Vibrant fuschias, fiery rudbeckias and shaggy golden grasses are among our list of flowers and plants that will bring warmth and cheer to your garden this autumn. These plants are chosen by expert growers and gardeners Tom Brown (TB), Mat Reese (MR), Fleur van Zonnefeld (FvZ).

Don't miss our expert growing guides on each of the plants and our advice on when to plant spring flowering bulbs.

The best autumn flowers to plant

Fuchsia hatschbachii

This graceful fuchsia will make a wonderful, lush autumn shrub for the garden. It has relatively large, glossy green, willow-like leaves and bushy, copper stems. Its hummingbird-pollinated flowers are slimmer than those of Fuchsia magellanica, but otherwise look similar. The flowers are produced on the tips of the current season’s growth.

Ideally, plant in a sheltered position and cut back hard in the spring to promote strong, arching shoots that will show off the flowers and foliage to their best throughout September and autumn. Feed periodically through the summer and treat for capsid bugs to ensure a good display of flowers in September and October. MR

Height 2m. Origin Brazil. Conditions Good soil; sun or part shade. Hardiness RHS H2, USDA 8a-11. Season Summer to autumn.

Read our plant profile guide to fuchsia.

Kniphofia rooperi

From a huge nest of fresh-green leaves, strong flower spikes, are produced, each bearing a rather fat torch lily flower that is almost as wide as it is long. The flowers start orange-red and age to yellow and are produced well into October and autumn creating a magnificent floral full stop to summer. It was used very effectively at Great Dixter when combined with Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’, but would work well with grasses or larger, new-world salvias. Position carefully as plants reach nearly a metre wide and resent disturbance. Plant in good soil and tidy the old leaves in spring. MR

Height 2m. Origin South Africa. Conditions Good, rich soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 7a-10b. Season Late summer to autumn.

Read our plant profile guide to kniphofia

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cappuccino'

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cappuccino'
© Jason Ingram

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cappuccino’ is a fabulous selection that will make sturdy branching plants and will flower throughout the summer into autumn until colder days draw the show to a close. The huge daisy flowers are dark mahogany in the centre, bleeding to an amber yellow, and look absolutely divine in the soft autumnal sunshine, or cut for the house. Each flower will last for weeks and deadheading will help to keep the show clean and encourage more blooms. These are vigorous and greedy plants, it is important to feed the soil with good compost when planting and with fertiliser into autumn. MR

Height 1m. Origin Garden origin. Conditions Any rich soil that is not saturated; full sun. Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 3a-8b. Season Summer to autumn.

Hesperantha coccinea 'Major'

Star-shaped, clear-red flowers are produced on gladiolus-like stems and held just above the thin, sword-shaped foliage. Crimson flag lilies hail from South Africa, so you might imagine they’re sun-loving, drought-tolerant geophytes. Sun-loving, yes, but they resolutely resent drought and will perform best in moist soils, and can even be used as marginal plants for ponds. They do especially well in Cornish gardens, and the west coast of Scotland. Plant in rich soil and split every couple of years to promote vigour and maintain flower production. MR

Height 50cm. Origin Garden origin. Conditions Good moist soil that doesn’t dry out for long periods; full sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 7a-9b. Season Late summer to autumn.

Here's our guide on how to grow hesperantha

Hylotelephium 'Mr Goodbud'

The flower heads are held in tight clusters, not dissimilar to broccoli, on thick stems above grey-green, succulent foliage. The blooms age to claret and will persist well into autumn. Plant in a sunny aspect in free-draining soil. Protect from slugs, but avoid using pellets – newts and frogs love to bed down among the cold, ice-plant foliage during summer. MR

Height 45cm. Origin Garden origin. Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b. Season Summer to winter.

Miscanthus sinensis 'Emmanuel Lepage'

Miscanthus Emmanuel Lepage.
© Jason Ingram

Originally a gift from French nurserymen Monsieur Lepage, this was a chance seedling in his stock beds in the Loire. He selected it for good form and colour and named it after his father. Miscanthus sinensis cultivars contribute reliable height, colour and movement from August to February. This one is particularly valuable retaining fresh green foliage pretty much until Christmas. Prolific flowering stems unfurl to display gently arching plumes with a silken sheen the colour of café au lait. It is a fine partner to Eupatorium cultivars. MR

Height/spread 200cm x 100xm. Origin Miscanthus sinensis species originate in Southeast Asia. Soil Most Moisture-retentive garden loams. Season August to November.

Don't miss our focus on ornamental grasses

Persicaria virginiana var. filiformis

Persicaria Filiforme.
©  Jason Ingram

As other plants begin to wane, this Persicaria justifies its place in the garden. Principally grown for the velvet textured foliage, its emerald leaves are symetrically marked with an attractive chocolate brown blotch. Wine-red stems repeatedly branch into an airy structure, the terminal wisp of stem so slender it is scarcely visible. Until, that is, tiny flower buds open to reveal a perfect pinpoint of vivid scarlet. MR

Height/Spread 65-80cm x 50cm. Origin Species introduced from America by John Tradescant the younger. Soil Prefers a moisture-retentive soil in light shade, protected from harsh winds. Season Foliage from June, flowers from September.

Don't miss our guide on how to grow persicaria

Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Star of the East’

Autumn flowers: Crocosmia 'Star of the East'.
© Jason Ingram

This plant presents the perfect example of how a glorious orange flower lift the spirits and brightens a fading border. Coral buds open to star-shaped blooms up to 10cm across, with masses of sword-like green foliage. A triumphant marriage of beauty and resilience and awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit. ‘Star of the East’ is an Earlham hybrid raised by George Davison who thereafter turned to apple breeding, believing the form could never be surpassed. A confident commendation! MR

Height/Spread 70cm x 35cm. Origin Crocosmia species originated in South Africa. Soil Moisture-retentive loam, preferably not drying excessively in summer months. Season Late August to end September.

Malus x robusta ‘Red Sentinel’

Malus x robusta
 ‘Red Sentinel’
© Jason Ingram

If you’re still searching for the perfect tree for a small garden then it’s worth considering a crab apple. They tick a lot of boxes, not least because they offer a long period of interest. ‘Red Sentinel’ blooms incredibly well in April and May, with a tremendous show of white flowers that are blushed pink. Then from September bauble-like, shiny, red fruits are produced in abundance all over the tree’s canopy. To my amazement, in a wildlife-filled garden, the fruits persist on the branches until Christmas. AGM. TB

Height 4-8m. Origin Garden origin. Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; full sun or part shade. Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 4a-8b. Season of interest Fruiting in September/October.

Here's everything you need to know about crab apples

Alstroemeria Indian Summer (= ‘Tesronto’)

Alstroemeria Indian Summer 'Tesronto'
© Jason Ingram

Striking blooms make this an excellent cut October flower – but pull rather than cut the stems to encourage its generous nature. The bronze foliage also makes it useful as a foil among other shrubs and perennials.

Foliage colour is best achieved by siting it in a sun-drenched position, but it needs moist, fertile soil to achieve the best display. Experience has taught me to mulch the plants well during their first winter to insulate the roots and ensure perenniality. TB

Height 1.5m. Origin Garden origin (species from South America). Conditions Fertile, free-draining soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 5a-9b.
Season of interest Early summer until the frosts.

Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’

Dahlia 'Karma Choc'
© Jason Ingram

Dahlias in the Karma series are much admired by flower arrangers for their long stems. This is perhaps the most opulent with rich-maroon flowers and bronze foliage – and it smells of chocolate.

Avoid the trap of planting too many dark flowers together, and keep them as an accent to avoid these October flowers losing their potent impact. With most dahlias, ensure that the plant has a good framework of sturdy stems by enriching the soil prior to planting. A weekly tomato feed from mid-June will go a long way to giving you great results. AGM. TB

Height 1.5-2m. Origin Garden origin (species from Mexico and Central America). Conditions Fertile, well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H3, USDA 7a-10b. Season of interest July until first frosts.

Here's more on dahlias

Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Wakehurst’

Abutilon 'Wakehurst'
© Jason Ingram

When I saw this cultivar in the new Exotic Garden at RHS Wisley I was impressed by the colour this flower displayed on a bright, sunny, October day. Its large, bicoloured flowers appear throughout summer but increase as the season progresses.

It can be grown as a free-standing shrub or against a sun-baked wall – both situations needing shelter from the extreme winter. I always strike cuttings in summer and overwinter in a frost-free place as an insurance policy. TB

Height 2m. Origin Garden origin (species from Brazil). Conditions Reasonably moist but free-draining soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H3. Season of interest Midsummer through to late autumn.

Here's everything you need to know about abutilon

Saxifraga ‘Rubrifolia’

Saxifraga 'Rubrifolia' (fortunei)
© Jason Ingram

A delightful, hardy saxifrage that is great for partially shaded borders or containers. In terms of an October flower, masses of frothy, white blooms cover the bronze foliage, which has provided interest for most of late spring and summer. Ideal for the front of a shady border that has good fertility and drainage.

To achieve the ideal growing conditions for this saxifrage, aim to replicate a deciduous woodland floor, with rich, open and crumbly leaf mould. AGM. TB

Height 10-50cm. Origin Garden origin (hybrid of Saxifraga fortunei from China, Japan and Korea). Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; partial shade. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 6a-9b. Season of interest Late summer until autumn.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Narumigata’

Camellia sasanqua 'Narumigata'
© Jason Ingram

I love a plant that stands out from the crowd and this autumn-flowering species does that. Originating from Japan, sasanqua camellias require a more sheltered position than spring-flowering species, but if you have an ericaceous soil they are well worth a try.

I find the elegant, pure-white, single flowers of this cultivar particularly attractive at this time of year. During October, and then sporadically throughout the winter months, the flowers help to light up shaded and protected positions beneath the canopy of a tree. AGM. TB

Height 2.5-4m. Origin Garden origin (species from Japan). Conditions Fertile, moisture-retentive, and well-drained ericaceous soil; partial shade. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 7a-9b. Season of interest Autumn and winter.

Rosa ‘fru dagmar Hastrup’

Rosa 'Fru Dagmar Hastrup' Hips
© Jason Ingram

Rugosas are worth looking at if you’ve struggled with other roses, as they are robust and reliable. This one stands out for autumn colour and fruit.

The compact plants produce pointed buds opening to mid-pink, single flowers that evolve into large, eye-catching, red hips that flower from October. The glossy, green foliage is largely resistant to pests and disease.

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In poorer soils, I grow Origanum around the base to attract pollinators and disguise foliage sacrificed lower down the stems. AGM. TB

Height 50cm-1m. Origin Discovered as a seedling of Rosa rugosa and named in Denmark in 1914. Conditions Fertile, well-drained soil; full sun or partial shade. Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 3a-9b. Season of interest Flowers from June until the autumn; foliage and fruit from October.

Leonotis leonurus

Leonotis leonurus
© Jason Ingram

Known as lion’s ear, this tender perennial produces whorls of bright-orange flowers in October, adding an exotic flavour to container plantings and borders. It can be shy to flower when planted in a border, and is best in a container where roots can be restricted and fed with potash to encourage a strong flowering performance.

As an insurance policy, I would suggest taking cuttings and overwintering in a frost-free place, although in a sheltered garden you may be fortunate enough to get it through to the following year. TB

Height 2m. Origin Southern Africa. Conditions Will grow well in most free-draining soils; full sun. Hardiness RHS H2, USDA 8a-11. Season of interest Late summer through to early autumn.

x Amarine tubergenii Belladiva Series

Amarine tubergenii Belladiva Series
© Jason Ingram

Amarines gives a high summer-like display towards the tail end of the season and October, as the colder nights creep in. Bred as a hybrid between Amaryllis and Nerine, amarines combine the flamboyancy of the autumn-flowering amaryllis with the delicacy and robust nature of nerines.

Like both its parents, this is a bulb that is best suited to a sun-baked location with little competition to cast shade over it while it grows. It is also a bulb for which drainage is key, so if you garden on a heavy soil, I would suggest you stick to growing these bulbs in containers. TB

Height 50cm. Origin Garden origin (species from South Africa). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 8a-10b. Season of interest Autumn.

Here's more on nerines and amarines

Borago officinalis

Borago officinalis
© Maayke de Ridder © Maayke de Ridder

Borage is one of what are known as pioneer plants, those hardy species that are the first to colonise previously damaged ecosystems. It’s an annual plant found in many parts of Europe often growing along grass verges and below bushes, with leaves and stems that are covered with a woolly layer.

It sows easily, naturalises well, is beloved by bees and quite simply makes the heart soar just to look at it. In spring we often make a delicious, dark-green borage soup, garnished with its blue flowers as festive decoration. It is also used as a herbal remedy for several disorders. FvZ.

Height 70cm. Origin Europe. Growing conditions Well-drained soil; full sun to part shade. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 2a-11. Season of interest Summer to autumn.

Acaena microphylla ‘Kupferteppich’

November flowers: Acaena microphylla ‘Kupferteppich’
© Jason Ingram

I grow this charming plant for its copper-coloured foliage, which comes into its own in autumn and winter. In summer the finely feathered foliage is punctuated by small, yellow flowers that in autumn develop into attractive red burrs. It makes a wonderful groundcover plant but doesn’t like to be overshadowed by others. It’s best grown in a gravel garden with plenty of light and air. It can also be used to great effect between paving slabs, as it is robust enough to tolerate being occasionally trodden on. TB

Height10-20cm.OriginGarden origin (species from New Zealand). ConditionsWell-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 7a-8b.
Season of interest
Interesting foliage throughout the year.

Miscanthus nepalensis

Miscanthus nepalensis
© Jason Ingram

Miscanthus is generally thought of as a robust and solid grass for the back of a border, but this species has a delicacy that can elude more vigorous miscanthus and gracefully achieves a height of only around 1.5m. During November, the plumes have an elegance when they sway in the breeze and display an ease of movement and transparency that is incredibly appealing. If you believe there is no room for grasses in your garden then I suggest you give this one a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. TB

Height 1-1.5m. Origin Himalayas. Conditions Well-drained, reasonable garden soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 6a-8b. Season of interest Late summer flowering; seedheads into winter.

Rosa ‘Geranium’

Rosa ‘Geranium’
© Jason Ingram

This much-loved Rosa moyesii hybrid is incredibly robust and disease resistant. In summer it has large, delicately fragrant, bright-red blooms that in September make way for attention-grabbing rosehips to bring a final hurrah to your beds and borders. Achieving a height of around two metres, it’s extremely effective at the back of a mixed border, patiently waiting in the background for its moment in the late autumn, when as perennials begin to fade, it reveals its fruitful beauty in all of its glory. AGM. TB

Height 1.5-2m. Origin Garden origin (species China). Conditions Moist but well-drained, fertile soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 4a-9b. Season of interest Flowering during the summer, fruiting autumn into winter.

Colletia paradoxa

Colletia paradoxa
© Jason Ingram

A plant that won’t be to everyone’s taste. In late autumn and winter its small, white flowers – which appear among a fortress of spines – have a sweet, almost honey and almond-like scent that is quite enchanting. On closer observation – but be careful, not to get too close – you’ll see that what on first glance appear to be the leaves are actually modified triangular stems. The true leaves are small and often appear in spring. If you’re intrigued, there’s a wonderful specimen in the winter garden of Hillier’s in Hampshire. TB

Height 2.5-4m. Origin Uruguay and southern Brazil. Conditions Tolerant of most well-drained soils; sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 7a-9b. Season of interest Early autumn to winter.

Euonymus hamiltonianus subsp. sieboldianus ‘Coral Charm’

Euonymus hamiltonianus subsp. sieboldianus ‘Coral Charm’
© Jason Ingram

A wonderful, deciduous, tree-like Euonymus that has tremendous autumn colour. In cold weather, its leaves gracefully drop to the ground to reveal clusters of coral-pink fruits with orange-red seeds that can persist well into winter, and which are a glorious sight when kissed with frost on a crisp, sunny November day. Makes a super tree for a smaller garden or as a lower-storey shrub in a woodland garden. TB

Height 4-8m. Origin Korea and Japan. Conditions Moist but free-draining soil; full sun or partial shade. Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 7a-8b. Season of interest Autumn and late winter.

Here's our guide on how to grow euonymus

Acer griseum

Acer griseum
© Jason Ingram

In late autumn and winter, when its papery, peeling bark is backlit, it has a wonderful translucent quality. For the most dramatic effect, it is best sited where it can be viewed from all angles, and light can penetrate the peeling bark. Introduced from China by the plant hunter Ernest Wilson in 1901, it is slow growing and will struggle in exposed garden situations, but place this paperbark maple in the right site, with the right growing conditions, and you’ll be patting yourself on the back for years to come. AGM. TB

Height 4-8m. Origin Central China. Conditions Fertile, moist but well-drained soil; sun or partial shade. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 4a-8b. Season of interest Autumn foliage and winter stem interest.

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’
© Jason Ingram

Flowering plants are few and far between at this time of year. Coronillas have soft-yellow flowers that are sweetly citrus scented and appear on stems that scramble and ramble over the ground in a charmingly haphazard way. Coronillas will grow happily in a container with extra grit in the compost to allow plenty of air through the roots in those winter months, but avoid exposed sites, which can become waterlogged in winter. AGM. TB

Height 50cm-1m. Origin Garden origin (subspecies from Mediterranean France to Albania). Conditions Well-drained soil with moisture during the summer; sheltered position in sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 9a-10b. Season of interest Late autumn and winter.

Galactites tomentosa

Galactites tomentosa
© Jason Ingram

In midsummer, this milk thistle produces scented, purple flowers that are much loved by bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. But it’s in autumn and winter when you can really appreciate its stunning crisp, white-and-green variegated foliage. It is among the most stunning foliage found in gardens during November. This thistle adores free-draining, sun-rich locations in the garden and, once established, has great drought-tolerant qualities. I find it best to collect the seed and sow them straight away as viability can be erratic. TB

Height 50cm-1m. Origin Mediterranean and southwestern Europe. Conditions Free draining soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H4, USDA 9a-10b. Season of interest Flowering in summer but excellent crisp foliage in winter.

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’

Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’
© Jason Ingram

Few plants can rival a cherry tree when in full bloom, but this one also has flame-like autumn foliage to give the blossom a run for its money. If you have only a small garden then it pays to demand more from your plants, and this compact Prunus not only gives two bursts of interest it also offers great winter structure. But, trust me, once you see i t in late autumn, backlit by the crisp autumn light, you’ll want this tree for your garden. AGM. TB

Height 1.5-2.5m. Origin Garden origin (species from Japan). Conditions Fertile, well-drained soil in sun or partial shade. Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 7a-8b.
Season of interest Spring flowering and colourful autumn foliage.

Abelia x grandiflora

Abelia x grandiflora
© Jason Ingram

Plants that have become popular garden fixtures can easily be overlooked in favour of something new and unknown. But sometimes, it’s worth reminding ourselves that plants such as Abelia x grandiflora have remained popular for a reason. It is incredibly versatile, providing structure and soft-pink flowers from early summer to late autumn. Given a reasonable garden soil, it is trouble free and stands strong with glossy foliage. A plant that offers structure without compromising colour and flowers. TB

Height 2.5-4m. Origin Garden hybrid between Abelia chinensis and Abelia uniflora. Conditions Fertile, moist but well-drained soil; sun. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 5a-9b. Season of interest Flowering from early summer into late autumn.

Sorbus pseudohupehensis ‘Pink Pagoda’

Its beautiful, feathered, blue-green leaves have a greyish underside, and in autumn turn a glorious rich red. In spring it is covered in white flowers, which grow in pyramidal clusters, and are followed by dark-pink berries. Unlike other rowan berries, these pretty pink ones aren’t loved by birds, so the display continues until the following spring. It’s a small tree that is easy to grow and is able to withstand extremes of heat, cold, strong winds and drought. AGM. FvZ

Height 8m. Origin Garden origin (species China). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H6. Season of interest Autumn.

Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’

November flowers: Allium thunbergii Ozawa
© Maayke de Ridder

This ornamental onion flowers late, from September to November, producing clusters of bright-purple to purple-pink flowers. Its thin, hollow, grassy leaves are attractive throughout the growing season and even turn slightly orange when temperatures fall below freezing. It forms neat clumps, so it is also suitable for pots. The species was first introduced from Japan in the 18th century, but this cultivar, which is more compact and flowers richly, was selected by the nurseryman George Schenk in Washington State, USA. FvZ

Height 40cm. Origin Garden origin (species Japan, China, Korea). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H5, USDA 4a-9b. Season of interest Autumn.

Here's our guide to growing alliums

Nepeta kubanica

November flowers:Nepeta kubanica
© Maayke de Ridder

The large, purple-blue flowers of this nepeta rise beautifully above its large, fresh-green leaves, giving it a transparent feel. Its real strength comes to the fore after flowering when the purple spiked seedpods stand in whorls along the stem. They create a strong architectural effect in late autumn, when the upper half of the plant with the bushy seedpods turns a violet red. It looks beautiful when it is grown above a subtle grass, such as Sporobolus heterolepis, but can also be used to unusual and stunning effect when it’s combined with late-flowering anemones. FvZ

Height 80cm. Origin Russian region of Kuban (Caucasus). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H7. Season of interest Summer to autumn.

Deyeuxia effusiflora

November flowers: Calamagrostis brachytricha
© Maayke de Ridder

At first sight this grass looks like Calamagrostis brachytricha, but the leaves are slightly wider and the plumes looser and more airy, attaining a soft, purple glow. It was found in 2010 by Cassian Schmidt, director of Hermannshof in Germany, on Mount Lu in central China at an altitude of 1,100m. In some winter lights, the leaves and plumes appear gold, while in others they can look silver. Its elegant, eye-catching panicles mean this is a grass that stands out as a solitary beauty in the middle of a border or in a prairie-style planting. It also works well as a contrast for the hard winter contours of hedges and buildings. FvZ

Height 1.2m. Origin China. Conditions Well-drained dry soil; full sun. Hardiness RHS H7. Season of interest Autumn.

Fuchsia ‘Blacky’

November flowers: Fuchsia Binny Plants Black
© Maayke de Ridder

Like most fuchsias, ‘Blacky’ flowers non-stop from summer to late autumn, provided temperatures remain above freezing. We first came across this new cultivar, from Billy Carruthers at Binny Plants, at last year’s Great Dixter Autumn Plant Fair and fell for its very large flowers in a dark, black purple and purplish red. It’s an improved version of Fuchsia ‘Roesse Blacky’ with a chalice that looks like a ruffle skirt and slips that curl up. It’s a large, upright plant better suited for pots than for hanging baskets, and its almost-black fruits, which are over 1cm, are also very tasty. FvZ

Height 70cm. Origin Garden origin (species Mexico). Conditions Well-drained soil; full sun to part shade. Hardiness RHS H2. Season of interest Summer to autumn.

Looking for more information on fuchsia?

Plectranthus argentatus

November flowers: Plectranthus argentatus
© Maayke de Ridder

Although its foliage provides interest from spring, the plant doesn’t bloom until late in the summer. But the blue spikes, when they do appear, stand out beautifully against the silver-grey leaves, making this a wonderful plant for a hot border where it provides a cooling contrast to more intense colours. In common with all Plectranthus species it’s not hardy, but is easy to propagate from seed or cuttings and does well in pots. Some species of Isodon, such as Isodon excisus, have a similar look for a hardy alternative. FvZ

Height 80cm. Origin Australia. Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; part shade. Hardiness RHS H1C. Season of interest Spring to
early winter.

Astilbe ‘Beauty of Ernst’

November flowers: Astilbe 'Colour Flash'
© Maayke de Ridder

A cultivar, introduced in 2005 by the Dutch grower Henk Holtmaat. In summer the bright-green spring leaves mature to a purple colour then in autumn these fade to a wide colour spectrum that ranges from green and purple to gold, orange and deep red, which probably accounts for its alternative selling name of ‘Color Flash’. The pale-pink blooms, held on upright stems, also offer good autumn colour and, after flowering, dry to form reddish-brown silhouettes. FvZ

Height 60cm. Origin Garden origin (species China, Japan). Conditions Moist, rich soil; part to full shade. Hardiness RHS H7, USDA 5a-8b. Season of interest Autumn.

Saxifraga ‘Shiranami’

November flowers: Saxifraga fortunei Shiranami
© Maayke de Ridder

The name of this Japanese cultivar translates as ‘white wave’ and the abundant, pure-white, double flowers that froth above slightly hairy, apple-green leaves on short stems look like stylised sea foam. So stunning are its flowers, which without night frost will bloom until December, that it feels out of place among the often messy mix of browns in the late autumnal border and is better placed in nice pot on the terrace. This cultivar may be Japanese but the species, Saxifraga fortunei, is from China brought to Europe in the 19th century by the Scottish plant hunter Robert Fortune. FvZ

Height 30cm. Origin Garden origin (species China). Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; full sun to part shade. Hardiness RHS H4. Season of interest Autumn.

Clematis ‘Polish Spirit’

November flowers: Clematis viticella Polish Spirit
© Maayke de Ridder

One of our favourite clematis. The medium-sized, dark-violet flowers contrast nicely with the fresh-green leaves. It is a clematis with a rich and long flowering period and one that is strong and almost never suffers from wilting disease. It is a good grower that can be easily guided through bushes and small trees such as Elaeagnus ‘Quicksilver’. It also combines wonderfully with climbing roses, such as the yellow ‘Golden Showers’, the voluptuous pink ‘Eden Rose’ or the single-flowered Open Arms (= ‘Chewpixcel’). AGM. FvZ

Height 3m. Origin Hybrid of garden origin. Conditions Moist but well-drained soil; full sun to part shade. Hardiness RHS H6. Season of interest Late summer to autumn.

Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii

Glory Tree (Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii)
Clerodendrum trichotomum var. fargesii © Richard Bloom

A deciduous shrub bearing fragrant, white flowers in autumn, the green calyces then turn purple-pink as the turquoise berries mature. Needs shelter, sun or part shade. 8m x 8m. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 7a-10b.

Crocus speciosus

Crocus speciosus
Crocus speciosus © Richard Bloom

Has delicate, lilac-blue autumn flowers marked with a tracery of dark mauve veins and a white throat. Plant en masse in poor to moderately fertile soil. 10cm x 10cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 3a-10b.

Here's our growing guide on crocus

Darmera peltata

Darmera peltata  © Richard Bloom

Clusters of pale-pink flowers topping tall, bristly stems in spring are followed by rounded leaves to 45cm across, which turn rich red in autumn. 1.5m x 1m. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 5a-7b.

Salvia ‘Amistad’

Salvia Amistad
Salvia Amistad © Richard Bloom

A bushy, upright perennial bearing striking, deep-purple, tubular flowers with black calyces from July to the first frosts. Needs moderately fertile, well-drained soil and shelter. 1.2m x 20cm. AGM. RHS H3, USDA 8a-11.

Pennisetum villosum

Pennisetum villosum
Pennisetum villosum © Richard Bloom

A mound of narrow, light green leaves is topped in summer with masses of feathery, whitish-green panicles ageing to purple. Requires sunshine and good drainage. 50cm x 50cm. AGM. RHS H3.

