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  • Writer's pictureJohn Chapin

Continue the Color With Fall Blooms

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

One of the most enjoyable fall activities is planting colorful cold-tolerant annuals to extend the growing season.

Mums are arguably the most planted flowers for fall color. Although they are true perennials, if planted now, they often behave like annuals since they do not have enough time to get established with new roots before winter sets in. After a very mild winter, like the last one we had, fall-planted mums will delight us with lots of spring growth, but that is the exception rather than the norm. NOTE: Be sure to buy mums that are just beginning to show flower color as they “break bud” if you want to enjoy them for more than only a few weeks.

However, there are plenty of interesting annuals to be enjoyed, either planted for spots of color in the landscaping or in pots for the porch, deck, or patio. These will survive light to moderate frosts well into late October, even November in many cases. All of these can be found in garden centers this time of the year.

Pansies and snapdragons are traditional cold-weather annuals (technically tender perennials) which actually do better in the fall (and spring) than during hotter months. They come in a myriad of colors and color combinations to fit any color scheme, and bloom nonstop for weeks, even months! They often survive a mild winter to restart blooming the following spring. Pansies and snapdragons appreciate rich soil and can be planted in raised beds of 4-6 inches of potting mix spread over the existing soil. (Makes for easier planting, too!)

Ornamental kales and cabbages include many varieties, mostly in white, purple, and pink shades, with attractive, dramatic leaf shapes and forms. These are especially hardy vegetables, often looking great till spring! Cooler weather brings out the best color.

Increasingly, garden centers are offering combo planters of fall flowers, incorporating marigolds, petunias, ornamental peppers, and grasses along with more traditional pansies and mums. These can be very attractive, and although the peppers and marigolds are frost-sensitive, they can be removed if frosted.

So, extend your gardening pleasures by planting some of these hardier annuals this fall.

Happy gardening!


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