The Q&A Archives: Plants for Fall and Winter Color

Question: Hi. I live in St. Louis (5B) and I would like to know what kind of plants/Flowers can I plant in containers to this Fall/ Winter. I have a small patio in my apartment and I would like to see some colors. When I should start?

Answer: Chrysanthemums have long been regarded as the flower for late season color. And, oh, what color they have in shades of yellow, pink, orange, red, bronze, purple and white. The flower types are equally as diverse from daisy, anemone, semi-double, buttons, pompoms and double.

Plant them in August or September, whenever they are available in the nurseries in your area.

Pansies are cool weather plants and prefer nighttime temperatures of 50 degrees and daytime temperatures around 60 degrees; thus, they are ideal for fall color and provide a terrific complement to bulbs in the springtime before perennials start blooming. Getting pansies started in the summer is difficult since they have this tendency to prefer cooler weather, so fall and early spring are ideal times to plant pansies. Many times, pansies seeded in the fall will even bloom all winter long. Last year I planted my pots with pansies in October, and they bloomed wonderfully throughout the winter.

Goldenrod is an excellent garden perennial that is much more beloved in Europe than in its homeland of North America. Its bloom time varies with the species, but is usually late summer to early fall. Plant heights vary from 1-6 feet tall.

As a final suggestion, I'd suggest planting some ornamental grasses. They add distinctive textures and forms to the landscape throughout the year even when they have dried after frost and persist into the winter. Their light texture and durability provide graceful movement during the lightest breeze.

Probably for easiest culture, best growth, and overall suitability, the grasses best suited to our climate are the many varieties of grasses belonging to the Miscanthus genus. Varieties such as ?Morning Light?, ?Graziella?, ?Sarabande? and ?Silberfeder? (Silver feather) are just a few. Although there is variation in size depending on variety, most grow from 4 to 6 feet tall. Their feathery plumes are smaller than those of pampas grass, but more dependable. They may also be cut for use indoors. If plumes are left on the plant, they remain attractive for most of the winter. All miscanthus varieties have similar plumes which first develop pale pink or reddish pink, but turn to beige as they fluff out and dry in late fall. Some, such as zebra grass, have yellow bands across the leaves during summer. Striped Eulalia grass has yellow and white stripes the length of the leaves. Maiden grass has a conspicuous white midvein and develops smaller clumps than many other varieties. ?Nippon? and ?Arabesque? are some of the smaller, more compact varieties of miscanthus.

Best wishes with your patio garden!

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