15 Perennials You Can Plant This October

Thinking of putting some perennials in the ground this October? There are plenty of perennials you can plant, depending on your hardiness zone. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago looks at her favorite perennial plants to settle into your garden in the month of October.

october perennials

October is such a great month to put spring blooming perennials in the ground. I once heard a gardener describe October as a second chance at spring. Yes, you might be busy with the mundane tasks of cleaning up fallen leaves. But it is another great opportunity to add some perennials into your garden that will make your garden pop in the springtime!

When planting in October, you’ll need to pay attention to the weather in your area. You do not want to plant anything too close to a frost date. Not only will the frost damage your foliage, but in some areas it can be the beginning of when the ground starts to freeze. This will make it difficult for your plants to take up water and grow in the spring.

So, if you’ve decided that you want to continue planting into the fall, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve hand-picked a list of our favorite perennials that can still go into the ground in October. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

Allium

Close-up of a beautiful giant Allium plant against a blurred background. The flower has almost perfectly round umbrellas with a diameter of about 4-7 cm. In the center of the star-shaped and wine-red flowers are spectacular dark anthers located on purple stamens. In the background there are many blooming Allium flowers.
Allium is a delightfully beautiful flower consisting of many small flowers collected in a large ball.
Scientific Name: Allium spp.
  • Plant Size: 1-6 feet, species dependant
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Zone: 4-10

Allium is a flower we mentioned for September perennial planting, and this underrated flower can still be planted in October. Their beautiful blooms are a staple in many spring gardens. Many people are familiar with the large ‘Globemaster’ variety, but there are so many different varieties that are worth giving a try.

A great option is the ‘drumstick’ allium. Its flowers are a deeper reddish purple, and are smaller over all. Another cool species is ‘Schubertii’ which looks like a sea anemone. Give them a try. They make a massive statement, and are critter resistant.

Allium also spreads quite well, making it a budget-friendly perennial for those that want to stretch their budget.

Astilbe

Lots of Astilbe flowers blooming in the spring garden. The leaves are bright green, pinnate, glossy. Pink fragrant flowers are collected in diamond-shaped inflorescences 30 cm long. These flowers have a fluffy texture. All flowers have half-opened pink flowers at the top of the plant, and half-opened brown buds.
This interesting flower blooms in a variety of colors and makes a great addition to your fall garden.
Scientific Name: Astilbe spp.
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Partial Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring through Summer
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

There are not too many floriferous plants that will thrive in the shady spots of your garden. Astilbe is the exception to the rule. Coming in a variety of colors, astilbe blends in well into any garden space. Its leaves are fern like, while the spiked flowers poke up above them.

Some of the flowers are a bit tighter, while others are looser  and more wild looking. Scatter astilbe amongst hostas for pops of color, or use them as a border along a walkway. Astilbe is a low-maintenance perennial that will need minimal care through the spring once established.

Autumn Fern

Close-up of the autumn leaves of the Dryopteris erythrosora fern. Large copper-colored and green leaves resemble large feathers, as elongated veined leaves come from the main stem.
These hardy ferns have incredibly beautiful copper-colored foliage.
Scientific Name: Dryopteris erythrosora
  • Plant Size: 2 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Bloom Time: N/A
  • Plant Zone: 5-9

If you are looking for something to add depth to your garden, I would highly suggest adding ferns into the landscape. These sturdy and hardy ferns do not spread as rapidly or aggressively as some ferns do.

Their height means they could be used in a beautiful shade garden to provide a medium height backdrop to low growing perennials or annuals, or it could be planted in a woodland edge.

When the fronds appear in the spring they are a copper color, hence the nickname autumn fern. As they age they take on a traditional deep green that ferns typically wear.

Coral Bells

Close-up of colorful red coral bells, Heuchera sanguinea, growing in a garden on a sunny day. Small flowers in the form of bells are collected on stems. The background is green and slightly blurry.
Heuchera is a versatile perennial that produces small red bells on tall stems.
Scientific Name: Heuchera spp.
  • Plant Size: 1-2 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Another favorite perennial of mine is Heuchera, or coral bells. This is a very versatile perennial. You can add coral bells into your containers, use it as a border in the front of your perennial gardens, or tuck it into gaps in between your perennials.

