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Looking to spice up your lawn or garden with fall-blooming annuals and perennials? Learn about which fall-blooming plants are best for your area, including mums, pansies, and other autumn gardening favorites.
It's that time of year. Even though it may not look or feel like it, autumn approaches — time for a great yearly tradition — fall chrysanthemums and perennial gardening.
If you like flowers and color, you've got to like fall mums. Fall mums fill the color void in the garden while the days are still warm, but a lot of our summer annuals are winding down. They're great for borders, mass plantings, containers — anywhere you want color.
The gradually diminishing sunlight of autumn prompts fall mums to bloom just at the right time.
Chrysanthemums offer one of the widest varieties of shape and color found in any ornamental plant. The color spectrum includes everything but blue. The traditional fall colors are numerous shades of yellow, orange, maroon, rust, and red. When buying mums, try and select tightly closed buds that are showing only a small bit of color. Like most flowering plants, hybridizers are coming up with new shapes and colors every year.
Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China centuries ago. Members of the daisy family, mums are easy to grow. Plant them in full sun, and keep the soil moist but well-drained.
In warmer areas, mums are hardy and return the following year. Cut them back after they finish blooming and mulch well. The following year, pinch them back during spring and summer (stop pinching in July) for bushier plants with more blooms. Give them a good feeding in the spring with a general plant food. Those in cooler climes will have to replant each season.
A close relative are the florist mums found in the greenhouse. These are best for indoor use as live plants or for cuttings.
The changing track of sunlight in your garden allows you to create a seemingly whole new garden in autumn. Mix mums with other fall annuals and perennials, like autumn sage, aster, ornamental kale or cabbage, pansies, and moss verbena. Keep the fundamentals of color and design in mind when planting your fall garden.
Autumn sage is a great choice for warmer climates, producing blooms through summer and fall. The vibrant red, pink, and white flowers attract hummingbirds and stand out against their backdrop of dark green leaves. Harsh winters freeze the plant, but with proper care, autumn sage resurface come spring.
A wide variety of delicately flowered asters are available throughout the fall in shades of white, purple, pink, lavender, and red. They do best in moist, well-drained soil with full sun to light shade. When planting asters, keep in mind they form bushy clumps and should be spaced at least 18 inches apart. Pinch back the tops about 6 - 8 inches, before mid-July, to promote plenty of blooming in the fall.
Ornamental kale or cabbage sports a multicolored ruffle of leaves that tolerate cold weather quite well. Plant these fall bloomers in August or early September to become established before the temperature begins to cool too much. Several frosts actually enhance their colorful pigmentations — this makes them great additions to outdoor flower beds and pots. Ornamental kale prefers moderately moist, rich soil in a sunny spot.
Like mums, pansies are another popular fall flower choice. These fall annuals are perfect for plant beds, borders, containers, and large groupings of fall flowers. Pansies come in an array of color combinations, including yellows, purples, blues, and oranges. Grow pansies in full sun to part shade and plant them in rich, moist soil. Pansies last from early autumn all the way through early spring.
The fragrant smell of moss verbena hails the coming of fall, and its never-ending trail of blossoms last from spring to winter's first frost. Moss verbena is a great container plant as it tolerates a wide variety of soils and is drought-resistant. The brightly colored flowers of this fall showstopper are known to attract butterflies and come in a wide range of colors.
The possibilities are endless when planning your fall landscape. Incorporate as many or as few of these and other great fall annuals and perennials into your garden, patio, and gift baskets this fall. Be creative and have fun.