It was last Saturday, September 23rd, at 2:50 in the morning when the Fall Equinox officially occurred welcoming the first day of Autumn in 2023. Perhaps, the Great Horned Owl was awake seeking a meadow vole scurrying through the dewy grass, but most of us were asleep as the equinox occurred. Equal parts of night and day: a perfect division of our 24 hours into 12 hours of dark and 12 hours of light. The evenly divided day and night are a cue to many plants that the end is near, and that it is time to accelerate the biological processes necessary to make seed in order to ensure future generations thrive on the landscape. A kiss of light frost frost is the final warning to complete this necessary cycle each year.
Not all plants wait until the very end to make their seed. Spring ephemerals complete their short life cycles in as little as a few weeks, while many other annuals and perennial plants have different lifespans from sprout to seed. These lifespans can be heavily influenced by weather as well, especially when we get intense periods of hot and cold or wet and dry. Dramatic changes from one condition to another can sometimes force a plant to go to seed quicker than normal as a defense mechanism to a particular stressor.
Some of our native perennials put on the best show this time of year including our Asters, Goldenrods, and Rudbeckia.
Each of these genus contains a few different native species and when you visit your local nursery you’ll find an even wider variety of cultivars therewithin. From deep golden yellows to light buttery hues, shades of purple and lavender to bright whites with bold eyes of many shades these late flowering perennials never disappoint. See below a list of my favorite species and cultivars of Asters, Rudbeckia, Solidagos, and enjoy the waning light of these lovely fall evenings as you watch the last few bees hurry to pollinate the goldenrod by the back porch.
Suggested Plant List
- Aster divaricatus White-wood Aster
- Aster cordiflious ‘Avondale’ Blue-wood Aster
- Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ White Heath Aster
- Aster novae-angliae New England Aster
- Solidago caesia Blue-Stem GoldenRod
- Solidago sempervirens Seaside GoldenRod
- Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ GoldenRod
- Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida Orange Coneflower
- Rudbeckia maxima Great ConeflowerRudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ Sweet Coneflower