However you decide to plant coral bells you will be very pleased. The foliage of coral bells ranges from green, to red, and deep purple with many variations in between. I recently planted ‘Green Spice’ in a partial shade garden, and it has grown tremendously and I love how the red veining adds depth to my space.

Crocus

Beautiful macro shot of purple spring crocuses (Crocus vernus) blooming with visible orange pollen in bright sunlight in early spring. This is a short, not higher than 10 cm, plant, with very narrow, linear leaves wrapped down on the sides and bell-funnel-shaped single flowers of purple color. The background is slightly blurred.
Crocuses come in purple, blue, white, and yellow.
Scientific Name: Crocus spp.
  • Plant Size: 6 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Winter- Early Spring, Fall
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Crocus flowers are often the first sign of spring in a garden, and infamously peak out through the last of the snow to put on their show. Crocus bulbs come in shades of purple, blue, white and yellow.

You can purchase a mixture of all the colors or individual colors on their own. There are also autumn blooming crocuses. Plant these bulbs according to package directions, as there are different size crocuses available, such as the giant crocus.

Plant crocus bulbs in the ground when you plant the rest of your spring bulbs, when the soil has cooled a bit but has not frozen.

Daffodil

Close-up of large yellow daffodils blooming in the park. Narcissus flower consists of a tubular perianth with six lobes, inside the perianth is a crown, and inside the crown, there are six stamens. Daffodils hold on strong green stems. The background is slightly blurred, consisting of many bright yellow daffodils.
In order for daffodils to bloom in spring, they must be planted in October.
Scientific Name: Narcissus spp.
  • Plant Size: 6-30 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun- partial sun
  • Bloom Time: Early Spring
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Daffodils are a classic spring blooming perennial. These bulbs have been hybridized to create some of the most beautiful flowers out there. You can find daffodils in the classic shades of yellow and white, but also peach.

All of these can be found in combination with other colors, or as double flowers. Planting a big swath of daffodil bulbs is an easy and sure fire way to have a happy spring garden. Plant your daffodil bulbs six inches down and happily wait for their arrival in the springtime.

Forsythia

Close-up of a branch with yellow flowers against a blue sky. A branch of blooming forsythia has ten bright yellow flowers consisting of 4 petals and yellow stamens in the center. The background is slightly blurred.
Forsythia is a flowering shrub that produces bright yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Forsythia spp.
  • Plant Size: 2-10 feet tall, species dependant
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – partial sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Zone: 5-8

Forsythia is an easy to grow flowering shrub that is tough and tolerant of many growing conditions. Plant forsythia shrubs in the fall and water them until the ground freezes. The result will be long arching branches of bright yellow flowers.

Once the flowers have passed the shrub will stay jam packed with leaves, making it a great option for a privacy screen. As the mature size of these shrubs varies differently be sure to check the plant tag to ensure you have enough room for the plant.

Leave them with their whimsically wild habit, or prune into a neater shape if that suits your garden better.

Foxtail Lily

Close-up of tall Foxtail Lily flowers. These flowers resemble a fox's tail due to their elongated shape and orange color. Enormous flower spikes bearing up to 800 tiny flowers whose petals are pale peach pink fading to white with contrasting orange stamens and a golden yellow central ridge. The background is green and slightly blurry.
Foxtail Lily produces tall orange or yellow flowers in spring.
Scientific Name: Eremurus robustus
  • Plant Size: 3-6 feet tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring or Early Summer
  • Plant Zone: 5-8

These tall flowers are easy to grow, and add whimsy to your garden. Foxtail lily, also known as eremurus, produces flowers that are similar to liatris but much taller. The flowers are typically orange or yellow, but there are a few pink varieties out there.

