    This native wildflower is found in most of the east of North America. It requires a moist environment with rich soil and is good for woodland and bog gardens and for edging ponds and streams. The name comes from the shape of the white flowers, which resemble a turtle’s head.

  • Golden aster

    - Scientific name: Chrysopsis mariana
    - Bloom period: August to October

    This aster is a native of the southeastern United States—the second part of its Latin name, mariana, means it’s from Maryland. In nature, it grows in all kinds of open, sunny areas, such as meadows and roadsides, especially where the soil is sandy. In the garden, it prefers well-drained soil, can tolerate a little shade, and can withstand drought once its well-established.

  • Golden Cross clematis

    - Scientific name: Clematis 'Golden Cross'
    - Bloom period: July to October

    Clematis is a flowering vine that in the garden is typically trained to climb up a structure such a trellis, arbor, or fence. It prefers to grow where the vines are in full sun but the roots are shaded and not allowed to dry out. This variety has yellow blooms and should be pruned to the ground in either fall or spring, since it flowers only on new growth.

  • Rooguchi clematis

    - Scientific name: Clematis 'Rooguchi'
    - Bloom period: May to frost

    This variety of clematis has deep purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and is useful in the garden for its tolerance of deer and rabbits. Bred in Japan, it’s a cross between vining and shrublike varieties, and needs to be tied to its support, since it’s unable to cling to things like the true vining types.

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