That is a great question – most of us focus on leaf color vs. flowers at this time of year. There are quite a few options. I will touch on a triplet that I feel are particularly spectacular:
Sasanqua (Camellia sasanqua) – arguably the queen of autumn-blooming shrubs, popping with flowers in shades of pink, white and red. More sun-tolerant than other camellias but a bit of afternoon shade is welcome. Even moisture with good drainage is key to their success. New hybrids that are compact, variegated and fragrant are being introduced.
Fried Egg Tree (Polyspora axillaris) - a camellia relative, 15-20 feet tall, with narrow evergreen leaves and large white flowers that have frilly petals set with a striking central cluster of bright yellow stamens. Flowers drop off and lay flat on the ground, looking just like fried eggs. Same care as sasanqua. 
Bridal Veil (Clerodendrum wallichii) – this subtropical shrub, up to 8 feet tall, from India and Nepal is unrivaled for elegance in the autumn garden. Shiny evergreen leaves form the backdrop for breathtaking, foot-long, pendulous, racemes of white flowers that dance in the slightest breeze. It needs a sheltered shady spot with moist, well-drained soil. It does not sprout nuisance suckers like other clerodendrums and may freeze in a hard winter but will regrow and bloom again the next autumn. 
While sasanquas are easily found, the other two may require some research to locate, but I can assure you that you will discover that they are well worth the effort!



David Duling is the director of Mercer Botanic Gardens in Humble. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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