Many people look forward to nature’s display of fall color, namely the turning of the leaves. But that’s several months off. Yet, the summer annuals are fading. You don’t have to wait for the leaves. Plant fall flowering plants now, beginning with your annuals.
Garden centers are beginning to take delivery of their fall annuals. You may think your only choice is chrysanthemums, but you have a wider choice for immediate fall color. Certainly, mums are the most popular and the harbinger of fall in the same way crocuses are the harbinger of spring. But you have more choices, including pansies, petunias, dianthus and ornamental cabbage to name just a few. Many will continue to bloom well after leaves fall, making them a very good investment.
Pansies can be annuals or perennials, depending on the hardiness zone. As might be expected, they are annuals here in our Zone 5 climate. However, they may grow back each year like several other plants that die off each fall and grow back each spring.
Fall flowering perennials include asters, fall crocuses, Joe Pye weed and some sedums. You can plant them and give them the same care you’d give any other perennial. Then you don’t have to worry about the best time to plant each one for fall color.
Mums are usually sold in pots. If you plant them in the ground, they can be planted as single clumps directly from the pots or split apart and planted in separate, smaller groupings. Some property owners prefer to plant mums in containers. You can remove them from the nursery pot and replant them in your decorative container. This allows you to divide the mums, so they fit your container. The alternative is to buy them in nursery pots that can just slip into your decorative containers.
If you prefer woody plants, there are also some shrubs that flower into the fall season in our Zone 5. They include panicle hydrangeas, viburnum and caryopteris. These and all the plants I’ve mentioned here are just a sampling. There are others as well. To find out what’s popular, and available, locally, visit your local garden center and talk to one of their horticulturists.
There’s still another alternative. Turn the design and installation of your fall flowering plant bed(s) over to our landscape professionals. Then all you need to do is enjoy your new planting beds right up until the snow flies. No trips to the garden center. No research. All you do is approve the design. If you have a favorite, we can incorporate that, too. Remember, landscapes are to enjoy, not to take all of your time maintaining.