Landscape Elements: Using Perennials & Seasonal Color

Creating a landscape that has blooms or colorful foliage in each season is always a goal of mine. This is more challenging for the fall and winter seasons. We focused in the last article on shrubs that brought color into your garden during these seasons. Mixing perennials and seasonal annuals into a landscape helps you build those layers we’ve talked about before and bring you big pops of color.

Perennials (plants that come back each year) and seasonal annuals (plants that last one season) are usually smaller in size and fit in towards the front of your beds and can also be used as borders. Create “pockets of color” in your landscape for planting both perennials and annuals as shown below.

Perennials awaken each spring and most sleep during the winter months. There are a few varieties that do provide colorful foliage or blooms during the fall and winter.

Here’s a few that perform well in East Texas:

Salvia Greggii – Blooms spring through first hard freeze in a variety of colors

Mums – bright colored flowers in the fall

Red Hot Poker – Striking flower spikes bloom in fall

Heuchera (Coral Bells) – Brightly colored foliage continues to deliver through the fall and winter months

Helleborus (Lenten Rose) – blooms in the winter, a very unusual plant.

Carex or Sedge Short, clumping grass in a variety of colors and variegation, used as borders or accents

Coastal Muhly Grass – Showy display of pink feathers during fall

Autumn Fern – Gets it’s name from the new growth starting as a bronze color which changes to green as the frond matures, stays evergreen year-round.

Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks) – Colors deepen to reds as the weather cools off

Groundcover Sedum– Low growing in a variety of colors and leaf shapes that are hardy through winter

Upright Sedum– Blooms in fall into winter and is evergreen throughout the year

There are not as many seasonal annuals to choose from in the fall and winter months, but the different colors available more than make up for that.

Let’s focus on the fall bloomers first:


Snapdragons – bloom in a variety of colors in the fall and then again the next spring

Garden Petunias

Petunias – available in fall colors to be planted in the ground and in containers

Asters – adds blue and pink to the landscape

Dianthus – bright pops of white, pink, red, bicolor on mounding shaped plants


Cyclamen – Beautiful, upright flowers in cool weather, protect from frost and freeze, best for containers.


Stock – an aromatic bloomer, available in white, pink, purple, red


Pansies – the star of fall and winter flowers. Available in sooo many colors and mixes that everyone can find one they must have. Continues to bloom throughout the season.

Swiss Chard – bright, neon colored stems with frilly lettuce looking leaves. Is also edible.

Ornamental Cabbage & Kale – Round, ruffled plants that the center changes to a brilliant white, pink or purplish/red once cold weather arrives. Plant in the ground or in containers.

These are just some ideas of perennials and annuals available and I suggest combining both in your landscape. It’s an easy way to add happy splashes of color throughout your yard to brighten those sometimes dreary, wintery days.

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