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Fall Color in the Florida Landscape

Your landscape might start to look at little stressed after a harsh Florida summer, but there are some plants that will revive the landscape going into the fall months.  These plants will add some interest to your landscape with their unique characteristics.  Remember that even in Florida, there are many plants that will change color, produce berries, or flower only in the fall months.  The ten plants that we have listed are Florida-Friendly if they are installed following the right plant, right place principle.

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)
Goldenrod is a fall-flowering perennial that grows tall and stands out in any perennial garden. The yellow flowers cover the plant late summer through fall. Goldenrod will spread through the garden.  It looks nice against a fence, combined with other wildflowers, and combined with butterfly plants such as pentas and purple salvia.

Beach Sunflower (Helianthus debilis)
Beach Sunflower flowers continuously from spring through the winter months, making  it a good addition to a fall flower garden.  Beach sunflower is low-growing and will spread and readily re-seed itself in the garden.  Combine beach sunflower with ornamental grasses such as muhly grass for a beautiful fall landscape bed.

Cigar Flower

Cigar Flower. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension

Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea)
The orange flowers of the cigar plant are perfect for a fall flower garden.  Cigar plant will grow to about three feet tall and has dark green leaves.  Plant this flowering perennial in a butterfly garden as it attracts nectaring butterflies and hummingbirds.

Lion’s Tail (Leonotus leonurus)
Lion’s tail is another orange flowering plant for the fall garden. It will grow quite large, up to six feet tall and three feet wide.  Combine lion’s tail with ornamental grasses, salvias, evergreen shrubs and butterfly plants.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
In the fall, the bright purple berries of the beautyberry stand out in any garden.  Beautyberry is a deciduous shrub that will grow to about six feet tall.  This weepy, informal shrub can be grown in sun or shade gardens, woodland gardens, natural areas, or in bird and butterfly gardens.  Combine beautyberry with evergreen shrubs.

Beautyberry shrub

American Beautyberry. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension

Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Muhly grass is one of the most attractive fall-flowering plants in central Florida.  The grass produces showy purple/pink blooms that rise above the grass.  Muhly grass is drought-tolerant and only grows two to three feet tall and wide.  Combine muhly grass with goldenrod, beach sunflower, and other perennials.  It is also attractive when combined with evergreen shrubs.

Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
This large shrub grows as an understory shrub, so it does the best in shady areas under trees.  The large oak-like leaves of the oakleaf hydrangea will turn red to purple in the fall and the large white flowers are also showy during the fall months.  They start out as white flowers and turn to pink.  This shrub will grow six to eight feel tall and wide, and is beautiful when combined with evergreen shrubs such as azaleas, and grown under oaks and pine trees.

Photo of a white flowering oakleaf hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County

Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha)
The purple blooms of the mexican sage start in the early fall and will continue to cover the plant until it freezes back in the winter.  This large perennial can grow three to four feet tall and wide, so give it plenty of room to grow. The purple flowering plant looks beautiful when combined with ornamental grasses, yellow-flowering perennials, and evergreen shrubs such as coontie cycads.

Forsythia Sage (Salvia madrensis)
Everything about the forsythia sage is big.  The plant can grow up to eight feet tall and the blooms can get up to a twelve inches long.  Forsythia sage will bloom from fall until frost.  The plant will freeze back to the ground in the winter in central Florida.  The yellow flowering plant is attractive when combined with purple flowering plants, pentas, ornamental grasses and blanket flower.

Silver-Leafed Aster

Silver-Leafed Aster. Photo credit: Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County

Silver-Leaved Aster (Pityopsis graminifolia)The silver-leaved aster is a low-growing perennial.  The silver-green foliage is a nice contrast to the yellow flowers of the plants.  This is a tough native plant that can be combined with other wildflowers and perennials, ornamental grasses and native drought-tolerant shrubs.

Look for these plants at your local nursery to add some fall color to your landscape and if you are looking for more fall-flowering plants, contact our Plant Clinic and we can give you some recommendations for central Florida yards.  Call (863) 519-1041 or email us.

2 Comments on “Fall Color in the Florida Landscape

  1. I have an oakleaf hydrangea growing in my yard and several “pups’ have popped up surrounding parent plant. Can I did these up and plant elsewhere? If so, what are the guidelines? Thanks in advance for information.. Second, what type of forsythia will grow in Zone 9?

    • You sure can repot and replant your oakleaf hydrangea.

      As far as forysthia, there are none that will grow here in Florida, but there are some other plants that can give you that same look.
      Firecracker plant will have that weeping habit and has small red flowers. If you are missing the yellow forsythia blooms, maybe try senna or thryallis.