Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, Fall is just around the corner and soon it will be time to freshen up your yard. When you think about planting for the Fall, you probably are thinking about trees and shrubs and perennials–but I begin to think about fall decorating with mums, asters and pansies. Those are the staples of a fall garden, but did you know there are many other items that will flourish through the fall until frost?
One of my favorite underused fall annuals is calibrachoa (million bells) which resemble tiny petunias: many varieties are trailing and will spill nicely over containers, walls and beds. We also have Celosia “Intenz” and “Twisted.” I love the “Twisted” celosia as it has unique foliage and a fantastic cockscomb flower (kids say it reminds them of a brain). Of course sweet alyssum, snapdragons and dianthus also grow spectacularly well in the fall garden. All of the above plants will provide color well into the fall until a killing frost arrives– so enjoy!
Let’s get down to the very best plant to put into your garden in the fall: pansies! Fall is the best time to plant your pansies, because the still warm soil temperatures give them plenty of time to produce a good root system leading into the cooler temperatures of Fall and Winter. By planting these in the Fall you will be totally rewarded with two seasons of absolute enjoyment from these cold weather favorites. There are so very many colors and varieties to choose from including solid colors, flowers with bright smiling faces and the old favorite, violas. As flowers fade you should remove the spent flowers so the plant doesn’t use all of its energy to set seed. Keep the soil moist and, after the ground freezes, mulch the plants to reduce the frequency of the soil freezing and thawing. (You want to reduce the chance of “frost heave”. The repeated freezing of the soil can squeeze young plants that are not well-rooted out of the ground.)
Pansies are so versatile that they may be incorporated into the perennial bed or in between and under trees and shrubs to provide just a bit of color in every bed in your yard. Pansies are stunning in mass planting and provide curb appeal for those who are selling a home during the fall or early spring.
For the ultimate in fall harvest plantings don’t forget your mums, and flowering cabbage and kale. Blooms on mums last for weeks and they really like to strut their stuff in the garden.
by Marian Parsley, Seasonal Plants Buyer