Ask any gardener their favorite season and some will say spring because its the first chance to get dirt under the fingernails and see some color after a long gray winter. Others will say fall because its the traditional harvest season and the last chance to see flower blooms prior to the winter dormancy period.
While asters like the coneflower and chrysanthemums or mums remain the mainstays of many fall flower gardens, many annuals can bloom in either spring or fall, depending on the planting schedule. For fall flower garden lovers here’s a look at five fabulous fall garden flowers. All are easy to grow, and in many instances they do double duty as either cut flowers or indoor flowering plants.
In many areas of the United States Gentian in bloom signals the waning of the summer season, making it a perfect fall garden flower. Gentian seeds and seedlings are readily available for gardens across North America. Native plants grow at all altitudes from sea side to mountain tops. Checking to insure potential garden choices match individual garden environments provides the greatest assurance of successful cultivation.
The top picture shows Newberry’s Alpine Gentian (Gentiana newberryi var. newberryi), the less common of the two varieties of Gentiana newberryi. It grows in a couple of high elevation locations in the Southern Cascades of Oregon and Northern California.
Red to purple spots on the petals compliment the cobalt blue flowers. Hikers finding find the right alpine meadow, can view hundreds in bloom.
Picture two shows the Seaside Gentian, another popular flower commonly found along coastal areas of Florida (not to mention other areas of the United States.)
Popular house plants as well as small, colorful additions to a fall garden, Cyclamen make their way to North American gardens via their native Eurasian, Mediterranean and North Africa home bases. Careful handling often results in months of blooms.
Growing tips depend on the particular variety. Some species, for example, thrive in partial shade, making them perfect companion plants for garden corners or next to trees or shrubs that might soak up most of the sun in the area.
Outdoors most species grow best in USDA Zones 5 to 9.
Literally dozens of flowers plants in the daisy family (Asteraceae), thrive in fall gardens. Gardeners looking for something new might want to think Dahlias, the national flower of Mexico.
Although characterizes as warm weather plants, recommended for gardens in USDA zone 7 and higher areas, with the exception of the heat and humidity of South Florida and South Texas Dahlias grow in most areas of the United States. In high frost areas, they are grown as annuals, otherwise, plant them and enjoy then perennially. Their summer and fall blooms brighten up many gardens until the first frost sets in.
Their popularity translates into hundreds of varieties, ranging from daisy to sunflower size, with colors ranging the full spectrum being available for consumers. Many of the varieties also make an indoor splash as a centerpiece of cut flowers.
General growing tips include planting them in high sun areas with slightly acidic soil.
Fuchsia: a genus of flowering plants in the Evening Primrose family (Onagraceae), count over one hundred different species, most native to Central and South America.
Generally Fuchsia grow in temperate climates, not too hot, not too cold. Many perennial varieties bloom in the fall, producing beautiful shades of pink, red, white and/or purple. Pruning them back after the final flowering helps keep them flowers year after year. West Coast coastal areas provide optimal fuchsia growing conditions, making them a favorite fall garden flower. They attract hummingbirds.
Adding to their utility, a handful, other varieties also make great basket flowers, adding color to patios, porches and indoor settings. Soil conditions, water and fertilizer schedules for potted fuchsia depends on the variety, otherwise, most varieties grow well in partial shade. Removing or cutting back the flowers after the peak of their bloom encourages new flower development.
Gladiolus, native irises from the Mediterranean area and Southern Africa, also find a home in many North American gardens. In fact, hundreds of years of cultivation means multiple varieties of their colorful spikes of flowers now grace gardens around the world.
While Gladiolus are popular summer flower, in USDA zones 6-8, their colorful, statuesque presence compliments a fall garden filled with asters. Depending on the variety and climate conditions, it takes between two and one half to three months to compete their growth stage through flowering. July and August corm plantings should produce flowers from September to October, or the first frost.
They grow perennially in Mediterranean climates. Gardens in colder zones support annual growth. Long stems with multiple blooms make them a popular cut flower.