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10 Easy Native Perennials To Buy And Plant This Fall

Sowing seeds in the fall? Absolutely! With a bit of effort this season, you’ll reap big rewards next year — and for many years to come.
10 Easy Native Perennials To Buy And Plant This Fall

(Photo: iStock)

As the weather gets colder, gardening may be the last thing on your mind. But don’t put away the gardening tools just yet—fall is a fabulous time to plant easy native perennials for fall from seed.

Why plant native perennial seeds in the fall?

In nature, native plants bloom in the warmer months. After they are done blooming, the pollinated flowers develop into seed heads that ripen and mature in late summer and fall. Once the seeds disperse, they spend the winter getting ready to germinate in the spring. In fact, this exposure to cold and wet conditions is good for seeds—the alternate freezing and thawing breaks down the seed coat and starts the growth process.

So, by sowing native perennial wildflower seeds in the fall, you can mimic the natural life cycle of native plants and give your seeds a head start. And because seeds are way more affordable than plants, sowing seeds will save you big bucks on gardening.

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How do I plant seeds in the fall?

You don’t want your seeds to start germinating when you plant them, or they will be killed off by the frost. So, the best time to sow seeds in fall is after the killing frost but before the ground freezes.

Before you purchase any seeds, make sure to choose species that are winter hardy in your area. We’ve listed the hardiness zones for each of the varieties mentioned in this article, and you’ll usually see the hardiness zone listed on a seed package as well. Take a look at this map to check your hardiness zone.

Once you’re ready to seed, prepare the soil by clearing a bare patch of garden. Don’t disturb the soil too much; just loosen the top couple of inches and gently remove any weeds. Then scatter seeds according to the package directions.

After sowing your seeds, apply a 1 to 2-in. layer of mulch to help insulate the soil. If you live in an area where you have a lot of foraging fauna like birds or squirrels, you may also need to protect your seeds by putting down a sheet of cardboard overtop. (Don’t forget to remove the cardboard in spring after the thaw, or the seeds won’t grow!). Then wait for your lovely new plants to emerge.

Why should I plant native species?

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There are so many benefits to growing native plants, including attracting butterflies. They provide important nectar sources for pollinators like bees and butterflies, as well as food for native birds and mammals. Simply by planting native plants, you can help improve biodiversity—and enjoy seeing more wildlife in your own yard. Native plants also help conserve water, as they tend to be drought tolerant and require less irrigation. And because they are so hardy, native plants are more resilient to climate change. Not to mention they are a beautiful addition to your garden.

Here are some fantastic native wildflowers that will reward you (and wildlife) with beautiful blooms throughout the summer.

Scarlet Beebalm (Monarda didyma L.), native perennial seeds to plant in the fall in Canada (Photo: iStock)

Scarlet Beebalm (Monarda didyma L.), $4 for 50 seeds

Hardiness Zones: 4-9 Heat Zones: 1-9

Also known as Oswego Tea and Red Bergamot, this showy perennial produces tufts of bright red flowers that are magnets for hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators. Its dark green leaves, which have a minty aroma, can be used to make tea. Scarlet beebalm prefers full sun, but it will tolerate some shade in hot areas. It grows two to four feet tall and blooms from mid-summer to early fall.

Wild bergamot in flower, native perennial seeds Canada (Photo: iStock)

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), $12 for 300 seeds

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Hardiness Zone: 3-9

Wild bergamot is a lovely pollinator plant that produces pale purple flowers from summer until fall. Like scarlet beebalm, it has minty leaves that repel deer and rabbits. The blue-purple bloom loves full sun but tolerates some light afternoon shade. Wild bergamot grows best in rich, moist soil but can withstand a brief drought.

It can be susceptible to powdery mildew in warm, humid climates, so give it plenty of space to improve airflow.

Rudbeckia Fulgida Deamii (Sonnenhut) black-eyed Susan flowers. Black-eyed Susans. (Photo: iStock)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), $10 for 12,800 seeds

Hardiness Zone: 3-7

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This resilient wildflower is prolific in North America and easy to grow. The bright yellow flowers bloom from August through October, offering a pop of colour in the fall months. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, and the seeds they produce are gobbled up by birds like American goldfinches, black-capped chickadees, and various sparrows.

