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Perennials for Fall Color

echinacea cone-fections milkshake fall color

When you think of fall color in your garden or selling fall color to your customers – do perennials come to mind?

They should!

Some coneflowers have excellent fall color. Echinacea Cone-fections™ ‘Milkshake’ has brilliant fall foliage. Not only does it look great all summer, but it feeds the birds with its bountiful seeds, and then – to top it off – it has brilliant spaghetti squash-yellow fall color.

What’s not to love about a plant named Milkshake anyway? Not only is it my all-time favorite coneflower, but it has incredible fall color. It’s quite possibly coneflower perfection. This could be the best double white echinacea for the mid-border. Milkshake is “regular” sized. It’s not tall, it’s not dwarf, it’s just the right size for all you coneflower traditionalists out there.

Blooms are held high on strong, sturdy stems and they do not age until fall. It’s as if they are fake flowers. Milkshake grows 36-40 inches tall and 24-30 inches wide.  It has proven hardy to USDA zone 5 and grows well from Vermont to North Carolina, from Minnesota  to Oklahoma and Texas.  It’s one versatile, hardy coneflower and we are proud to have it in our Cone-fections™ line.

The plant is also very sturdy and strong. Each mature plant holds 40-50 blooms (the same ones since early June…) high with great confidence and no sign of flopping. The blooms are large and fully double, and they are almost true white, with a hint of french vanilla milkshake-y-ness. Milkshake is one of the most asked about plants in the Massachusetts trial garden.  People stop and ask what it is, and if they can take some seed all summer long.

Read more about Milkshake here.

What other perennials have great fall color?  heucherella infinity, plants nouveau, purple leaved heucherella

How about heucheras (coral bells), tiarellas (foam flowers) and their hybrid cousins heucherellas (foamy bells)?  Some of them have brilliant fall color, like our Heucherella ‘Infinity’. Not only does it bloom until – well – it’s STILL blooming, so I’m not really sure when it will stop – hence the name – Infinity, but the chocolatey-purple foliage turns maroon,orange and pink when the temps drop.  Heucherella Infinity fall color

This new foamy bell – a hybrid of a coral bell ( Heuchera sp. ) and a foam flower (Tiarella sp.) is sure to please even the most discerning gardener. From the breeding program at Ab-Cultivars in the Netherlands, we bring you this amazing new heucherella that blooms to infinity and beyond.

Infinity has large, dark, chocolate colored, velvety leaves that work together to form a mounding, bushy perennial, making a statement in any garden. The deeply lobed, matte finished leaves look as if they’ve been covered in dark chocolate cocoa powder. Creamy pink buds open to cream colored flowers on two foot spikes that bloom continuously from the end of May to late fall.

Read more about Infinity here.

What else? Many of the new litShic=zaCHYRIUM PRAIRIE MUNCHKIN FALL COLORtle blue stems selections on the market have great fall color too, like our Schizachyrium ‘Prairie Munchkin’.

If you are looking for a native, ornamental grass that won’t get too tall, takes poor soils with little to no organic matter and loves to be dry?  Then this new selection is for you.  Prairie Munchkin was selected from tons of seedlings by Donovan Boehm of Boehm’s Garden Center in west, central IL.  Don selected it for the steel blue new growth, the perfect size for median and municipal plantings that require plants to be 3′ tall or smaller and for the fact that it does not flop in late summer or even winter, like most little bluestems do.

Prairie Munchkin even takes good garden soil – and it STILL does not flop.  That’s amazing since most little bluestems thrive in poor soils.  Schizachyrium Prairie Munchkin fall close

Prairie Munchkin is the perfect native alternative to the highly overused Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’. This new sturdy grass will make a perfect 3′ tall hedge.  Use it in naturalistic plantings in a border or mass it in a hedge row for a very minimalist, modern look, Prairie Munchkin is certainly not “small” on uses or personality.

The steel blue foliage persist throughout the heat of the summer, then the flowers appear and the foliage slowly turns a shade of strawberry blonde, then to shades of tan, blue and deep maroon for fall, finally settling in for a long winter’s nap with a bright shade of tawny for the remainder of winter.

Read more about Prairie Munchkin here. 

There’s lots of perennials with fall color or really cool seed heads that make the autumnal garden more beautiful, so don’t forget about them when designing or planning or selling for all season color.


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