To enjoy the fruits of a fall garden and maximize benefits, planting should be done in the spring. But for those who didn't plant earlier this year, there are still plenty of options for filling the yard with color for the winter months.
From dazzling oranges to golden yellows, the array of fall colors can be found in a variety of fall plants. Such plants as violas, pansies, ornamental kales and cabbages and Dusty Miller can produce a garden that bursts with color during the dreary months that lie ahead.
"You don't start planting fall flowers until the middle of October," said Judy Sanderlin, owner of Sanderlin Green Houses in Appling, adding that with the area's warm temperatures, planting can be extended into December.
Among the plants that will make a great showing during the fall and into winter are ornamental cabbages and kales. Like their less-showy counterparts, ornamental cabbages and kales are edible and are often used as a garnishment on holiday plates.
But they shine in the garden where their tightly ruffled rosettes provide a stunning display. From purples to reds or whites to pinks, ornamental cabbages and kales rarely grow larger than they are when purchased, so be sure to get the size needed for the intended space. Larger plants will cost slightly more than the smaller ones.
Two other fall favorites are the viola and pansy. While the viola is a miniature version of the pansy, both are hardy plants that will provide a splash of color throughout the winter.
"Violas are equal to the pansy," said Sanderlin. "To me, they are just smaller blooming pansies."
Violas produce blooms that almost completely cover the greenery on the plant and provide a sea of color, usually a deep blue or soft cream. They are perfectly suited for flower beds and container gardens.
Pansies produce much larger blooms and grow slightly taller than the violas. While violas come in only select colors, pansies can run the color scale, with plants in yellow, orange, burgundy, purple or mixed colors.
Sanderlin also recommends planting snapdragons now. While they will provide some color through the fall, they will go dormant during the winter. An abundance of blooms will return in the spring as a reward for early planting.
"You could also plant perennials now, but most people wait and plant those in the spring," added Sanderlin. "They would be dormant throughout the winter, but would have an early start in the ground if planted now."
So, while summer is a fading memory, the colors that fill the landscape don't have to disappear with the season. Planting now will ensure that on days when it's too cold to tour the garden, peeking out the window will brighten a dreary winter day.
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