What's Blooming in September

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Posted by @LarryR on
This article is the second in a new series at All Things Plants. On the 15th of each month I'll highlight plants blooming here at Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens. I'll have photos and will discuss the plants featured. You're invited to discuss these plants, too, but just as important, you're encouraged to show us what's blooming in your garden each month. There is also a monthly contest called "Name that Bloom." The first person to correctly identify the plant will have a photo of his/her choice published and featured the following month. Be sure to check out this month's mystery flower at the end of this article.


From left, a vignette of Sedum 'Cloud Walker, 'Heliopsis helianthoides and Calmentha nepetoides in the author's garden

garden in Iowa, where the first killing frost in October pretty much ends the growing season. So what happens then? Where will I find photos to feature? I do have potted plants under lights and on window sills in the winter, but not many that bloom. This is where you, the reader, get to shine. I'll solicit photos from readers all over the world where plants grow and bloom when my garden is covered in ice and snow. Three photos will be featured each month during the off season. I'll choose the first, middle and last photos that I receive before a pre-determined deadline.

Sound like fun? I hope you'll join in!

Before we take a look at what's blooming at Cottage-in-the-Meadow gardens this month, it's time to announce the winner of last month's Name that Bloom contest.  Congratulations to Kent Pfeiffer from southeast Nebraska for being the first to identify August's mystery bloom as Leadplant (Amorpha canescens, sometimes misnamed Amphora).

I asked Kent to tell us a little about himself.

How did you come to be a gardener?

One of my responsibilities as a kid was helping take care of my parent's vegetable garden. I'm eternally grateful for every part of it - the planting, the hoeing, the aromas, etc. No vegetables ever taste better than the ones eaten right out in the garden. My adult life has involved, in one way or another, managing native prairies, woodlands, and wetlands. I've grown to love native plants and have incorporated many species into my landscaping.

How long have you been gardening?

About 40 years (I'm 43).

Do you have a favorite flower? (I see lots of irises in your avatar photo and note that you have an iris badge.)

Uvularia grandiflora by
Kent Pfeiffer

Hardiness:  USDA Zone 4a to 9b
Exposure:  Light Shade
Height:  24-36 inches
Bloom Color:
  Bright Yellow
Bloom Time:  Mid-Late Spring

Native Distribution


That's a tough one, maybe Dwarf Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia minor). I do love irises, though.

Do you grow vegetables as well?

Yep, but it's relatively small, just a few hundred square feet compared to the quarter acre or so garden that my parents had.

Do you have any other hobbies?

Aside from vegetable gardening and growing native plants, I started hybridizing irises a couple of years ago.

Is that sweet young lady in your avatar your daughter?

Yes, taken when she was around 5 years old.

Showing his interest in native plants, Kent chose for publication a photo of Uvularia grandiflora (Bellwort) as his contest prize.

Why did you choose the Bellwort photo?

Bellwort is a wonderful and easily grown native plant that more gardeners ought to consider growing in their shade gardens.

What's Blooming at Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens This Month

Orange rudbeckia volunteer
Autumn Palette Amaranth
Yellow Bleeding Heart Vine
Variegated Maiden Grass
Henry Eilers Rudbeckia

Sometimes volunteer seedlings in the garden, if we let them, grow up to be beautiful surprises.  Such was the case with a rudbeckia in our cottage garden beds this year.  Last year I had planted several rudbeckias there, some having the usual golden color and some colored a deep wine red.  Evidently, they cross-pollinated.  The result was a beautiful orange rudbeckia.  I plan to save the seed and see what I get next year.  Since this is a hybrid, the colors won't all be orange, but it will be fun to see what additional surprises these seeds might hold.

Blooming just in time to fit in with the colors of fall is an unusual golden brown amaranth, Amaranthus paniculatus 'Autumn Palette.'  Another valuable trait, aside from its unusual color, is the fact that its seed germinates readily and quickly.

