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Mum’s The Word But Not The Last Word In Fall Color

If the annuals in your flower beds and containers are looking rather tired, you have a decision to make. Do you replace them with more summer annuals or change them out for fall annuals? I think hesitation at fall annuals right now is the false notion that chrysanthemums, or mums, are the only choice. The truth is that there’s a great selection of annuals that bloom in the fall.

Some flowers that may have been providing color all season will continue blooming well into fall. These include violas like pansies and violets. Snap dragons and marigolds will also bloom well into the fall, as will petunias. If you didn’t have any of these in your landscape, check with your garden center. It’s not too late to plant them and enjoy their fall flowers.

If you did enjoy these flowers all spring and summer, you may have to refresh or replace them now, especially if they didn’t get enough water or do enough deadheading during the summer. Next spring, add these to your list of annuals, keep them happy and they’ll continue to keep you happy in the fall.

If you started the season with crocuses, you may want to end the season with the plant we call fall crocus. This bulb isn’t a rebloom of the spring crocus. It just looks like it. Actually, the spring crocus is a member of the same family as the iris while the fall crocus is a member of the lily family. Another common name for the fall crocus is meadow saffron but don’t get excited about the saffron name. In fact, you won’t want to confuse it with the very expensive spice. The meadow saffron, or fall crocus, is actually poisonous. The fall crocus photo was taken in October at Chanticleer, a public garden in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Asters also are fall bloomers. In fact, they’re the most common companion to mums. That’s because they both have similar growing requirements and blooming schedules. The list of fall blooming plants also includes Black Eyed Susans, Autumn sedum, Cranesbill (hardy) geraniums, sweet alyssum and heuchera, which is also called coral bells. Daylilies can also bloom into the fall, as can sunflowers.  Bleeding hearts, another early spring bloomer, also adds another dimension to your fall plant palette.

Mums are beautiful flowers for fall but they’re overused, resulting in a monoculture in many landscapes. Monoculture (limiting your plantings to one species) is never a good idea. It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. You drop it and they all break. That’s why it’s better to diversify your plant palette for any season.

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