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Moss' Top Ten Plants of September

Hooray for the changing of the season

September is one of my favorite months. Besides 11 wonderful years with my wife, I also get to celebrate my nephew's birthday, wrapping season 1 of "Dig In", and cooler temperatures! I love highs in the 60s or low 70s and so do many of my favorite plants. These late summer performers usher out the heat and welcome the coolness.

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


Click on thumb for larger image





reddish sumac leaf

Smooth Sumac
(Rhus glabra)

Deciduous, pithy, stoloniferous shrubs or small trees to 20'. Terminal spike of flowers in mid summer followed by tight cluster of red berries. Drought tolerant. Compound leaves provide a spectacular fall display. The only plant native to all 48 contiguous states.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate to subtropical climates.

joe pye

Himrod Grapes (Vitis labrusca "Himrod")

Deciduous vine to 25'. Sweet smelling flowers attract pollinators in June. Deliscous, sweet, golden, seedless grapes ripen in late August. Look for Himrod and Canadice at farmer's markets now. Himrod grapes make one of the best jams known to man.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

sunchoke flowers

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosa)

Large, spreading perennial to 12'. Beautiful, buttery yellow sunflowers bloom profusely. The knobby, tuberous roots (often sold as sun-chokes) are a tasty, starch-free substitute for potatoes. Dig tubers after flowers finish in mid autumn. Drought tolerant.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

solidago with bumblebee

(Solidago speciosa)

Spreading perennial to 6'. This common wildflower brings a mass of yellow to old fields and roadsides. Drought tolerant. Attracts lots of pollinators. Species identification is tricky. Unless you have a natural area, grow the cultivars.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

heath aster at morraine hills

Heath Aster (Aster ericoides)

Spreading perennial to 4'. A common plant of dry prairies and hillsides. There are several great cultivars available, including a prostrate form. Many asters are now technically Symphiotrichum, but it will always be an Aster to me. Drought tolerant. Attracts pollinators.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

colchicum speciosum patch

Autumn Crocus (Colchicum speciosum)

Bulbous perennial. Basal leaves to 12" go dormant in May. Flowers to 8" burst from the earth in September. Perfect under trees or in low groundcovers where the flowers will not be covered. A must have for the four season gardener.

Mild to cold winters. Temperate climates.

canna in coronado parkway

Canna (Canna x generalis)

Large spreading, rhizomatous perennial to 8'. Many cultivars grown more for the colorful foliage than bright terminal flowers. Prefers moist soil. After first frost, dig rhizomes, dry for a day, and store indoors in a box of wood chips.

Mild winters. Subtropical climates.

tithonia flower

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Annual to 6'. Leafy plants produce numerous, vibrant orange flowers at the end of the season. Best in the back of the border or combined with other tall plants of different colors. Full sun.



Heavenly Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea)

Annual vine to 12'. After months of vegetative growth, September is when our morning glories really shine. The large clear flowers of Heavenly Blue are my favorite. This one is lighting up my balcony as I write. Full sun


portulaca flowers
Moss Rose
(Portulaca grandiflora)
Creeping annual with succulent leaves. Like morning glories, late summer is the moss roses best show. These low maintenance plants bring a riot of color to containers or low borders. Full sun. Drought tolerant. Annual

wemoss.org 2007, Last Updated September 6, 2007