Plant late-bloomers in your fall garden

By Dawn Pettinelli - UConn Home & Garden Education Center
- posted Tue., Sep. 13, 2011
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

For most people, including myself, autumn is a relaxing season in the garden. Sure, there is still plenty to be done, but most of the vegetables have been harvested, the weeds have become somewhat less rampant, and the mosquito population is finally beginning to wane.

It is definitely more of a delight to be out in the garden now and enjoy the brightly-colored leaves and flowers of fall. Not much blooming in your garden these days? Well, that can be easily remedied.

Chrysanthemums probably come foremost to mind as candidates for fall color. Coming in almost every color except true red and blue, the commonly-sold cushion mums are found at almost every garden center, farm stand and grocery store. Beware that not all hardy mums are in fact hardy. Select plants with considerable basal sprouts to improve winter survival. Regular waterings will also help your mums get established before winter. Many exciting varieties of mums are also available by mail order. For interest, try single, pompom, spider, quill or spoon-shaped mums. ‘Klara Curtis,’ a single pink that flowers from summer into fall, is one of my favorites because it over-winters.

Asters also rank high in popularity as fall bloomers. They range in height from 1 to 7 feet and come in shades of pink, purple, blue and white. Bright rose ‘Alma Potschke’ is a focal point in any garden and looks especially nice combined with pale pink ‘Harrington’s Pink’ and white boltonia. ‘Hella Lacy,’ a rich, dark purple aster combines nicely with yellow patrinia or goldenrod. A shorter, disease-resistant variety, ‘Purple Dome,’ sports profuse lavender flowers.

Boltonias have daisy-like flowers similar to asters. Their grey-green leaves are attractive throughout the summer and these plants are quite disease resistant. ‘Snowbank,’ a white variety, is generally available locally. The taller ‘Pink Beauty’ is a little more difficult to find, but worth the effort if you like pink.

By now, almost everyone is familiar with sedum ‘Autumn Joy,’ with its soft, pink, fluffy flower heads turning to a darker maroon color which lasts well into winter. It truly is a plant for all seasons, with its beautiful foliage and long-lasting blooms. Sedum ‘Ruby Glow’ has delightful red blossoms and ‘Vera Jameson’ produces pink blooms with purplish leaves and stems. A very late bloomer, ‘Sedum sieboldi,’ has the most attractive grey-green leaves and delicate lavender-pink flowers.

For moist soils, both the obedient plant (‘Physostegia’) and bugbane (‘Cimicifuga’) are good choices for fall flowers. Obedient plants are found in rose, pale pink and white, and have curiously-shaped spikes of flowers. They do spread, so be prepared to selectively thin them or position them where they have room to roam.

Bugbanes bear wands of creamy white flowers. They reach a height of 4 to 7 feet and prefer a moist, humusy soil in part shade. One variety, ‘Atropurpurea,’ has wonderful purplish foliage.

Japanese anemones (actually, they hail from China) do best in a semi-shaded situation with moist soil. Their delicate blossoms combine nicely with ferns or in front of an evergreen backdrop. Both single and double forms are available, and they can be found in shades of pink, mauve or white, all with a silvery sheen to them.

Some autumn combinations worth mentioning are coreopsis ‘Moonbeam,’ with lavender asters, silvery artemesias with purple or pink asters, rust-colored mums and light purple asters, and blue asters underlying a purple smokebush.

When selecting plants for fall interest, remember ornamental grasses can also play an exciting role. Aside from their feathery plumes, they give the garden a sense of movement as they dance in the breeze, and a sense of sound as the wind rustles through them. If you have questions on what to plant for fall color or other home and gardening questions, call the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, toll-free, at (877) 486-6271, visit www.ladybug.uconn.edu or contact your local Cooperative Extension office. 


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