Fall Plants for Your Garden
As summer turns to fall, the days grow shorter and the nights longer. Suddenly your summer annuals are fading from sight. But the shorter days also welcome new flowering and foliage plants to your garden with colors that bring smiles to your face.
Chrysanthemums (Dendranthema morifolium) or mums as they are affectionately called are the most popular fall perennials for color in your garden. The mum has been around for at least 2,000 years in China and 1,000 years in Japan. It’s the national flower of Japan. Europeans fell in love with the plant when it was introduced to Holland in 1688. When the plant was first cultivated, the flowers were yellow. The name chrysanthemum comes from Greek meaning golden flower. Now, in addition to the yellow flowers, you’ll find white, orange, pink, lavender, coral, and salmon. And, while the most common flowers have a tight cluster, you’ll find some flowers that resemble daisies or pompons. Plant the mums in a sunny location with well-drained soil, give them plenty of water, and you’ll find they can thrive for years.
Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) and their forerunners, violas, have always inspired thoughts of love and romance, especially for bards such as William Shakespeare. Other people, especially children, feel like they are looking into the face of nature smiling back when they gaze at the flower. Developed as a cultivar in the early 1800s, the pansy retained its edible qualities and is high in vitamins A and C. These are plants that like the cool weather. They’ll grow in fall, throughout the winter (though some freeze a little bit with the snow), and into spring until the hot summer months just melt them away. They can grow in full sun to partial shade. Make sure that you fertilize and mulch them so they can grow through the winter months.
Asters (Aster spp.) are a wonderful cultivar that started out as a wildflower in our northeastern states. This daisy-like perennial provides bees and other pollinators with wonderful nectar during those fall months when other flowering plants are beginning to fade. Their flowers come in colors such as white, pink, blue, and purple. The most commonly purchased asters during the fall months are the bunching types that are about a foot tall. Other aster cultivars can grow up to three feet tall. They like to be planted in the sun.
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale (Brassica spp.) expand the beauty of your fall garden with its colorful foliage ranging from green, purple, and white. The cooler the fall, the deeper the colors. For maximum growth, plant the ornamental cabbage or kale in a sunny location. Be sure to plant them so that the lowest leaves touch the ground. Also, keep the soil moist. One of the most commonly asked question is: Are they edible? The answer is yes. But ornamental cabbage and kale is very bitter so few people eat them. Rather, cooks tend to use them as garnish on the plate.