Welcome to the first of an ongoing series of blog posts! We have different types of posts planned, but we’re starting with a post from Selena, a member of our Adult Services staff. Selena is currently working on her master gardener certification, and she’s excited to share her knowledge with you!
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. – George Eliot
You may not share Eliot’s sentiments about autumn, but at least she states her case with beauty. Her spirit paints mild days, mellow breezes, and blazing colors–an untroubled setting for your mind. But for gardeners who prefer “SPRINGing forward” to “FALLing back,” adjusting to a season that ushers in frost and dormancy can be a bit depressing. Weep not! There are several cold-craving ornamentals other than mums that put on great flowering shows.
Violas and pansies are great choices for much-needed pops of color during the cold months. These easy-to-grow annuals slump under frost but perk back up once they see the sun. And since they come in a variety of colors, it’s easy to find something to suit your personality!
Some viola varieties, especially “Johnny Jump-ups,” will self-seed and return the following year. If you’re looking for something to put in the ground, aster is a great perennial performer. This beautiful plant is busy blooming when others are fading and falling. It also provides a late-season snack for beneficial bugs and pollinators.
If you plan to plant these or any ornamentals, remember the key to healthy plants is good soil. Take time to select the right soil for your plants and amend it with a bit of bone meal to help root establishment. Good drainage is another must. Opt for pots with holes or add a bottom layer of gravel so roots aren’t waterlogged. Also, don’t
create a rigid schedule for watering–instead, let your plants tell you when they’re thirsty. They will slightly droop when dry. Finally, remember to pinch back or deadhead plants to encourage blooming and prolong life. It nearly breaks my heart to snip any current blooms, but left undone, plants will become leggy and fall short of their full potential! Pinching back produces bushier plants and loads of blooms–just enough splendor to pull you through the gray months.