Speaking of unusual characteristics, how about a yellow bleeding heart that vines.  Dicentra scandens scrambles up one of our arbors and starts producing hundreds of yellow, heart-shaped blossoms in July.  It doesn't go dormant in summer's heat as some other bleeding heart varieties do, but blooms right up to the first frost.  It's extremely frost-sensitive.

Hardy in zones 6 through 9, it appreciates light or dappled shade.  Any good garden soil is fine, as long as it drains well.  It prefers ample moisture, but did surprisingly well during this summer's six-week drought with only two or three waterings.

Show us what's blooming in your garden this September.  At the end of this article is a forum where you can upload your photos and leave comments.

Since Bleeding Heart Vine is not hardy in our zone 5 garden, I dig the fleshy roots after the tops have been killed by frost.  I run a little water over them to wash away any soil still clinging to them.  Then I store them on a plastic plant tray with holes or slits in the bottom and cover them lightly with milled sphagnum moss.  I place the tray on two bricks, one at each end.  The idea is to allow air circulation through the bottom of the tray.  Several times during the winter I moisten the moss slightly to keep the roots from drying out to the point where they might shrivel up and die.

By the time fall arrives, our Variegated Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus,' is mature and putting on its annual show.  It's flanked by two red salvia beds and set off by a background of vines that include Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans), Kolomitka Vine (Actinidia kolomikta) and Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora).  The latter has gone through an incredible number of botanical name changes.  It has been known in the past as Clematis maximowicziana, Clematis paniculata, Clematis chinensis, Clematis dioscoreifolia, and Clematis thunbergii.  These vines are all hardy and thrive in our gardens with no care, except for some trimming when they begin to cover windows.

One of the perennial rudbeckias, Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers,' has been blooming for some time now and shows no signs of stopping.  This is an uncommon rudbeckia that deserves much more attention than it's currently getting.  The unique blossoms look as if someone had stuck yellow round toothpicks around the circumference of a fuzzy brown button.  They occur atop four to five foot tall upright stems. I value this plant highly because the flowers blend so well with other fall blooming perennials, including asters and ornamental grasses.

Even the leaves of this decorative plant are unique.  They release a subtle, sweet fragrance reminiscent of vanilla.

As you might guess, the "Henry Eilers" part of the name refers to a person who was somehow involved in the history of this variety of Rudbeckia subtomentosa.  Mr. Eilers, now in his mid-70s, actually discovered it growing in a prairie remnant along the bank of a stream in southern Illinois.  He's a life long horticulturist, a former nurseryman and an expert on native Illinois flora.

If you're a gardener in zones 4 through 8, I encourage you to try this robust rudbeckia.  Below is relevant information concerning its culture.

'Henry Eilers' at a Glance
Height 3 ft. to 6 ft Light Full Sun to Part Shade
Spread 1 ft. to 3 ft. Soil Any good garden soil
Growth Habit Clumps Moisture Drought Tolerant
Maintenance Low  Other Attracts birds, Butterflies










This decorative tropical vine is thought to have originated in southeast Asia, although some authorities believe its place of origin is Africa, where records show that it has been known since the eighth century.  All parts of the plant, except the roots, are eaten as food.  The young pods, are cooked like snap beans, the leaves and flowers can be cooked and eaten like spinach and the dried seeds are made into bean cakes or are fermented to make tempeh, using these beans rather than the traditional soybeans.

The first person to correctly identify the plant will have a blossom photo of his/her choice published and featured the following month.


Native distribution map is courtesy of USDA.


Scroll down to the forum at the end of this article.  Click on the thread, "September Contest Entries."  Enter the name of the plant, either one of its common names or its botanical name (genus and species).



About Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens

Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens, owned by Larry and Wilma Rettig, South Amana, Iowa, has been featured in local and national publications, on the Internet, and is listed with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., as a national heritage garden. Larry and Wilma grow over 300 varieties of flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetables. Since 1986, they have maintained a seed bank that preserves vegetable varieties brought from Germany to the Amana Villages during the 1850s.  More...

Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Blooming for me in September by threegardeners Sep 18, 2011 10:45 PM 23
September Contest Entries by LarryR Sep 17, 2011 2:46 PM 16

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