Autumn is here and the cool season foliage will soon show off its brilliance. For the plant enthusiast, what better show stoppers to have amongst your autumn collection than the classics?
Autumn is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. They grow roots through the winter and are established to survive summer droughts. Do not prune or fertilize trees and shrubs at present. Fertilize in early spring when it is time for the plants to grow. Use Daddy Pete’s Planting Mix with manure to plant to provide a boost, and get them started. Be sure to water deciduous trees and shrubs until they lose their leaves with frost. Evergreens may need supplemental watering throughout the winter if we there is not ample rain. Never plant trees/shrubs deeper than the plant is growing (don’t put soil over the root ball).
Natchez Crape Myrtle
Natchez Crape Myrtle: Known for its white flowers in July, the Natchez Crape Myrtle also makes a showy display in fall, with its fiery red-orange foliage that dazzles with the same brilliance as maples. Couple this with sun tolerance, disease resistance, low maintenance, and blooms for almost 3 months, and it’s no surprise this tree can be found along sidewalks, in the landscapes of residential neighborhoods, and in parks. It is worth noting that the Natchez can reach heights of 20 feet or more at maturity. If this is too much, try opting for a dwarf variety instead.
Ginkgo biloba: Considered the oldest living species of tree on Earth, this deciduous darling is a slow grower, but can reach heights of 50-80 ft. at maturity. Ginkgo biloba makes its fall debut when its leaves turn from green to a brilliant yellow. The bonus is that the leaves almost all fall in one day. Yet aside from its showy golden leaves, the Ginkgo biloba’s fame is rooted (no pun intended) in its resilience and durability. It can thrive in neglect (i.e. compacted soil, poor drainage, pollution) and is resistant to most insects amongst other things. The only drawback is the fruit produced by the female emits a foul odor. Mitchell’s only grows the male, which doesn’t fruit.
Leaf lettuces, spinach, and broccoli are fall vegetables that can be planted in containers, or in the ground. Fall is also the time for Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, head lettuce, romaine lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, mesclun, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, carrots, collards, mustard, and other greens. Mitchell’s has all of these ready to plant now, except carrots which must be grown from seed.
These easy-to-grow showy flowers are quite remarkable. They come in a vast array of colors, and cultivars, require little maintenance, and do just as well in containers, as they do in the ground. While violas are smaller than their pansy counterparts, they are hardier and will bloom after the snow melts. These little guys, usually have more than one act in them, as they can last several seasons, even several years. It is best to plant violas in early spring, fall, or late winter. A bonus to fall planting is that violas will last through the spring season without the need for replanting.
Because pansies are derivatives of violas, they share many of the same attributes. Pansies also come in many colors and varieties, require little maintenance and are container tolerant. Because of their bigger blooms, pansies are naturally showier, and from my experience generally preferred. Though not as tough or enduring as violas, pansies can rebound from a hard freeze, and last through spring. Pansies like violas should be planted in early spring, fall, or late winter. When planted in fall, they too will last through the spring season without the need for replanting.
Aside from oversized pumpkins, nothing says fall like chrysanthemums. Unlike pansies and violas, chrysanthemums are regarded as autumn flowers exclusively. Orange and red, display well with ornamental cabbage and kale, while white makes a great blend with asters. The typical chrysanthemum (the ones most stores and nurseries sell between late July-Early October) are resilient to the heat and cold. Chrysanthemums may be perennials, but not always. Be sure to plant them and keep them watered after the blooms fade.