The Q&A Archives: fall and winter flowering plants

Question: what are the best flowers to plant for fall and winter for the middle south garden region?

Answer: Here are my favorite fall blooming plants:
Aster novi-belgii (Michaelmas Daisy); In shades of pink, purple, blue and white, these delicate daisy-like blossoms start popping open in late August and continue on until frost. Pinching in the early summer turns these Asters into mounds with dozens of flower buds. [p]Asters will tend to creep throughout your garden, but their airiness allows them to blend particularly well with other flowers.

Caryopteris (Blue Mist Shrub); Caryopteris is a sub-shrub that is often grown in the perennial garden. Caryopteris slowly blossoms in August with dazzling blue flower clusters. Just try and keep the butterflies and bees away. Caryopteris is cut back in early spring, like a Buddleia, and the gray-green foliage is attractive all season.

Chelone (Turtlehead); Nick-named for their blossoms shaped like turtles heads, Chelone is a carefree fall blooming perennial whose only real dislike is excessive dry heat. Chelone behaves itself, growing in a dense clump with attractive foliage and red, pink or white blooms.

Chrysanthemums; There are many varieties of mums, not all particularly hardy. The plants sold in the fall as 'Hardy Mums' should have been sold to us in the spring, to be reliably hardy in the north. However we wouldn't have had the patience to plant them and wait. Mums and pumpkins are the flag bearers of fall. Try and get your potted mums in the ground ASAP. Keep them well watered and mulch once the ground freezes and you'll stand your best chance of having truly hardy mums.

Helenium (Sneezeweed) is making a resurgence in gardens. They look like small russet-toned coneflowers, in reds, yellows and oranges. Many helenium can grow quite tall and will need to be staked or pinched. Like clematis, they like cool feet and hot heads. helenium is also a good choice for poorly drained areas.

Heliopsis (False Sunflower); Heliopsis is very similar to Helianthus. Heliopsis tends to begin blooming earlier in the season and stays on for 8 or more weeks. Newer varieties have been bred smaller and sturdier, for less flopping.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' comes as close to perfection as any plant can. It looks good all year, requires minimal attention and attracts few problems. It's only drawback is that it is not deer resistant. 'Autumn Joy' has been joined in the garden by a growing number of fall wonders like: 'Bertram Anderson, 'Brilliant' and 'Matrona'. No fall garden is complete without sedum.

Hope this short list gives you some great ideas!

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