The Colors of Fall

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With daily temperatures running above average, it is hard to believe that we are just a few weeks away from removing your summer annual color and replacing it with the colors of fall.  But, September is the month that starts out as summer and ends as fall with an average high temperature of 90 at the beginning of the month and 78 at the end of the month. 

September is the transition month for much of your landscape.  Impatiens, begonias, penta, lantana, periwinkle, coleus, sunpatiens….well, all summer color…is often at its best in early September and starting to fade by the end of the month. 

Now is the time to start planning your seasonal color change for October.

Let’s look at the most common options:

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Pansies – Why is the only winter color planted in the fall, and almost without fail, will not only survive the winter cold, but put on an amazing bust of spring color called a Pansy?  That is the wrong name for an annual color that is really tough!  Planting pansies in early October will add vibrant yellows, blues, purples, oranges, whites and reds to your landscape for 7-8 months.  The key to pansies surviving the winter is keeping the plants from being bone dry when cold fronts arrive.  Pansies love fertile, well-drained soil.  For the best results add compost to the soil when planting.  For the best show, plant on 6” centers.  Pansies are available with a clear face or with a blotch.  I love both, but enjoy the added color contrast you get with the blotch. 

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Mums – They are actually a perennial, but can double as an annual for dramatic color during October and November.  They are traditionally used in pots and overlooked as a bedding plant.  Use mums in the landscape for bold, eye-catching color.  An added bonus – after the blooms fade, transfer the plants to a place where they will accent the landscape as a perennial in the coming springs and falls. 

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Kale riding out an ice storm.

Kale riding out an ice storm.

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Kale and Ornamental Cabbage – A leafy annual that adds texture along with hues of purples, pinks, and whites to the fall landscape.  Most winters kale and cabbage will add interest to the landscape through the holidays and occasionally into the spring.  Just like pansies, the most damaging thing you can do is allow the soil to be dry when cold spells sweep in. 

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Bulbs: Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths – Not fall color, but they must be planted in the fall for color next spring.  We will spend more time talking about spring flower bulbs in a few weeks, but now is the time to start making your plans.  Bulbs put on their best show in the spring when they are planted with several bulbs together in a group. 

For the best color show, limit mums and/or kale to 20% or less of your planting.  Because of the limited bloom time of mums and the chance kale will not last till spring, you will limit your spring color show if you have too much of them.  Or, plant your spring bulbs in the same area as your mums and kale.  The bulbs will fill the void with a burst of color next spring.

Start planning now.  Be ready to plant in October. 

You don’t want to be without color in your landscape for the next 7-8 months.

 

Lorne Hall

Hall|Stewart is a professional lawn and landscape company committed to improving your environment through responsible landscape services.