Answer: Dahlias are reliable fall bloomers, as are asters, goldenrod and mums. Annuals can't be beat for giving color throughout the growing season. Petunias, geraniums, zinnias, salvia, cosmos, marigolds, etc. will all be still blooming into September in your zone. All can be planted next spring in anticipation of your special occasion.
Preparing the soil prior to planting will get your new plants off to a healthy start. Spread a 3-4 inch layer of organic mulch over the planting bed and dig it in to a depth of 6-8 inches. Then plant, water well, and add another 1-2 inches of mulch over the soil surface to help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. You can feed with a liquid fertilizer (such as Miracle-Gro) every 4 weeks to maintain plant health. Remember to remove the spent flowers to encourage additional blooms all season long.
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