By Keri Byrum
With the promise of cooler weather, this is the time of year I start to think about our cool-season annuals and how to use them in my garden. My summer containers are so big right now, they need watering almost daily, and several plants are beyond their peak.
As I plan ahead I remember October is a great time to plant annuals that last through the winter and early spring. You are probably familiar with many of these if you moved to the Gulf Coast from northern climates, as I did, but grew them during the summer up north. Petunias are a great example; they are best enjoyed October through April in our area.
With an eye on the upcoming holiday season, I prefer to use many silver, green, and white plants that combine well with poinsettias and then transition well for the rest of the winter. These silver dusty millers are hardy plants that look great in combinations and can handle an occasional light frost.
Bacopa, another winter annual, trails nicely over its container, and produces many of these dime-size white flowers. It lasts through May, making this plant a great value.
I also like to add an evergreen plant to my containers for greater interest. The ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia here is a good companion for annuals, and keeps this arrangement nice and full.
When the holiday season is here, the final touch is adding the bright-red poinsettia. If poinsettias aren’t your cup of tea, geraniums, snapdragons, and dianthus are a few other possibilities for great winter color.