Transitioning Gardens – Plants for Fall 

Hi everyone! My name is Mary Wojcik; I’ve spent the last decade and a half working with native plants and ecological restoration practices. I’m happy to join the Horticulture Staff here at Wellfield!

Now that Labor Day has passed, many of us feel ready to wind down from the high energy of summer and prepare for the shorter, cooler days of fall. As summer blossoms fade and edges start to yellow, there are plenty of plants ready to fill in the gaps and add longevity to the landscape design. These plants can be added to the formal landscape for year-round appreciation or used as “filler” to replace fading annuals early/mid-September. Here are a few fall favorites chosen with color, texture, height, and longevity in mind, and links to some of my favorite websites to learn more about each. And of course, as a native plant person, I must add a few species to the mix!

Asters and Solidago spp

Native Asters and Goldenrod offer a ton of fall color in a native or more formal landscape. There are several species to choose from, as well as “nativars” hybridized with ornamental varieties. Be sure to choose species based on the conditions and space available in the garden. Here in the Children’s Garden and the English Cottage Garden, the Solidago is in full bloom, with the Asters coming in right behind!

In praise of weeds – Ellis Hollow


Sedums have something to add all year! The unique texture of both the leaves and flowers adds interest, as well as a variety of non-fading color. Sedums can be larger specimen plants or smaller varieties used as ground cover. Sedums can be found throughout Wellfield Gardens.

Autumn Joy Sedum: A Gardener’s Guide To Fall-Blooming Stonecrop

Grasses and Sedges

Grasses and sedges are well known for providing fall and winter color and texture. Ornamental grasses, such as Karl Foerster, maidenhair grass, and bottlebrush grass are staples in many gardens, including our Water Celebration Garden. Native grasses for fall include Big Bluestem, Switchgrass, and Prairie Dropseed. Leaving grasses up for the fall and winter provides shelter and food for birds and insects. Sedges have a wide variety of habitat types, from Oak sedge for dry, semi-shaded woods to palm sedge for rain gardens.

13 Types of Colorful Ornamental Grass for Fall


Ninebark is beautiful in both native and cultivar form! Native ninebark features heavily peeling bark with bright green leaves. Cultivars of ninebark range from purple to red to yellow leaves with varying bark types. Check out the purple-leaved cultivars in the Event Garden. 

Ninebark Shrub – How to Grow & Care for Physocarpus | Garden Design

Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Oak Leaf Hydrangea is native to the Southeastern United States, with plenty of hybridized “nativars” to choose from. Wellfield displays some big, beautiful oak leaf hydrangeas throughout the property, most notably in the Event Garden entrance. 

Growing Oakleaf Hydrangeas – Tips On Hydrangea Care And Maintenance

Don’t forget that mums, ornamental kale, and various autumn bulbs (such as Autumn crocus) can be used for short-season interest. These work great in containers, or to take over for tired spring annuals. We’ll have our fall display ready towards the end of the month!

Thanks again everyone,


2 thoughts on “Transitioning Gardens – Plants for Fall 

  1. Kathryn Elizabeth Mow

    Mary, Welcome to WBG. We are so fortunate to have you and your wonderful knowledge and experience. We look forward to meeting you soon as my husband and I love volunteering as part of the hort team.
    Kathy and Mark Mow

  2. Pingback: Home-Grown Ornamentals  « Wellfield Botanic Gardens

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