Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
November, 2003
Regional Report

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Snapdragons come in many colors and heights. These taller types also make great cut flowers.

Annuals Bring Winter Color to Southern Landscapes

Despite this mild fall weather you can be sure that winter is on the way. Soon our deciduous plants will be bare, and many of the flowers that have filled our landscapes with color will be taken out with the first freeze of the season.

There are a number of wonderful cold-hardy plants that we can use to color our landscapes during the gray days of winter. Some of these are very dependable even in an unusually cold winter, while others may need a light protective cover during a brief period of bitter cold. Here are a few of the great cool-season flower options for southern gardens:

Sweet Alyssum (Full sun/part shade)
Alyssum needs well-drained soil to prevent root fungus problems, and it can freeze with extreme temperature drops. Alyssum is especially attractive cascading over the edge of a container or rock wall.

Ornamental Cabbage and Kale (Full sun)
This is a very dependable performer, even in bitter cold. Some types bolt readily to provide attractive, yellow bloom stalks in spring.

Pot Marigold (Calendula) (Full sun)
Some of the newer varieties will bloom all winter long, surpassing the older ones, which tend to wait for spring. The blooms are edible.

Dusty Miller (Full sun to part shade)
Grown for its silvery white foliage, which makes a nice complement to the green foliage of other plants.

Cyclamen (Shade)
This bulbous plant has beautiful foliage and gorgeous, fragrant blooms that look like falling stars. It needs very good drainage and air circulation. Hardy to 25 degrees, blooms will freeze at 32 degrees. A bit more costly than other winter options, but among the most beautiful.

Pinks (Dianthus) (Full sun)
Many perennial types are available, but the annual bedding types make for fast, cool-season color. After blooms fade, shear back by 1/3 and fertilize to encourage next bloom cycle.

Pansy and Viola (Sun to part shade)
These two "cousins" are the staple color plants for our cool-season flower beds. Violas perform better than pansies. Both have edible blooms.

Snapdragon (Sun)
The taller types make wonderful cut flowers. They can suffer damage from extreme temperature drops. This is remedied by pruning back and feeding.

Give some cool-season annuals a try this winter. They can really brighten things up when our landscapes are looking rather dreary. Include some in containers for versatile color options. Here in the south, winter is no reason to go without color!

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