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Moss' Top Ten Plants of November

A dramatic final show for the season

November brings the first hint of real cold to Chicago. Shortening days, less intense sunlight, and cooler temps signal the plants to enter dormancy. While most are winding down or already hibernating, some are still finishing their show and a few with hardy constitutions are just beginning.

As always, tropical, mild winter, and Chicago winter hardy plants comprise the list.  


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apples for sale

Mutsu Apples
(Malus 'Mutsu')

Deciduous, small tree up to 30'+. This late ripening apple is one of the few that are still crisp going into winter. We typically buy a half bushel from Adolph, that last deep into the winter. Ornamental crab apples can have colorful fall foliage.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

ladybug on witch hazel flower

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

Deciduous, small tree to 20'. Typically grown as a large shrub. In the best specimens, golden autumn foliage is followed by a profusion of aromatic, lemon-yellow flowers. Depending on location this native plant can bloom from October to January.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

chokeberry fall color

Chokeberry (Aronia cultivars)

Deciduous, mid-sized shrub to 6'. Red to black berries crowded on tips of the branches along with colorful foliage. Bitter berries of this native plant are eaten by birds. Great substitute for non-native, invasive burning bush.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

burning bush

Burning Bush
(Euonymus alata)

Deciduous, large shrub to 15'. Flame red fall foliage with red berries along leaf axils. Exotic shrub can spread invasively by seeds. Good choice for urban landscapes, but not recommended for suburbs or landscapes near natural areas.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

red yucca

Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora)

Evergreen perennial to 3'. Spikes of small red flowers from summer through fall. Stiff, grass-like foliage is ornamental year round. This half-hardy succulent is native to the dry prairies and hillsides of Texas. Commonly planted throughout the Southwest. Attracts hummingbirds.

Mild winters. Subtropical climates.

raydons favorite aster

Raydon's Favorite Aster (Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite')

Stoloniferous perennial to 3'. Best specimens are covered in scores of large, light purple flowers through the first hard frost (28 degrees F). In my garden the only and typically the last bloomer at Thanksgiving. A boon to bees on warm autumn day. A must have for the four season gardener.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

chrysanthemum pacificum

Gold & Sliver Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum pacificum))

Stoloniferous perennial to 2'. Worth growing simply for the ornamental mounding foliage. Not happy in my Chicago backyard, but survived for many years. Doesn't bud til October. Only with mild fall weather does it reach full bloom.

Mild winters. Temperate climates.

reblooming iris

Re-blooming Iris (Iris cultivars)

Rhizomatous perennial to 18". Many cultivars bloom just as heavy in fall as in spring. A beautiful paradox in the autumn garden. Replace all regular bearded irises with double duty re-bloomers. Best in mild winters. Autumn show often curtailed by hard frost. Great cutflower.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

saffron crocus close

Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus)

Bulbous corm with grass-like foliage. One or two flowers per corm. Reddish orange pistils are the source of culinary saffron. Most vigorous and floriferous in mild winter areas. Foliage elongates throughout winter.

Mild winters. Temperate and subtropical climates.

eucharis amazonica flower
Amazon Lily
(Eucharis amazonica)
Evergreen, bulbous perennial to 24". Fragrant flowers resemble large daffodils. . Unlike most Amaryllidaceae with boring, strap-like foliage, Amazon lily has decorative, glossy, lanceolate to elliptical leaves. This makes Amazon lily a great houseplant even when not in bloom. Subtropical to tropical climates.

wemoss.org 2008, Last Updated November 6, 2008