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Planting Annuals in the Fall
Planting annuals for fall and early winter is a relatively new practice. About ten years ago, pansies were reintroduced to gardeners. This old-fashioned plant has become very popular since then. The new varieties were bred to be more heat tolerant than your grandmother’s thoughts. This extended their season to bloom until spring. They are doing so well that they have changed planting times to spring blooming profusely until the warm weather begins. Pansies bloom during warm winter periods and established plants bloom profusely when it is still too cold to plant summer annuals. Here in Virginia they bloom in June. Many gardeners, seeing their flower beds bloom freely, do not want to pull them out to start summer plants, and therefore will delay spring planting until their thoughts begin to fade.
Seeing the success of pansies, plant breeders have improved many plant varieties to extend this fall planting phenomenon. Agyranthemum, calibrachoa, and osteospermum are all examples of once-obscure plants that have entered the gardening mainstream. Perennials like huechera, with multicolored foliage, and grasses that add structure are combined to create distinct fall plantings. Unlike pansies that survive the winter, these fall annuals tolerate frost and will eventually succumb to cold temperatures. Because they grow for less time, they are best used in containers where they will create the desired fall effect.
Having followed this fall planting process for several years, I find that the perennials will reappear in the spring and sprout the following summer. I have several large containers on my patio; this method makes spring planting quick and easy. When using container perennials, I only need to add a few select annuals in the spring. I also love the effect of always having mature plants in each container, even in early spring. I urge gardeners to plant some of their containers this fall; Start where they will have the most effect, like near doorways or on patios. Start seeing each container as a mini garden, which continues throughout the year and only requires a little work in the spring and fall.
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#Planting #Annuals #Fall