Fall Flowers: Annuals for the North

Lynn Coulter
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 pansies in barrel

When it comes to fall color, most of us think of trees and shrubs. As the temperatures drop, they make less chlorophyll, which allows autumnal reds, golds, purples, and browns to appear. But if you’re looking for plants to refresh your garden or summer containers, think about fall annuals, too. They’re inexpensive, and their bright blooms last into the cold weather. 

Our Muddy Boots associate Crystal, based in New York, says, “Mums are huge in our area, and if you are careful when you are shopping, you can plant a perennial mum plant. Many places sell an annual type, but ask your Home Depot garden associate and they can show you the perennial version. You’ll get more bang for your buck!

“Mums come in a variety of colors and keep their flowers for a long time. They like the cooler weather, and if you plant when their blooms are nearly gone, next year they will come back bigger and bushier. If you choose to go with annual mums, you can pot them in an oak or resin oak whiskey barrel or in hanging planters for a pop of fall color around your entry way.”  (Here’s how to plant in a whiskey barrel.)

Crystal adds, “Nasturtiums grow in the summer, but enjoy the cooler temps of fall and have their best color during this season. Lobelia will also grow in the summer, but enjoys the fall season more and will bloom twice as much with cooler air.” Tip: plant masses of flowers, like the purple lobelias shown below, for maximum impact in the landscape.

lobelia

“Violas and pansies are very popular and inexpensive to purchase, and they look great in pots. They love colder weather. Snapdragons are pretty, colorful flowers that can give a little height to a potted arrangement, but be careful of colder weather when they’re planted in the garden. You may need to cover your arrangement to protect the plants at night.”

Dinah, our Muddy Boots associate from Connecticut, says, “Great fall annuals include asters, marigolds, snapdragons and sweet alyssum. Hardy mums and asters, if planted in the ground, can easily come back next year!”

Pansies image: SS/Amy Johansson

Lobelias image: SS/Kennerth Kullman

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