Falling for autumn plants

Features - Green Goods

Garden center managers share their favorite fall plants and why they stand out.

June 16, 2014

Diane St John

Retail store manager, Natureworks in Northford, Conn.

“I love Vernonia noveboracensis and so do the butterflies! Also the fall color of Amsonia is amazing. Joe Pye weed perennial mums are huge and pretty. The color palette of fall is the best! Shrub favorites include fothergilla, winterberry, itea and callicarpa. Aronia is another beautiful shrub. Red foliage and pretty hanging berries hang on for a while. We really promote fall planting at Natureworks.”


Joe Lutey

Retail manager at Wojo’s Greenhouse in Ortonville, Mich.

“My No. 1 go-to for fall color is the ‘Limelight’ hydrangea. I like it because it can be used as a backdrop that will also flower starting in July, and the flowers will hold until winter,” Lutey says, adding that he doesn’t prune his back until spring because the dried plant adds winter interest as well. “It is extremely cold hardy. It blooms pure white then transforms to light pink with green tints.” His other favorite is the ‘Pee Wee’ oakleaf hydrangea because of the stunning burgundy foliage it produces in autumn. One plant he’s excited about now and trialing in his own garden is the BloomStruck hydrangea from Baily Nurseries' Endless Summer Collection.


Dottie Warner

Garden center manager at Frazee Gardens in Brownsburg, Ind.

“I love coral bells in the fall. The heucherella/heuchera/tiarella groups are so similar. ‘Midnight Rose,’ ‘Berry Smoothie,’ and ‘Amethyst Mist,’ plus ‘Caramel,’ ‘Cinnamon Curls’ and ‘Southern Comfort’ all have done well in my mostly shade backyard west of Indianapolis. Their rich foliage colors outlasts so many blooms. I was concerned after our record-breaking winter, but they are all coming back.”


Photos: Limelight hydrangea: Proven Winners / Bloomstruck: Baily Nurseries / Aronia: Diane st john / 'Southern Comfort': Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder, photographer Charlotte Barre