Plant these bulbs in the fall and wait for the show to start in the spring. There is nothing special about the foliage, and it fades before the flowers do so plant foxtail lilies in the back of a garden amongst other flowering perennials and shrubs. Be sure to allow them plenty of space, and do not cluster them too closely together.

Hydrangea

Close-up of beautiful hydrangea flowers of different varieties and shades of pink and blue. Hydrangea inflorescences are large, spherical, up to 30 cm in diameter, consisting of large flowers of 4-5 petal-shaped sepals of pink and blue flowers. Hydrangea leaves are oval, and large, with a sharp tip and slightly noticeable venation. One part of the shrub is in the shade, and the rest is in the sun.
October is a great time to plant hydrangeas so that they can happily survive the winter.
Scientific Name: Hydrangea spp.
  • Plant Size: 2-15 feet tall, variety dependant
  • Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Zone: 3-7

Fall is a wonderful time to get some hydrangeas in the ground. The number one thing you need to keep in mind here is making sure you plant them early enough. You want to ensure that they can be well watered enough to make it happily through the winter.

There are six main types of hydrangeas, most of which love partial sun but panicle hydrangeas love full sun. Plant your choice of hydrangea as a border, a hedge, in containers, or as a specimen throughout your gardens.

Muscari

Close-up of about 20 Muscari armeniacum 'Artist' flowers blooming in a flower bed. The low-growing flowers consist of clusters of flowers resembling a bunch of grapes, light purple in color. Bright green foliage and stems. Slightly blurred background.
Muscari produces blue, purple, and white flowers that resemble a bunch of grapes.
Scientific Name: Muscari armeniacum
  • Plant Size: 6-9 inches tall
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun- Partial shade
  • Bloom Time: Early spring
  • Plant Zone: 4-8

Also known as grape hyacinth, this is a very cute spring bulb that you need to grow in your garden. The small clusters of flowers resemble a bunch of grapes, hence the nickname. You can find muscari in white and shades of blue and purple.

When you plant these bulbs you will want to plant them three inches apart from each other, and three inches down. Easy enough to remember, right? Plant this bulb with other spring bulbs, or along the front border of a perennial garden for a charming spring border.

Oriental Lily

Close-up of two Oriental Lily flowers. One of the flowers is in focus. It consists of 6 elongated white petals with bright pink strokes in the center. The petals are strewn with dark pink freckles. Long light green stamens with brown pollen on the edges stick out from the center of the flower. The background is green and slightly blurry.
Oriental Lily produces incredibly fragrant bright pink flowers.
Scientific Name: Lilium orientalis
  • Plant Size: 1-4 feet
  • Sun Exposure:
  • Bloom Time: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

Oriental lilies are well known for their ‘stargazer’ variety which is highly fragrant with white petals and bright pink medial brush strokes. There are dwarf oriental varieties available that max out at one foot and are best used as a border.

The real show stoppers however will reach up to 4 feet in height. Plant your oriental lily bulbs one foot down, and aim for 3 or 4 bulbs per square foot. You will want to plant these in clumps to get the most dramatic effect.

Peony

Close-up of a bright pink peony flower. Peonies are bright, showy and lush flowers with double petals. Bright, luscious green foliage surrounds a gorgeous flower. The background is slightly blurred.
Peonies have large showy flowers and are known for their bright pink flowers.
Scientific Name: Paeonia lactiflora
  • Plant Size: 2-3 feet
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun- Partial Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring- Early Summer
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Who doesn’t love a peony blossom? This is a great time to plant any type of peony and get them established before the ground freezes. Available in just about every color, most famous for its pinks, peonies have large and fragrant blossoms.

The blossoms can get quite heavy so you will want to have a plant ring on hand to help preserve your flowers.  Plant your peonies in a perennial garden, or in a cutting garden.

Tulip

Close-up of pink tulips blooming in the garden. The buds consist of 6 bright pink petals collected towards the top. The flowers are held on strong green stems with bright green foliage. The background is slightly blurred.
Tulips are best planted in October so that the bulbs take root and bloom in the spring.
Scientific Name: Tulipa spp.
  • Plant Size: 9-24 inches tall, depending on variety
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

Another well loved spring flower that is best planted in fall is the tulip. Tulip bulbs are typically perennials, however some varieties are stronger and more dependable returners than others. Do a little research before purchasing your bulbs.

