10 Perennials for Fall Color in Iowa

Ted Lare fall perennials color

With summer fading into the coziest season of the year, some of those colorful summer flowers are fading as well. But, your yard doesn’t have to be boring in the fall. Embrace the sweater weather with warm apple cider and colorful fall perennials. 

These pretty and hardy cool weather bloomers are ramping up just as summer winds down. Grab your favorite scarf, a warm drink, and have a look at some of these colorful fall flowers. Here are 10 of the best perennials for fall color in Iowa.


With their tiny-but-soft needle-like petals, asters add a touch of delicacy and softness to a season that otherwise features rough textures, hard edges, and loud crunching. Asters, available in shades of pink, purple, and blue, from dark to nearly white, which can help temper the dominance of reds, yellows, and oranges that are everywhere in fall. 

Perennials fall color at Ted Lare aster goldenrod


The upright stature and striking yellow flowers of Goldenrod are an excellent addition to any fall perennial garden. Goldenrod provides beneficial nectar to pollinators during the later summer and early fall. Goldenrod is often falsely accused of being a culprit for seasonal allergies but ragweed is the actual culprit that blooms at the same time.


Gentian is another great choice to add lightness and softness with its color and texture to fall perennial gardens. The flowers are deep trumpet shapes with curled edges, in pale blues and whites. The foliage is a lighter green and features finely-textured fern-like leaves. Gentian works well in rock gardens and for edging beds.

Joe Pye Weed 

Joe Pye Weed brings bright jewel-toned pink flowers and fantastic height to a fall perennial garden. Joe Pye Weed can reach up 8 feet tall, and it’s super easy to grow. This resilient perennial is a striking combination with other fall perennials like asters, black-eyed Susans, and ornamental grasses.

Ted Lare perennials fall color

Blanket Flowers

Blanket flowers, aptly named because they create a full dense blanket of flowers in the fall, give a lot of bang for the buck. Their mounds of flowers are not just beautiful in the garden, but they make great cut flowers as well. Blanket flowers are usually in the yellow-orange-red spectrum, from dark to pale shades, and some varieties feature bi-color petals.

Garden or Hardy Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are a classic fall flower, but those globes of jewel-tone mums sold everywhere in the fall are not hardy enough to survive an Iowa winter. Garden mums or hardy mums are just as beautiful, come in a wide variety of colors, and have a more relaxed growing habit. With dedicated pruning and fertilization in spring and summer, you can get them to form a fairly dense dome of flowers. Or, you can let them go, and they’ll still provide profuse blooms, but with a looser growing style with more visible foliage.


Anemones are a beautiful addition to any fall garden. The 2-3” blooms sway in the wind on their wiry stems, earning them the name windflowers. They range in color from white to pink and will flourish a part sun to shady location in the garden.

Stonecrop Sedum

Stonecrop sedums add a fleshy succulent texture to the fall perennial garden. Stonecrop sedums are available in so many different colors, and their leaves can be as beautiful as their colorful flowers. Flower colors run the gamut from pink to red to purple to yellow to green to orange. The colors of the foliage also vary widely, including some variegated versions. Sedums are great for ground covers and the edges of garden beds, varying in height from 6 inches to about 2 feet tall.

Ted Lare fall perennials stonecrop sedum black-eyed susan

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-eyed Susans are a classic fall flower native to North America. With various shades available from deep burgundy red to bright yellow, and every shade in between, they’re a great mid-level fall flowering perennial. Black-Eyed Susans are available in a wide range of heights that can fill in that mid-level height in your perennial garden (between the sedums and the Joe Pye Weed), anywhere from 1-5 feet tall. Black-Eyed Susans are also super resilient and low maintenance since they’re adapted to our climate.


In spite of its name, sneezeweed doesn’t usually cause any sneezing, allergies, or hay fever. Sneezeweed, also called Helenium, produces large flowers up to 2 inches in diameter, with a large center cone that’s popular with the butterflies and other pollinators. There are many varieties of sneezeweed available, all of which display daisy-like petals. Sneezeweed ranges in colors from pale yellow to deep red-orange.


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With these late-blooming beauties, you can extend your garden’s season of color by several months! Add these colorful perennials to your garden now, and enjoy a fall full of colorful flowers next year.


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