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Late Season Color
One Last Blast of Color
By Paul James
It’s time for one last blast of color, both in the garden and in containers on the porch or patio. After all, most colorful annuals can handle temperatures in the upper 20s, and we won’t be seeing temps like that for weeks. So here’s a rundown of what you might consider planting, and realize that you can’t go wrong with any of them.
They’re the quintessential fall flower, which is one reason we grow our own in all your favorite colors in a variety of sizes and deliver them to the store when they're at their peak. Easy to care for, provided they get at least six hours of sun a day and the soil remains relatively moist at all times.
Yep, we grow our own pansies too. In fact, they were the first flowers we chose to grow years ago, and they remain hugely popular for their awesome flowers, and for their ability to survive harsh winters only to rebound and reflower in early spring. Although they won’t be ready for another two weeks or so, now’s the time to start planning where you’ll be planting them.
Though less familiar than mums or pansies, Celosia nevertheless deserves a spot in the late-season garden. Their colorful flowers are as spectacular as they are unusual, and they’re easy to grow. Just plant them -- in the ground or in containers -- in a spot that gets full sun and make sure you don’t overwater them.
There are lots of crotons out there with different leaf shapes and various splotches of color. What’s more, if you grow them in containers outdoors you can move them indoors when temps begin to drop. Outdoors, they do fine with some afternoon shade, but indoors they need bright, indirect light. Either way, avoid letting the soil dry out completely to avoid leaf drop.
I love Coleuses. Have for decades, even back when they were strictly for shade and available in just a few leaf colors. Nowadays, there are varieties for sun or shade and the range of colors -- not to mention leaf shapes -- is incredible. A member of the mint family, they're incredibly easy to grow in the ground or in containers. You can let them flower for bees and other pollinators, or pinch the terminal growth to make the plant bushier.
Mini Vista Petunias are great for extending color in the garden through fall, especially in containers. Available in a range of colors, they bloom like crazy and are self-cleaning, meaning you don’t have to deadhead them. And if they get a tad leggy, you can cut them back without harming the plant.
If you love the color purple, you’ll love the trailing stems of Purple Hearts. The more sun you give them, the more intense their color will be and the more violet-purple flowers they’ll produce. They aren't finicky about soil type provided it drains well. And much like Petunias, If the stems vine a bit more than you like, just snip them back a bit.
Monarchs love them as a source of late-season nectar. So do dozens of other butterflies and moths, as well as bees. And if you’ve never grown Asters, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll love them too. Easy to grow in a sunny spot, their flowers last up until the first hard frost. Along the way, they make great cut flowers.
Better known, thankfully, as GoldDust, Mecardonia produces masses of beautiful yellow/gold flowers on trailing stems, making it a fantastic “spiller” in fall container plantings. And it blooms well into October. The plant itself grows less than six-inches tall, but its stems may reach 18 inches or more.
Ornamental peppers are a real treat -- not so much for the palette (although they are edible), but for the garden, producing large clusters of cute little peppers in a variety of colors. In some cases, you’ll find several different colors on the same plant. Plants will continue to produce fruit up until the first frost.
Cabbage and Kale
Although both are actually edible, you don’t want to eat either because they taste, well, pretty awful. What you want to do is use them for awesome texture and a splash of color, especially as part of a decorative container planting. And guess what? Both are hardy to the low 20s.
Purple Fountain Grass
Thanks to its soft and fluffy, red-burgundy plumes, this ornamental grass is a standout in any sunny setting, and it’s a terrific “thriller” for container plantings. It’s also drought tolerant and, as a bonus, deer won’t touch it. No, it isn’t hardy, but it’ll give you weeks of enjoyment up until the first hard frost.
Late-season color isn’t just about annuals. There are plenty of perennials that continue to flower until frost arrives, and planting them now allows them to produce a healthy root system, which makes for a healthier plant overall.
Fall inspired container plantings are, I think, the most beautiful of the seasons. Maybe that’s because I love fall colors, but maybe it’s because it’s actually true. You be the judge. But regardless, the perfect pot can make all the difference, from classic clay to gorgeously glazed. We’ve got plenty of both, and pretty much everything in between.
A good potting mix will make all the difference in the world when it comes to growing in containers, and we’ve got lots of choices, including our own specially formulated Southwood Potting Mix. We make it ourselves just across the street from our retail store, and bag it in two sizes. We also make Maria’s Mix, the newest addition to our choice of mixes, which we use in our own container plantings.
Fall Harvest Celebration
Saturday, September 23
Join us for a delightful Fall Fest on September 23rd! Discover local vendors, savor French Crepes, and enjoy refreshing delights. A day of autumnal bliss awaits! Save the date and embrace the seasonal spirit at our garden center!
Saturday, September 23
10 to 11 a.m.
Between the tree debris that smothered fescue lawns and summer’s miserably hot temps and lack of rain, chances are you need to rescue your fescue. Join Paul James to learn how to do just that in this, his first live and in-store seminar of the season. Class is free, but registration is required and limited to 100 guests.
Saturday, October 7
10 to 11 a.m.
“Bulbs give you more bang for your buck than any other plant on the planet.” So says Paul James, who’s planted over 4,000 bulbs in his lifetime (so far) and can’t wait to share his favorite selections and planting tips and tricks. Class is free, but registration is required and limited to 100 guests.
I’m Talking Trees
Saturday, October 21
10 to 11 a.m.
Many of us are still mourning the devastating loss of trees back in June. But one sure way to deal with the loss is to plant more trees. Join Paul James to learn what he considers the best trees for this area, including trees for properties large and small, and those that provide the best fall color. Class is free, but registration is required and limited to 100 guests.