I would need an entire article to properly delve into the vast variety of tulips. They come in so many colors and combinations of colors. Tulips can also be single or double flowers, with different shaped petals as well. There is a tulip for every type of garden, all you need is full sun!

Veronica

Close-up of long blue Veronica spicata flowers blooming in a flower bed. Tall clusters of flowers with purple thorns. The foliage is thin and bright green.
Veronica produces clusters of spiked flowers in various shades of purple or pink.
Scientific Name: Veronica spicata
  • Plant Size: 1-3 feet tall, variety dependant
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Plant Zone: 3-8

This is a beautiful perennial in your gardens this fall to add simple elegance to your summer gardens. Veronica, also known as spiked speedwell, produces spiked clusters of flowers in shades of purple, pink and white.

Deadhead these flowers as they die to continue blooming all summer long. Depending on which variety of veronica you choose, this perennial could be a great choice for a border plant, or a middle of the garden filler.

Wood Anemone

Close-up of whitewood anemone flowers blooming in spring. The flowers are snow-white with thin petals and golden stamens sticking out from the middle of the flower. The foliage is dense and dark green. Only the front 8 flowers are in focus, the rest are blurred in the background.
These tiny bright white flowers with golden stamens will add a gorgeous touch to your perennial garden.
Scientific Name: Anemone nemorosa
  • Plant Size: 4-6 inches
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial shade
  • Bloom Time: Early Spring
  • Plant Zone: 4-9

If you love anemones, you should absolutely add wood anemones to your woodland gardens. These tiny little plants add a big splash of bright white to the shady areas of your yard in the springtime.

A great characteristic of the wood anemone is that they naturalize. This means that not only will the original bulbs come back every year, but every year they also produce new bulbs and hence produce more new plants. This is great for a large area.

Final Thoughts

Enjoy the cooler temperatures of October in your garden. While you are cleaning up leaves and starting to cut back your perennials don’t forget to add some more plants to your beds. Any of the perennials I have mentioned here would be well worth the effort. There are many other perennials that you can plant in October as well, be sure to go with your gut and add what you love into your gardens.

SHARE THIS POST
plants for under trees

Plants

49 Plants That Will Grow Underneath Almost Any Tree

Are you trying to find the perfect plants to grow under the trees in your yard or garden? Finding the right plant that can tolerate a little shade and not compete with your trees for nutrients can be difficult. In this article, we look at our favorite plants that can grow quite well under just about any type of tree in your yard or garden!

ground covers for slopes

Plants

23 Fast Growing Ground Covers For Sloping Gardens

Are you looking for some fast growing ground cover to fill in the sloping space in your garden? If you have a sloping area to fill in, you likely know that not everything grows well on the side of a hill or steep slope. In this article, we take a look at our favorite ground cover plants that will fill in the harsh sloping areas of your garden, with names and pictures of each!

perennial groundcover

Plants

17 Perennial Ground Cover Plants That Will Come Back Every Year

Are you looking for some perennial ground cover plants that will come back each season? There are many different ground covers you can choose from, but the key is finding the right plant. In this article, we take a look at our favorite perennial ground cover plants, with names and pictures of each!

cold hardy lavender

Plants

15 Lavender Varieties For Colder Hardiness Zones

Looking for a cold-friendly lavender plant to grow in your cooler hardiness zone? There are a few different types of lavender that can thrive in cooler climates. In this article, organic gardening expert and former lavender farmer Logan Haliey examines her favorite types of cold hardy lavender for colder hardiness zones!

container hostas

Plants

15 Tips For Planting Hostas in Pots or Containers

If you are struggling to properly plant hostas in pots or containers this season, you've come to the right place! Hostas are a shade garden favorite, and grow spectacularly in pots or containers. In this article, gardening expert Laura Elsner provides her top tips for growing beautiful container hostas this season!