Our Top Picks for September

You can feel fall in the air, but don't worry, our gardens are far from slowing down. In fact, September is one of the loveliest times in the Pacific Northwest garden, as foliage shows spectacular color, new flowers pop-up, and certain summer plants just keep right on performing until frost. Here are a few of our favorites for the late-summer-to-fall season.


Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Heather blooms summer to fall and many varieties have foliage with striking fall color. Look for a variety of bloom colors: white, bright pink, mauve, and more. Scotch Heathers prefer sandy, peaty soils and little to no fertilizer. Shear after blooming to help keep this evergreen shrub compact and bushy. 

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained soil

  • 4"-3' tall x 24" wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms late summer through fall

Gulf Stream Nandina.jpg


This outstanding shrub displays attractive foliage in all four seasons. New growth of Nandina ‘Gulf Stream’, shown above, is orangey-scarlet maturing to a blue-green color in summer. Hardy and virtually pest and disease free, Nandina also has the added bonus of beautiful fall color.

  • Sun to partial shade

  • Well-drained soil

  • 3’-8' tall and 2’-6’ wide, depending on variety

  • Bright red fall foliage

Helenium Mariachi Bandera.jpg


With glowing gold, orange, and red blooms mid-summer through fall, Helenium is a standout in the garden. This perennial grows about anywhere so it's a great plant for beds, borders, and containers. Excellent for cut flower arrangements. Combines well with Echinacea and Gaura.

  • Full sun

  • Average, well-drained soil; low-water use plant

  • 12"-24" tall x 15"-18" wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms mid-summer through fall


Pennisetum Karley Rose Grass.jpg

Oriental Fountain Grass (Pennisetum orientalis ‘Karley Rose’)

Perfect for an urban meadow or a large container. Oriental Fountain grass has dark green blade-like foliage and feathery, smokey-rose flowers that seem to glow in the afternoon sun. The tufty blooms and foliage sway gently on the breeze.

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained soil

  • 3’-4’ tall x 2’-3’ wide

  • Blooms June to October


Whirling Butterflies (Gaura lindheimeri)

As its name suggests, Gaura, when in bloom, looks like a multitude of pink or white butterflies whirling in the breeze. This drought-tolerant perennial is ideal for rock gardens, mixed borders, and containers. Gaura has a long blooming period and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds!

  • Full sun

  • Average, well-drained soil

  • 10”-4’ tall and 16”-4’ wide

  • Blooms June to October

Perovskia russian sage.jpg

Russian Sage (Perovskia atripicifolia)

Airy, lacy foliage and spires of lavender flowers make Russian sage a lovely addition to the garden. This tough plant is drought tolerant after it is established and is popular with the bees! Russian sage prefers a warm and sunny location. Cut it back to the ground before new growth appears in the spring.

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained soil

  • 3’-4’ tall x 3’ wide

  • Blooms mid-summer to fall

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Japanese Anemone

Japanese Anemones are great choice for the late summer and fall garden. Snow white or pink flowers late summer to early fall. This plant needs little attention once it is established and spreads to a large clump.  Look beautiful when combined with Miscanthus grass and silver-leaved shrubs.

  • Sun to part shade

  • Average to dry soil; low-water use plant

  • 2'-4' tall and wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms late summer to early fall

Sedum autumn joy.jpg

Autumn Joy Sedum

This sturdy perennial is as tough and dependable as they come, with pink flower clusters that gracefully age to rosy, coppery-red in the fall and succulent foliage. Looks great when paired with grasses. Attracts pollinators and butterflies.

  • Full Sun

  • Well-drained soil; low water-use plant

  • 18"-24" tall and wide

  • Blooms August to November



Cheerful, bright colors and long bloom times make pansies a favorite. Tucking pansies around taller, showier plants can really refresh your containers and garden beds fall-spring. Deadheading spent flowers will result in more blooms.

  • Sun to partial shade (dislikes hot sun)

  • Rich, well-drained soil

  • 3"-12" tall and wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms late summer through winter



Chrysanthemums (or mums, as they are commonly called) are the quintessential fall flower. These lovely, multi-petaled flowers come in a wide variety of colors and bloom from late summer through fall. Mums make a great cut flower as well.

  • Full sun

  • Rich, well-drained soil

  • 12"-24" tall and wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms late summer through fall



Escallonia is an excellent evergreen shrub for the PNW. It is generally a compact plant with glossy green foliage and flowers and deep pink flowers over a long period in the summer and fall. Once established, it is drought tolerant. Try Pink Princess Escallonia for rose-pink flowers or Terri Escallonia for darker pink flowers and a smaller stature.. Newport Dwarf Escallonia (seen above) has a compact habit, growing only to 2’ tall.

  • Full sun

  • Well-drained soil

  • 2’-8’ tall and wide, depending on variety

  • Blooms June through October, depending on variety


September is a great time to plant and to find the best selection of plants to brighten up your fall garden. For our Fall Sale, we bring in an extended selection of fresh plants throughout the month of September. Best of all, all trees, shrubs, perennials (including grasses, groundcovers, and herbs), and 8" mums are 30% off! Fall Sale runs August 31-September 30, 2019.

Our experts are happy to offer more great fall plant selections or you can ask us for advice on social media using #heyswansons.