Steele: Colourful, fall blooming xeriscape plants at H2O

While autumn officially began Sept. 22, with any luck we will have another month to enjoy fall colours in the garden.

Sedum ‘Autumn Fire

There are many water-wise plants that bloom in the fall in addition to some summer bloomers that continue into the fall.

For the extremely dry garden in late summer and fall:

• native rabbitbrush shrub has outstanding golden-yellow bloom atop silver foliage

• Russian sage (Perovskia) has silver foliage and blue flowers

• tall sedum’s ‘Matrona,’  ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Brilliant’ have pink to reddish flowers loved by bees. They have great foliage the rest of the growing season and add interest to the garden in winter

• tasty garlic chives (white flowers).

Plants in the dry garden that bloom from June to frost without deadheading are:

• Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa) — large yellow blooms

• hardy ice plant (Delospermum cooperi) — a ground cover with fuchsia pink flowers

• Walker’s Low catnip (Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’) — silver foliage and blue flowers.

Blanket flower (Gaillardia), a good cut flower, will repeat bloom if deadheaded.

Long blooming annuals include marigolds, sunflowers, verbena, gazania and portulaca.

Okanagan native flowers that bloom from June to frost are golden asters (Heterotheca villosa) and showy aster (Aster conspicuus).

The later is a vigorous spreader by seeds and roots so only use it in a wild garden or for erosion control.

Native Aster ericoides has starry white flowers in fall.

Fall blooming plants that need some supplemental water in the dry heat are:

• blue leadwort (Ceratostigma plumbagnoides)

• Japanese anemone (Anemone ‘Robustissima’) –pink blooms, will grow in full sun or part shade. It grows vigorously, especially in rich soil or too

• Blue mist spirea or bluebeard (Caryopteris ‘Dark Knight’) is a five by five foot silvered leaved shrub. Its deep blue flowers are a pollinator magnet—as are most blue flowers.

Blue flowered Aster frikartii blooms continuously from July to frost without deadheading.

Three well-behaved yarrows that bloom in June and, if cut back, bloom again in fall are: Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (soft yellow), A. ‘Terra Cotta’ (salmon/terra cotta), and A. ‘Paprika’ (scarlet with yellow eye).

Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ and Echinacea ‘Magnus’ bloom from June to September. The latter benefits from deadheading in summer.

Both have excellent winter structure and attractive seed heads that provide bird food.

Yellow ‘Stella d’Oro’ daylily blooms from June into September.

Rugosa roses ‘Hansa’ and ‘Nearly Wild’ are profuse bloomers in late spring and fall as well as having some bloom through summer.

Long blooming annuals that have similar water needs are: osteospermum, petunias, cosmos, and calendula.

My favourite fall annuals are zinnias. They begin blooming in a multitude of vibrant colours in August and continue to frost. They’re an excellent cut flower.

Check the plant database at for more information and pictures of these and other fall blooming plants as well as plants that have attractive fall foliage colours.

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