What Blooms in Autumn

As the weather gets colder and winter slowly inches our way, the leaves are turning gold and the plants and flowers around the Aviary have begun to die off for the year. While walking around the Aviary grounds, however, you'll noticed a few flowers still in bloom! If you're wondering what plants not only survive, but thrive throughout the winter months, here is what our Horticulture team had to say:



"An often overlooked part of gardening, whether at home or at the Aviary, are fall blooming or fruit-bearing plants in a garden bed. Having these plants around are a huge help for local wildlife. Migrating birds and insects are grateful for a plentiful food source when it can become otherwise scarce. These plants provide seeds for munching and shelter for them while they travel to their winter destinations. You’ll be able to enjoy the extension of the beauty in your winter garden, as well! If you're around the Aviary this season, be sure to see if you can spot our 10 favorite autumn plants we have in our botanical garden." - Melanie Dyer, Lead Horticulturist




Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) - These trees provide shelter and nest sites during the growing season, the flowers are important for many nectar-eating insects, and the reddish fruits provide food for wildlife in fall through winter. A favorite of waxwings! You can find Hawthorns at the Aviary, at the east entrance of Expedition Kea.



Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) - In the spring, these rose-like blooms provide native bees and other insects with nectar, and the attractive lion-head-like seed heads attract birds during the fall. Look for Apache plume in the northeast corner of our King of the Andes exhibit.



Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) - A shrub with intense fall foliage, the staghorn sumac’s fruit clusters persist through the winter and provide a food source for native birds like chickadees. Staghorn sumacs can be found around the building where the restrooms are located, near our South American Pavilion.



Blue sage (Salvia azurea) - A tall, fall-blooming perennial with bright blue flowers that provide plentiful food for nectar-eating insects and birds. This plant can be found on the southwest side of our South American Pavilion.



Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) – A shrub with inconsequential flowers surrounded by ornate modified leaves called bracts. The bracts remain even after the flowers have faded, providing bloom-like clusters that hold through the winter months. Hydrangea can be found by the Aviary's Dabbling Ducks Pond.



Paperbark Maple (Acer Griseum) - A small tree with spectacular red-orange autumn foliage. The shiny orange bark exfoliates in papery layers- stunning year round, but particularly showy during winter. The winged fruits are a particular favorite of squirrels. You can find Paperbark Maples in the garden, north of Expedition Kea.



Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) - A native of Utah, this tall perennial is a food source for native butterflies and moths. The pearl-white bracts that surround the yellow disk flowers remain through the fall. Look for Pearly Everlasting in the gardens, south of South American Pavilion.



Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) - A native of the Wasatch mountains, this shrub is important browse for deer. The fruit form in the fall and remain through the winter, providing food for robins and thrushes. Snowberry, and its cousin coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), can be found near our Eagle Ridge exhibit.



Elderberry (Sambucus nigra spp canadensis) - The spring-blooming, white flowers and the fall-ripening, dark purple fruit are delicious to humans and wildlife alike. Elderberries are important browse for deer and elk and provide cover and nesting sites for many species of native birds. They can be found throughout the Aviary, including within the Kennecott Wetlands Immersion Experience as well as around our Pelican Pond.



Autumn Joy sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’) - An excellent addition to any waterwise garden, providing flowers from late summer through fall. Its blooms offer nectar for bees and other pollinating insects. Autumn Joy sedums can be found in the garden just south of the Aviary Gift Shop.


Plants provide so much for our nature and wildlife throughout the year. They are food for animals and habitat for wildlife. They also provide us with food, fiber, shelter, medicine, and fuel, not to mention the trees that give us the air we breath. They are a critical component to our environment, and our lives. No matter what season, plants are always in bloom here at Tracy Aviary. 




- Mackenzy Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator