September is a time of year when life in the garden starts to quieten down. A lot of fruit and veg is maturing and some flowers are too. But on the contrary, there are lots of plants available to extend the flowering and season of interest well into late autumn and early winter. So here are top ten plants for September gardens…

1. Symphyotrichum x frikartii (aster) ‘Monch’

Autumn is the time of year when asters start to flower prolifically. There are hundreds of varieties of these pretty, late-flowering plants to choose from. Some grow tall and upright, others produce loose, arching stems. ‘Monch’ is not only one of the earliest to flower, but also one of the longest flowering varieties too. It produces pretty, lilac daisy-like flowers, is disease free and grows into a neat dome shaped plant.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 60cm tall
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered

2. Solidago rugosa (golden rod) ‘Fireworks’

Golden rods have a reputation for spreading, but this variety is better behaved. It lives up to its name by producing gently arching flower stems with sprays of yellow flowers for many weeks. Newly emerging leaves are a lovely dusky red colour. These contrast really well with the flowers, making it a cheerful, impact plant for the middle to back of the flower border where pollinators can enjoy it.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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3. Abelia x grandiflora (glossy abelia)

Next is an underrated semi-evergreen shrub that’s a great choice for a mixed border at this time of the year. It will reward you by producing masses of small, scented, light pink-white flowers on arching stems from early summer to late autumn. It’s slightly tender, so is best planted in a sheltered position. What’s more, planting close to a pathway means the scented flowers can best be appreciated. Another benefit is that it requires very little maintenance.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy in most places throughout the UK
  • Grows to 3m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
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4. Gillenia trifoliata (Bowman’s root)

Although this is an early summer flowering plant, this is included because at this time of the year, the leaves turn a fantastic orange glow. This foliage perfectly complements the autumn flowers around it. It’s an easy to grow perennial if given well drained soil, and looks great in the middle of the flower border.

  • Flowers in spring
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 90cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Partial shade
  • Sheltered
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5. Chrysanthemum (hardy chrysanthemum) ‘Dernier Soleil’

There are some very pretty autumn flowering hardy chrysanthemum available and ‘Dernier Soleil’ is a very long flowering one. The blooms appear in August and last all the way up to frost. For best results the following year, prune the plant to just above ground level in March.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 80cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Exposed or sheltered
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6. Anemanthele lessoniana (pheasant-tail grass)

Evergreen grasses with leaves that change colour in the autumn are a fantastic addition to the late summer to early autumn border. The narrow arching leaves gently sway in the breeze to add a soothing atmosphere to the garden. This clump forming grass has leaves that start to turn orange-bronze at this time of the year and remain this colour throughout the winter months. Also, it grows well in part shade and is best kept in check by cutting back hard in the spring.

  • Evergreen foliage
  • Hardy through most of the UK
  • Grows to 75cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed or sheltered
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7. Heptacodium miconioides (seven son flower tree)

Next is an unusual, pest and disease-free, hardy shrub/small tree. It’s an utter delight at this time of year because it produces creamy-white, highly scented, flowers. These blooms last from August, often all the way through to early winter. Its tapering leaves hang in elegant pairs and the bark is a pretty creamy bronze. What’s more, it’s quick growing, easy to look after and has compact growth, which makes it ideal for the smaller garden.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 6m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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8. Ceratostigma plumbaginoides (hardy plumbago)

This low spreading, woody perennial truly delights at this time of year. It has clusters of vivid blue flowers and leaves that turn gorgeous shades of red in the autumn. An added bonus is that it will become drought tolerant once established. Therefore it can be a great addition to the front of a border for early autumn interest.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows to 45cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed
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9. Cercidiphyllum japonicum (katsura tree)

If you’ve ever smelled the delicious scent of toffee in the air when out walking at this time of year and wondered where it was coming from, you need look no further. This is the tree that may be responsible for it. The sweet, aromatic smell from the leaves wafts in the air, although oddly the leaves themselves don’t smell. Best planted in a sheltered part of the garden to avoid leaves being damaged by spring frosts and placed at the back of a border.

  • Flowers in spring; but foliage gives off toffee aroma in summer and autumn
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 6m tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered
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10. Hypericum x inodorum (rose of Sharon) ‘Magical Universe’

Last but not least, Hypericum seem to be having a revival due to their long season of interest with flowers, berries and winter seed heads. This variety has handsome dark bronze-green leaves and cheerful orange-yellow flowers. Then, these are followed at this time of year by really attractive glossy, maroon-coloured berries, which look fantastic when backlit by a low autumnal sun. It’s compact and rust-resistant, making it a great choice for the low maintenance garden.

  • Flowers in summer
  • Hardy
  • Grows to 60cm tall
  • Moist but well-drained or well-drained soil
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Exposed
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As we step out of summer and closer to autumn, incorporate long lasting flowers and fantastic foliage plants into your schemes. Keep your borders bursting with colour with these top ten plants for September gardens.

Find out more about adding texture to your garden:

Adding texture

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