Colorful Vines and Groundcovers for the Fall Garden

Sweet autumn clematis with white flowers and fragrant beauty quickly climbs up trellises and arbors.
Photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC


Create a colorful and fragrant fall finale in your garden with groundcovers and vines. Blanket the earth with hardy groundcovers that add seasonal interest. Then direct your eye skyward with vines climbing on trellises, fences and arbors.

Add a cloud of fragrant beauty with the white flowers of sweet autumn clematis. This vigorous vine quickly covers arbors and trellises, providing a colorful screen, vertical accent or backdrop for other plants. Double the impact and increase bloom time by combining it with a hardy rose or the annual hyacinth bean vine.

Enjoy the colorful fruit of the native American bittersweet on the vine or in fall decorations. A relatively new introduction Autumn Revolution™ is self-fertile. That means only one plant is needed to produce fruit. No more planting at least two, a male and female, plant to enjoy the colorful fruit display.

The fanciful leaves of hostas provide texture and beauty at ground level. Enjoy their lovely yellow fall foliage that echoes the yellow fall color of ginkgoes, witchhazel, birches, and many other trees and shrubs.

The subtle reddening of barrenwort’s (Epimedium) heart shaped leaves add a delicate beauty to any shady spot. Watch the bold leaves of Bergeniatransform from green to red. The large leaves persist through winter and combine nicely with early spring bulbs like the squirrel resistant Crocustommasinianus.

Add a splash of reddish purple to the fall landscape with perennial geranium. The lobed colorful leaves persist through mild winters, adding color to the winter and early spring garden.

Help the pollinators and enjoy some late season blooms with fall-flowering sedums. Autumn Joy has been a long time favorite, but Autumn Fire is an improvement with larger flowers and a longer bloom time. Mr. Goodbud is another upright sedum with purple stems and smoky green foliage, providing the perfect backdrop for the purple-pink flowers.

The fall color of others like the bronzy-gold foliage of orange stonecrop add a blast of color to the garden.

Include some evergreen groundcovers to brighten the often brown and gray winter landscape.  European ginger, creeping phlox, candytuft (Iberis), creeping junipers, creeping mahonia, and many ferns are just a few to consider.

As always, make sure the groundcover and vine will thrive in the growing conditions. Start a list of colorful vines and groundcovers needed to set the fall landscape ablaze.

Melinda Myers is the author of more than 20 gardening books and is the host of The Great Courses’ How to Grow Anything DVD series.  Her website,, offers gardening tips and videos.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login