Q: It’s too hot to be outside; what should I plan to plant in the fall?

A: The Houston area has a resurgence of new plants that look fabulous as the weather changes. Many of these perennial bloomers coincide with migrating monarchs, hummingbirds and other creatures that rely on plants for food. In turn, the plants rely on wildlife for pollination and seed dispersal.

Cardinal flower

(Lobelia cardinalis) is stunning. This plant has a ground-hugging rosette of maroon/green leaves, then a 2- to 3-foot spike topped with rich red flowers. It is an absolute hummingbird magnet. This plant loves saturated soil and is partial to full sun.


Mistflowers (Conoclinium/Eupatorium species) come in lavender/blue, pink or white. Mistflowers can grow from 8 inches up to 4 feet, depending on the species or hybrid. Covered in fringy, colorful clusters, butterflies love them.

Behind mistflowers is a great place to plant goldenrod (Solidago species). Since local varieties tend to grow up to 6 feet tall, these can be pruned during growth to encourage branching, a shorter stature and more blooms. Christmas-tree-shaped clusters of small, yellow flowers provide pollen and nectar, a veritable buffet for every type of insect. Despite misconception, goldenrod does not aggravate fall allergies, but is often blamed since ragweed blooms at the same time. You can enjoy this contrasting color combination that occurs naturally along roadsides and in sunny Texas prairies.

When the weather cools, there is plenty of time to perk up color in your garden.


Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Suzzanne Chapman, retired botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens, promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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