Morning is my favorite time to walk through the nurseries at Rainbow Gardens. The gorgeous sunshine (not yet hot) streams through the plants and creates an ethereal atmosphere. In the pleasing morning weather, I can forget about the heat and drought of summer and be reminded that cooler weather WILL arrive and I get excited about enjoying my favorite fall flowering plants.
Great Flowering Plant Options for Fall in San Antonio
These flowering perennials spread across a wide area; I think you get a great flower bang for your buck! You want to give these plants room to stretch their limbs to maximize their flowering potential. If you fall in love but really need a smaller size, you can also pot most of these up and contain their size somewhat, enjoying the flowers in container gardens.
- Duranta: The amount of butterfly activity the flowers on the weeping foliage that this perennial can bring in is astounding. Butterflies go crazy for the pendulous purple blooms, and other pollinators are big fans of them too!
- Duranta is a root hardy perennial in south Texas, zone 9, but during extreme cold winters you may want to offer some winter protection. Can grow to 12′-15′ at maturity, depending on how often you prune it (only need occasionally for shaping and keeping a more dense form).
- Flowers best in full sun but the plant is also tolerant of shade. Water deeply and thoroughly (especially in extended periods of drought). At least 1″ of water needed per week, or flowers will burn out.
- Hummingbird Bush: I love it! My Flame Acanthus always seems to offer up flowers right when the summer heat is taking a toll on many of my other plants. The 3 loyal hummers that always show up at my house are sure happy to see them at this time. Vibrant flowers that look like tons of little orange-red flames pop out all over this plant summer to frost. The hummingbird bush is also a host to the Crimson Patch butterfly.
- While the Flame Acanthus only grows to about 3′-5′ at maturity, the reason I have it listed under the “spreading” category is that it can readily drop seeds and grow volunteers in your garden. Personally, I love free plants, but if have a very structured garden, you might find yourself pulling up quite a few seedlings.
- The hummingbird bush is a wonderful drought tolerant plant that can also root survive cold temps you’d expect as far a north Texas. It takes to shearing very well, and each shear produces more flowers.
- Gregg’s Blue Mist: This one really spreads, so make sure you’ve got the space, or plant it in containers, or it will invade other beds. I have a huge area in my rock garden that I allow Gregg’s Blue Mist to take off. The reason being is because it is one of the BEST Monarch and Queen butterfly attracting plants. You’ll walk past your patch of puffy blue flowers and the whirl of butterfly wings is sure to surround you! Make sure to shear these back late summer to encourage fresh blooms for the pollinator migration in fall.
- Chartreuse green foliage is topped with powderpuff, baby-blue flowers that will bloom spring to frost. Spreads by roots continuously, but only grows as tall as about 1.5′ at maturity.
- Plant in sun to part shade, Gregg’s Blue Mistflower is a native plant that is drought tolerant once established, but you’ll get the best flowers with regular watering.
- Fireworks Gomphrena: This is one of my absolute favorite flowering plants. I love, love, love this one. The problem is that sometimes they are hard to find. (Pssst…contact Laura Jarvis of The Butterfly Landing, she grows these and brings them up to Rainbow Gardens from time to time. Bet she’d grow one for you!) These are perhaps some of the most cheerful flowers you’ll find. These flowers, even with the intense summer drought this year, have continuously been popping flowers. The picture below shows these at the end of summer and they still look pretty darn good!
- The dark green foliage on Fireworks gomphrena quickly creates a 1.5′ dense mat that produces long, skinny (but sturdy) 2′-4′ stems topped with flowers that look like hot-pink, fiber-optic globes, or, fireworks!
- Plant in full sun, for a full flower show! Gomphrena works well all over the garden. It can be interspersed throughout perennial gardens with both lower or taller growing plants. Even though it could be considered tall or wide, it is quite and airy plant so it can be place anywhere. Put it somewhere you can really admire its unique flowers.
Although it’s really hard for me to pick favorites when it comes to flowers, these four flowering beauties turn on the charm. They offer A LOT of flowers, which is a priority for me. They offer nectar to the pollinators and some are host plants, and they bloom through many seasons, with fall being my favorite.
All of these would look amazing mixed in with other favorite fall flowering perennials and annuals like: Salvia Greggii (you just can’t go wrong with these), Texas lantana (the bright orange flowers would make an outstanding contrast to the blues and purples mentioned above), Mexican Bush Sage (fall was made for it), annuals like pentas, zinnia, marigolds and more!
Fall offers many of our San Antonio perennials another chance to shine. If you already have some of these perennials and have never sheared them back before fall, try it! Shear back your flowering perennials by 1/3 around the middle of this month, offer them fertilizer and a long, deep drink of water and they are going to reward you (and the pollinators) with gorgeous flowers for fall.
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy