Autumn Perennials

April in Africa means warm and mild weather that many autumn perennials love. Take advantage of this by adding their flower power to your autumn garden to keep the summer look for longer.

Autumn perennials have herbaceous stems and will live longer than three years due to strong root systems. This enables the plants to overwinter even though the top growth has died down. These powerful root systems will penetrate deeply in search of nutrients and water. They will keep on ticking over with fresh sprouts as soon as the season has changed and conditions are favourable once again.

We love these autumn perennials because…

  • They are easy to grow and will soon form dense clumps which can be divided in spring to get more plants.
  • If you plant many of them, you do not have to plant such a lot of seasonal annuals to keep your colour run going.
  • Most will give you a harvest of good cut flowers.

General Growing Tips for Autumn Perennials

  • Plant all in compost-enriched, well-draining soil with bonemeal added. 
  • Water them regularly. 
  • Fertilise during summer and early autumn with a slow-releasing all-purpose granular fertiliser. 
  • Deadhead them frequently and then cut them back in early winter, supplying an organic mulch around the root system afterwards.

READ MORE: Looking for perennials for your veggie garden? Click here!

Angel Wings

Gaura lindheimeri, a native of North America, might have a delicate look. But it can endure quite harsh winters in its dormant state. It has a lengthy flowering season and an abundance of flowers from spring until late autumn. We have seen many gaura hybrids over the years all performing to satisfaction, but top of the pops lately, is the compact ‘Belezza’ range available in white, pink, and dark pink. Size about 46 x 60cm.

Blanket Flower

Gaillardia x grandiflora normally produces a mass of daisy-like two-tone flowers – mostly rusty red with yellow tips. A new range recommended wholeheartedly, is ‘Mesa’ for its drought tolerance and sturdiness preventing the flower stems from flopping over, such as many perennials loaded with flowers are prone to do. There is an interesting colour variation in this range including clear yellow, bicolour and red.


The old Bidens ferulifoli is back with aplomb and plays an important part in a modern rewilding garden as it attracts butterflies and bees. ‘Golden Empire’ has a strong upright and mounded growth habit with extra-large, semi-double golden blooms and deeply serrated fresh green foliage. Mature size is about 25 x 30cm. ‘Pretty in Pink’ has the same compact growth habit with pink petals striped in purple. Mature size is about 25 x 60 cm.

Blue Felicia

Many a girl child in South Africa is called Felicia – probably in honour of the indigenous Felicia amelloides with its daisy flowers with sky-blue petals and sunny yellow centres. This is a fast growing and hardy evergreen perennial which will flower almost year long in temperate climates. Every cutback after a flowering phase will stimulate new growth and more happy flower faces. Established plants self-seed regularly.


Coreopsis grandiflora seed used to blow in from somewhere germinated easily, and before you new it, the yellow flowers would appear. This plant was often treated as a weed, but the tough old veld flower from the Americas turned over a new leaf with a compact growth form and a much better resistance against powdery mildew. ‘Double the Sun’ has bright, double yellow flowers and ‘Uptick’ produces bigger two-tone, single flowers on neat and compact plants.

Canna Lily

Cannas are not a thing of the past; they are back in a glorious range called ‘Cannova’ with tropical-looking large leaves and flowers in popping colours. What sets ‘Cannova’ apart from the wild (and sometimes invasive) canna species we used to know, is rapid growth, long-flowering, great branching which means more flowers, and a tolerance for cooler conditions. Since it was bred from F1 seed it would also be sterile and cannot be propagated genetically. Size about 120 x 50cm.

Cone Flower

The old-fashioned species Echinacea purpurea with its prominent cone and curving pink petals has always been a popular late season perennial attracting butterflies in summer and feeding the birds with its dried seed heads in early winter before going dormant. Hybridising resulted in the development of more compact and sturdy plants in a variety of warm colours like yellow, salmon pink, orange and red in the ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ range. You can also opt for ‘PowWow Wild Berry’ and ‘PowWow White’.

Egyptian Starcluster

Pentas lanceolata is native to tropical southern Africa, the Comoros, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula and any climatic conditions will determine whether they should be treated as annuals or perennials. The series ‘Lucky Star’ consist of compact, upright growing plants with lush and hairy bright green leaves and clusters of flowers in dark red, deep pink, raspberry, violet and white. The plants need little to no maintenance and are avid re-bloomers not needing any pampering. Size is about 40 x 35cm.

Obedience Plant

Physostegia virginiana is a typical late season perennial with strong spikes of light purple tubular flowers. It has always been a popular garden cut flower despite sometimes flopping over and with aging flowers that tends to fade to brown too soon. PhysostegiaCrystal Peak White’ rings the changes with sturdy stems and a size of 40 x 40cm with upright terminal flower spikes of snow-white blooms that don’t fade to brown.

Shasta Daisy

LeucanthemumDaisy Mae’ wastes no time to form dense, well-branched clumps with tall flower stems (30 – 50cm) high. They hold up huge crispy white daisy flowers with bright yellow centres. The flowering season is from spring to the end of autumn when it will go dormant for a short repose. Lovely, long-lasting cut flower.

Blue Salvia

One can pick and choose from a massive range of salvia species and modern hybrids which are the mainstay of a summer and autumn garden. They are just so easy to grow and can withstand basically any conditions. A hybrid valued for its dark blue flowers (a scarce colour amongst flowers) is Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ which reaches a size of 60 x 50cm.


Rudbeckia hirta can generally be identified by its golden yellow petals surrounding a prominent dark cone and hairy leaves. They are short-lived perennials and often treated as long-flowering annuals in cold climates. Great hybrids vary from the dwarf ‘Toto’ (20 – 25cm), to Rudbeckia ‘Denver Daisy’ (65 x 50cm) with huge bicolour blooms on well-branched plants. This one is perfect for a cut flower garden.

READ MORE: Take a closer look at these Really Resilient Perennials!

The Gardener