From the Desk of Ed Hume: Fall-Flowering Plants
As summer comes to an end, it always amazes me that most home gardens come to an end too! That’s too bad, because there are some really colorful plants that one can add to the garden that will extend the seasonal flowering season. You know that goes for the vegetable garden too! Why don’t we grow more fall and winter vegetables?
The advantage of many of the autumn and winter flowering plants is that they are permanent perennials and deciduous or evergreen plants. That means they’ll provide color year after year. I highly recommend that you shy away from dark flower colors in the autumn garden, as they usually do not show up very well on cloudy, dark days. Here are just a few of my favorites:
HEATHER – The fall and winter varieties of Heather are evergreens. They are covered with a mass of flowers for weeks and in some cases the varieties bloom for months. There are a wide variety of flower colors and varying growth habits. I especially like the winter varieties, as they are showy now because of their flower buds, followed by prolific flowers later. I won’t mention varieties here, because you really should visit your local plant place to determine which varieties you like the best.
FALL MUMS, MICHAELMAS DAISIES, SEDUMS – These are all colorful early autumn flowering perennials. The fall chrysanthemums come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, and many make excellent cut flowers. Michaelmas daisies also come in various growing heights and often in shades of lavender, purple, and deep red. The smaller flowers cover the plants and are ideal for cutting. Autumn Joy is my favorite variety of the fall flowering sedums. Autumn Joy and the taller varieties of Michaelmas daisies and mums may need staking support because of fall rains or seasonal wind storms.
WINTER PANSIES – These can be quite showy during most winters. Severe cold will effect their flowering, but plants usually re-bloom as weather moderates. (Our winter pansies from last winter are still flowering in this year’s garden.) Winter pansies come in a wide range of flower sizes and colors.
SASANQUA CAMELLIA, LAURESTINUS, STRAWBERRY TREE – All three of these evergreens bloom during the autumn season. The Sasanqua type camellias come in a shades of red, rose, pink, and white. Growth habits vary by variety. Flowers are smaller then the spring flowering camellias. Laurestinus (Viburnum tinus) begins flowering in October or November and continues until late April. Light pink flower clusters stand out above the evergreen foliage. This is an especially nice flowering evergreen because of the six month flowering season. Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) has clusters of white flowers during the autumn and early winter. This large evergreen shrub/tree also has a reddish autumn fruit that looks a bit like a strawberry, hence the name Strawberry tree.
Needless to say, these are just a few of my favorite flowering plants. There are a lot more! Later this week I’ll discuss some of the colorful plants that have marvelous autumn leaf color. Some are a “must” for seasonal leaf color. Right now is the ideal time to select and plant these and other autumn flowering plants.
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