Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Late-Season Bloomers

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone a hand next to a yellow flowering ‘Golden Fleece’ Goldenrod, Solidago

Hello, fellow readers. As we approach the homestretch of the gardening season, many gardens grow tired. Mine especially so as the poor things suffer from neglect. Busy tending to other folks’ gardens is my not-so-perfect excuse. Thankfully, there are late-season bloomers I rely on to lift the drab and weedy.

a tall mauve-flowering perennial, Joe-Pye weed, in front of an American flag

Joe-Pye Weed

Lovlies that Stand Tall

Rising high is Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) – a tall native plant seen roadside in full sun or part shade that makes a beautiful backdrop. Eupatorium maculatum’ Gateway,’ commonly sold in nurseries, has volleyball-sized purplish-pink flowers August through September on top of five to seven-foot maroon stems. Some warn they’re prolific spreaders by self-seeding. I prefer to say they’re robust, especially in damp soil; butterflies and hummingbirds love them. There’s E. rugosum ‘Chocolate’ with burgundy foliage that blooms white. Smaller varieties of Joe Pye Weed, such as E. dubium’ Little Joe’, grow about four feet, and ‘Baby Joe’ only slightly over two.

Another deer-resistant late bloomer is Ligularia, also known as Ragwort. Mine is L. dentata’ Britt-Marie Crawford’ with large reddish-brown glossy leaves and orangey-yellow flowers standing about three feet in part shade. She also prefers damp soil and blooms from August through September.

a yellow flowering Ligularia in front of a white pine trunk

Butterflies love the late-season feast of Ligularia in part shade.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Tall yellow-blooming Swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, in frnt of a brink ranch house.

Swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius

Sun lovers 

Each fall, I marvel over the Swamp sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, also called the Narrowleaf sunflower, with yellow daisy-like flowers. It’s on my to-do to plant. Many varieties stand a stately six feet or more, but ‘First Light’ stays about four feet. Swamp sunflower is another moist soil lover that flowers best in full sun, though part sun and well-drained soil is fine with weekly watering.

How about sun lovers like Sneezeweed (Helenium), which looks like small red, yellow, and orange coneflowers? Despite the common name, Sneezeweed doesn’t make you sneeze. The same is true of Goldenrod (Solidago), which has a bad reputation for causing allergies, but it’s Ragweed (Ambrosia) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) to blame (check out a previous column, Godenrod’s Bad Reputation).

Glorious Goldenrod 
Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone a hand next to a yellow flowering ‘Golden Fleece’ Goldenrod, Solidago

‘Golden Fleece’ Goldenrod / Solidago

Some folks believe native Goldenrod is invasive, though authorities don’t think so (Link to story below). Rather than intrusive, think of Goldenrod as opportunistic; you can’t blame the beauty for that. There’s ‘Fireworks,’ which grows three to four feet tall, and ‘Golden Fleece,’ which I have in the rock garden standing a cute eighteen inches. Both are sturdy, non-invasive, and full of brilliant yellow fall blooms. ‘Golden Fleece’ Goldenrod is semi-evergreen and serves as a ground cover effective in squelching weeds when planted in groupings—a beautiful thing.

All the abovementioned late-season bloomers are the perfect additions for weary gardeners looking to pump up fall color in their tired gardens.

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There’s much more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast:

Related Stories you’ll enjoy:  

Is Goldenrod Invasive?
Goldenrod’s bad reputation

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. So Elite Reply

    Enjoy reading these entries even though am no gardener yet.

    • Mary Stone Reply

      I believe those who enjoy nature or gardeners, even if they don’t garden, are nurturers of our dear earth. And so are indirectly gardeners. But I hope you dig in the dirt someday. You’ll love it! Thank you for reading my post, Mary

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