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Going Beyond the Mum for Fall Color

Local landscaping expert Rob Schucker shares a great selections of Fall plants and offers advice on planting them and caring for them.

Wilting impatiens and frostbitten begonias – great summer colors are beginning to fade fast, but what is the homeowner to do?  A hearty mum offers wonderful fall seasonal color and is worthy in any landscape design.  But before loading the car with only mums, consider other fall plants, which will add variety and uniqueness to your fall plantings. 

Snapdragons, cabbage, grasses, kale, pansies and other varieties can help homeowners create unique planting arrangements to make their properties stand out from the crowd this fall. 

The best time to install autumn plantings is in early October, when nighttime  temperatures have cooled significantly.  Autumnal season plants thrive in cooler temperatures so planting when it is still too warm may cause them to wilt.  Another bonus of planting fall color is extending enjoyment of blooms for a longer period of time. 

Before heading to the local garden center, consider site and color.  Look to see where a splash of color would be most effective.  Consider porches, mailbox and lamppost bases, walkway edges, and patios.  You can double your color exposure by planting where it may be seen from both inside and outside your home.  Also, containers can add a flash of color while offering versatility and ease of placement. 

Red, yellow, and orange are the classic fall colors but adding something different can add the element of surprise to your yard.  Blues, pinks, silver and black can give a dramatic appearance to your mums.  For example, the purple New England aster or pinkish chrysanthemum can increase the spectrum of color – plus, as perennials, these plants will save you time and money.

Consider these simple design tips when planting.  When planting a bed, use no more than three complimentary colors to keep your design looking polished.  A good rule of thumb to provide vibrant and rich color is to use nine eight-inch plants to fill one square yard for lining walkways and plant beds.  Planting in odd numbers will also stagger the plants to provide more ground cover.

Colorful flowerpots and containers provide flexibility to add height and add color to hardscapes such as patios and decks.  It is best to plant containers in early fall when soil temperatures are still warm enough to establish a good root system.  Containers should be placed in sunny locations.

To create a fabulous container, begin with one at least 14 inches wide so the roots of the plants are protected.  A good strategy to create texture and visual interest is to place more delicate plants near “leafier” plants such as kale.  For instance, using a properly sized container, use one eight-inch cabbage, with six four-and-a-half-inch pansies surrounding it, to create a beautiful, full appearance.

To make a statement that really says “I love autumn,” include a harvest display in a highly visible part of your property, with an assortment of decorations such as hay bales, gourds, pumpkins and potted plants.

Old Man Winter will soon be here, so make the most of the cool months ahead by adding some unexpected variety and spice to your landscape.  You’ll stand apart with bright, warm autumn color.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hank September 20, 2011 at 03:21 AM
good stuff what do I need to do to have a potted mum return the following year/

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