Cornus ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’

Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder'
Cornus 'Eddie's White Wonder' © Richard Bloom

A large, rounded deciduous shrub renowned for its display of flowers with overlapping, broad, white bracts in late spring. Autumn foliage is red and purple. 8m x 4m. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 6a-9b.

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Hylotelephium ‘Red Cauli’

Hylotelephium 'Red Cauli'
Hylotelephium 'Red Cauli' © Richard Bloom

A drought-tolerant, clump-forming perennial, with dark- red stems, dark-green leaves and flat heads of bright pink flowers in late summer and early autumn. 1m x 50cm. AGM. RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b.

Clematis tangutica

Clematis tangutica
Clematis tangutica © Richard Bloom

A vigorous deciduous climber with nodding, lantern-shaped single blooms in early summer and autumn, followed by long-lasting, attractive silky seedheads. 8m x 4m. RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides

Metasequoia glyptostroboides foliage
Metasequoia glyptostroboides foliage © Richard Bloom

A fast-growing deciduous conifer with orange-brown bark. The feathery leaflets are fresh green in spring, fading to mid-green then tawny brown before falling. 12m+ x 4m. RHS H7, USDA 4a-8b.

Acacia pravissima

Acacia pravissima, Carex comans bronze-leaved
Acacia pravissima  © Richard Bloom

An evergreen shrub decked with masses of leaf-like, triangular, winged leaf-stalks, or phyllodes, and small, yellow flowerheads in late winter and early spring. Needs shelter. 4m x 2.5m. AGM. RHS H3, USDA 8a-10b.

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca ‘Citrina’

Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca
Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca © Richard Bloom

Needing shelter in cooler climates, this evergreen shrub flowers profusely in mid spring then produces its deep-yellow, fragrant flowers intermittently through the rest of the year.
1m x 1m. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 8b-10a†.

Chrysanthemum pacificum

Chrysanthemum pacificum
Chrysanthemum pacificum © Richard Bloom

An attractive mound of delicate, silver-edged leaves offsets the tight clusters of tufted, yellow flowers. Ideal for clay or sandy soil in full sun. 50cm x 30cm. RHS H7, USDA 5a-9b.

Liriope muscari

Liriope muscari
Liriope muscari © Richard Bloom

An attractive plant that forms dense clumps of narrow, arching, dark-green evergreen leaves. Spikes of small, violet-purple flowers in autumn are followed by black berries. Tolerant of drought and shade. 50cm x 50cm. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 5a-10b.

Euonymus carnosus ‘Red Wine’

Euonymus carnosus 'Red Wine'
Euonymus carnosus 'Red Wine' © Richard Bloom

A semi-evergreen shrub with unusual white flowers from mid to late summer, followed by persistent, claret, autumn foliage and pink fruits with cream seeds. 2m x 2m. RHS H6, USDA 4a-7b.

Cuphea cyanea

Cuphea cyanea
Cuphea cyanea © Richard Bloom

An exotic, half-hardy perennial with deep-green foliage. Narrow, tubular, coral-red flowers, tipped with greenish yellow, appear from June to October. Sun or part shade. 60cm x 90cm. USDA 9a-11.

Nerine bowdenii ‘Alba’

Nerine bowdenii 'Alba'
Nerine bowdenii 'Alba' © Richard Bloom

Pure-white blooms appear from late summer onwards. Ideal for a hot sunny spot, given time it forms large clumps. It is a long-lasting cut flower. 50cm x 10cm. RHS H5, USDA 7a-10b.


As head gardener at West Dean College in West Sussex, Tom Brown has an avid enthusiasm for great, garden-worthy plants. Tom is also an RHS Show Judge and Herbaceous Committee Member.

Fleur van Zonneveld is a plant and nurserywoman who owns Nursery de Klein Plantage.

Mat Reese is head gardener at Malverleys Gardens