Black-eyed Susans flower bi-annually, but because they easily re-seed themselves, you’ll enjoy blooms every year. They prefer full sun and are best planted in bunches.

A monarch butterfly on butterfly milkweed's orange flowers (Photo: iStock)

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa L.), $4 for 20 seeds

Hardiness Zone: 3-9

If you love monarch butterflies (who doesn’t?), milkweed is a must-have plant for your garden. Not only do the flowers provide nectar for butterflies and other pollinators but milkweed is a “host plant” for monarch caterpillars: they only eat the leaves of milkweed.

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There are several varieties; butterfly milkweed is a great option: the pretty orange flowers bloom from late spring until late summer, followed by cool seedpods that eventually dry and crack open to reveal silky white seed masses (which provide hours of entertainment if you have kids).

Butterfly milkweed is very easy to grow from seed. It likes a sunny location with well-drained soil and can withstand drought.

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)'s white, trumpet-shaped flowers in a field, native perennial seeds to plant in fall (Photo: iStock)

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), $4 for 200 seeds

Hardiness Zone: 3-8

A hardy and long-lived perennial, foxglove beardtongue has white flowering trumpet-shaped blooms in May and June. The blossoms are visited by hummingbirds and various species of long-tongued bees. (Caution: the plant should not be consumed by people or pets because it contains naturally occurring poisons.)

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Foxglove beardtongue enjoys full sun dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil.

Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)'s yellow, daisy-like flowers blooming; easy perennial native seeds to plant in fall (Photo: iStock)

Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), $3 for 100 seeds

Hardiness Zone: 4-7

If you want an easy, no-fail native flower, lanceleaf coreopsis is a great option. As long as it has full sun, it will grow easily in average quality or rocky soil, often forming colonies in disturbed areas like roadsides and ditches. The yellow, daisy-like flowers attract pollinators and the seeds are eaten by songbirds. It self-seeds easily but it can be weedy; cut fresh flowers and deadhead old buds to keep it from taking over.

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A Maximilian yellow sunflower

Maximilian Sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani), $4 for 175 seeds

A native sunflower, the Maximilian sunflower is a fast grower that gets nice and tall, growing up to ten feet. It blooms profusely in late summer and fall, attracting pollinators. After it blooms, birds and small mammals feast on its seeds. Choose a sunny spot with rich, moist, well-drained soil to plant seeds. Once it’s established, it will easily re-seed itself to form lovely groupings.

Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), distinct flower spikes lined with small tubular flowers that attract pollinators (Photo: iStock)

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), $4 for 30 seeds

Obedient plant boasts distinct flower spikes lined with small tubular flowers that attract pollinators. A long bloomer, it will keep going from summer until the first frost. In nature, obedient plant can be found growing in wet meadows and riverbanks. It likes full sun to part shade and grows best in rich, moist, well-drained soil but it can withstand both flooding and drought. Despite its name, obedient plant can quickly take over via underground rhizomes—so make sure to cut it back and pull extra sprouts periodically.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea); beautiful pinkish-purple flowers (Photo: iStock)

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), $4 for 30 seeds

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Hardiness Zones: 4-8

Also known as echinacea, purple coneflower is a staple for the native garden. It blooms throughout the summer with beautiful pinkish-purple flowers that are beloved by pollinators. It is easy to grow in sunny locations with rich, moist soil and is drought tolerant. In the fall and winter, the seedheads provide important food for seed-eating birds.

These make gorgeous additions to early fall flowers on your tabletop.

Wild Geranium (Geranium pratense); Also known as Cranesbill Meadow, this small perennial produces pretty lilac flowers that fade to white at the center

Wild Geranium (Geranium pratense), $7 for 30 seeds

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Hardiness Zones: 4-9

Also known as Cranesbill Meadow, this small perennial produces pretty lilac flowers that fade to white at the centre. It prefers full sun but will grow in part shade and it likes wet, well-drained soil. An early spring through mid-summer bloomer, it attracts early pollinators. It spreads easily through underground rhizomes and looks great planted in masses as groundcover or along borders.

While the products in this piece have been independently chosen, this article contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

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