12 Best Plants For an Autumn Garden

By   | Last Updated :   December 23, 2021 | Filed In :   Garden Style Ideas

Are you looking for some plants that will keep your garden looking colourful far into autumn? If this is your goal, you might consider a few ornamental plants that prefer to flower late in the season. Here are a few striking autumn plants to consider.

plants for autumn garden

Autumn garden by Linnaea Mallette

Plants for autumn colour in the garden

Garden plants for autumn colour aren’t that difficult to find. Some plants even contrast nicely with the natural red and brown colour of falling leaves. If your garden is your sanctuary, you might want to keep it blooming for as long as possible. Here are a few things to keep in mind:


It’s important to do some research before you buy a plant. Some plants prefer to be planted in well-draining soil and full sun while others like moist soil and shade. Make sure you know what you’re looking for before you fall in love with a specific plant.

Flowering time

Very few plants still look nice when autumn comes around. To make sure the plants of your choice will prosper, check the flowering time before you buy.

Annual or perennial?

Some plants will bring you joy and then fade away, never to be seen again. Other plants will bring joy year after year as long as you don’t mistake the plant for dead and remove it in winter. You will need to decide if you want to plant anew yearly or prefer a plant that returns yearly.

If you’re still a bit confused, take a look at our plant suggestions below to give you some inspiration.

Autumn garden plants

For unbeatable autumn beauty, consider one of the following plants:

1. Sweet alyssum

Sweet alyssum is a great plant for autumn gardens. The white flowers contrast beautifully with the reds and browns of autumn. This plant is often used in borders, planters and hanging baskets.

Make sure to plant sweet alyssum in well-drained soil that retains some moisture. Alyssums are quite hardy and can tolerate mild frosts. After flowering, they reseed and return the following year so you won’t have to do much after the initial planting.

sweet alyssum

By Pharaoh Hound at the English-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

2. Colchicum

Autumn blooming colchicums can create a brilliant display of flowers in your garden. These plants need an area with well-drained soil and full sun during the day.

Colchicum will produce seeds if left to do their thing. Make sure to mark the location of your bulbs, however since the foliage will naturally die back at the end of spring.


By Evelyn Simak, CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Goldenrod

Goldenrod has an array of fluffy yellow flowers that will brighten up your garden in no time. Sometimes considered a weed, goldenrod will grow just about anywhere. It’s really easy to care for and spreads easily. If properly controlled, it makes an excellent border plant.

This plant is also great for attracting insects like bees and butterflies to your garden.


By liz west – goldenrod, CC BY 2.0

4. Toad lily

Toad lilies are exotic plants that work well in borders, edges of walkways and in neutralised areas. Make sure to plant these stunning flowers somewhere you can appreciate their beauty close up.

These plants like moist, shady areas and do well planted in masses. They can also be planted along with other perennials that enjoy the same conditions.

toad lily

Credit: Pixabay

5. Echinacea

Echinacea, also known as the coneflower, is a very popular herbal plant worldwide. These stunning flowers are best known for the purple variety, but there’s a range of other bright colours available. They will quickly liven up your autumn garden and help to support any pollinators in the area.

These flowers contrast nicely if planted near pink, orange or yellow flowering plants. You can use them in your wildflower bed or as a border plant. They are very cold-resistant but need partial shade from the midday sun in hot summers.

purple cornflower

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) by Joshua Mayer

6. Flowering kale

Flowering kale is grown for its colourful leaves. These plants are often grown in window boxes, along walking trails, in containers or in a rock garden. Despite being an ornamental plant, you can still eat it (although the leaves are bitter).

This plant grows a head in the first year and flowers in the second year. Not many people know this, so they treat it as an annual where, in fact, you can keep it as a biannual.

flowering kale

By Terren – Kale, CC BY 2.0

7. Maiden grass

Maiden grass is an ornamental plant, often used to spice up an autumn garden. There are many varieties of maiden grass and depending on the variety they can get very big. It’s best to use them as a background plant.

Maiden grass produces colourful pinnacles in late summer that turn into fluffy plumes in early winter. This plant looks great all year road and is quite easy to care for.

maiden grass

By Photo by David J. Stang – source: David Stang. First published at ZipcodeZoo.com, CC BY-SA 4.0

8. Chinese lantern

Chinese lantern prefers to be planted in a full sun location for the most brilliant flower display. It needs to be planted in well-draining soil that retains some moisture. This plant is mostly used either as background plants or container plants.

Chinese lantern is a fast-growing shrub that needs to be trimmed to look neat. These plants are a highlight for any autumn garden.

chinese lantern

Credit: Pixabay

9. Amaranthus

Amaranthus are generally easy to care for plants. They prefer well-draining soil and full sun to grow their best. Amaranthus flowers are very popular for drying as they retain their colours after being dried and treated.

There are quite a few amaranthus varieties to choose from with different colours and shapes, but all can be dried and used to decorate your home. If you want butterflies in your garden, this plant is a great choice.


Credit: Pixabay

10. Verbena

Verbena is a stunning plant that comes in a variety of colours. This plant can be used in containers, window boxes, hanging baskets or as a border for walking trails and flower beds. These are very easy to care for plants.

You might need to trim back trailing varieties if they start to take over containers and flowerbeds. Make sure they are planted in an area with full sun and well-drained soil. They don’t require a lot of watering, but supporting them during extended droughts is recommended.


Verbena bonariensis by Belgianchocolate

11. Wolfsbane

Wolfsbane is an ornamental herb that was used as a poison in ancient times. All parts of this plant contain toxins despite its very attractive appearance. Wolfsbane is becoming more popular of late due to its stunning blue or white flowers that remain until autumn.

This plant is typically used in the background or as a border plant due to its size. Wolfsbane prefers an area with moist soil and partial shade. The plant can be cut back in autumn as soon as it stops flowering.


Credit: Pxhere

12. Celosia

Celosia flowers come in a range of different colours and shapes. They also last a very long time. If you want to decorate your autumn garden, these plants are definitely the right way to go. Celosia flower varieties are best grown in a flower bed where they can be viewed from every angle.

They prefer to grow in well-draining soil with full sun. Celosia, unfortunately, doesn’t overwinter well so you might need to toss the plants after the blooms fade in winter. Frost usually kills any remaining plants as soon as winter sets in.


By Urban Jungle – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Final thoughts

Now that you have a bit more inspiration and a few ideas floating around, it’s time to make them a reality. Just remember to do your research first. If you need a plant for a full sun area, anything that loves shade won’t work. The same goes for shade plants planted in a full sun area.

Now go out there and buy your dream autumn garden plants.

Happy gardening!


What vegetables are good to plant in autumn?

The best vegetables to plant in autumn include asparagus, broad beans, garlic, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, peas, spring onions, and spinach. There are definitely more options out there, but these are the most popular.

What can I plant in autumn UK?

You can plant just about anything in autumn as long as you have the means to protect the plants in winter. Great plants for autumn include any winter crops and winter flowering plants like pansies.

12 best plants for an autumn garden

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