Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fall Blooming Perennials Add Color to the Autumn Garden by Carol King

Mid August is a good time to look at your garden and find spots for fall blooming perennials. Here are four “tried and true” plants that will add color to the fall garden.

ASTERS are tough and reliable, and a natural for dry climates like ours where several native species delight mountain hikers. In fact, many aster varieties fail to survive the winter if kept too moist. Asters are easy to cultivate. Among cultivated asters, growth habits range from three-foot perennials to compact mounds. The Greek word aster refers to the yellow-centered, star-like flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue. 
Chrysanthemum is from the Greek, chrysos (gold) and anthos (flower). These plants come in a wide variety of floral colors, including not only gold but also white, off-white, yellow, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. Mum plants can grow to be 2-3 feet high, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. Plant in full sun and well-drained soil, enriched by compost. Chrysanthemums are "photoperiodic"; i.e., they bloom in response to the shorter days and longer nights of fall.
Fall blooming crocus

Fall blooming crocus are technically members of the iris family, and there are more than a dozen species that bloom in fall and winter. Crocus sativus, known as the saffron crocus, is probably the most familiar due to its history of culinary, dye, and medicinal uses. Crocus bulbs are planted during the brief July and August dormant period. The small corms should be set with flattest side down in the soil at a depth of 3½ to 4 inches. Given their small size, crocus displays are most effective when planted in mass. Most crocuses do best when planted in an area that receives full sun has well-drained soil. A few species will tolerate light shade. 
'Autumn Joy' High Country Gardens
SEDUM ‘Autumn Joy’--Do you have a garden spot that is sunny, hot and dry with poor, rocky soil? Sedum spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’ would be a good plant option for such a location and is a great fall bloomer. In autumn, flowers change from a deep pink to pinkish-bronze, then finally to copper-red. It grows 18 to 24 inches tall. Its fleshy gray-green leaves add a great textural contrast in the perennial garden. To add interest to a garden during winter months, wait until spring to deadhead the sedum.

August, September and much of October is lovely along the Front Range and planting several of these will extend your flowering season well into the fall.

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