Best of the Fall Color Options

Looking for five or six plants that will be at their peaks between now and first frost?


Celosia (cockscomb): Crested and plume types are equally outstanding in fall. Plume types work wonderfully planted alongside crotons, ornamental peppers and other stars of autumn. Crested types put on showy displays. All can be cut, hung upside-down to dry, and used for winter floral arrangements.


Copper plant: These foliar stars of the summer get better and better as temperatures cool. Pale orange foliage changes to rich coppery-bronze.


Firebush: You and the hummingbirds have been enjoyed these all summer. Left in place for the fall, they will bloom more heavily at the same time that their leaves turn from coppery green to deep and intense rust.


Mexican bush sage: Most of our salvias bloom all summer long, but this one waits for the fall. There are several combinations of lavender, purple and white in the market, with mature heights ranging from 2 to 4 feet while blooming. Monarch butterflies love these plants.



Joseph’s coat: Several varieties are available. Some were in our grandmothers’ gardens. Others are newer introductions. All become showy as temperatures start to cool. They are grown for the foliage.


Hyacinth bean: Thomas Jefferson grew this plant at Monticello, and you can grow it, too. However, you’ll need to start in the spring, because this one vines and climbs over its supports. Contrasting with some of the other plants showcased here (with their rich orange leaves and flowers), this one turns deep Aggie maroon – leaves, stems, flowers and pods.


Ornamental peppers: There seem to be scores of these glorious little plants. Most have green leaves, but some have purple. Fruit colors range from yellow and orange to red and purple. Warning: teach the kids not to taste these. Many ornamental peppers are extremely hot. But they’re glorious in beds and pots.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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