Some folks think winter can be boring in the garden and landscape. But just when temperatures start to drop, one of my favorite flowering plants decides to suddenly strut its stuff for all to see.
Wherever cassia is planted in the landscape, the tropical-looking flowers are sure to create winter interest.
The prolific winter blooms of winter cassia make it a show-stopping plant. The effect is heightened because the brightly colored blooms seem to appear out of nowhere. Winter cassia is also called Christmas Senna because it is commonly in full glory at this time.
Although it seems like Christmas decorations have been in the stores since Labor Day, what really tells me it’s beginning to look like Christmas is when the poinsettias hit the garden centers.
Poinsettias may be the perfect plant for the Christmas season. In their native Mexico, the poinsettia’s bright red flowers of are known as Flores de la Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, as they bloom each year during the Christmas season.
The snapdragon is a longtime favorite flower of mine for the cool-season landscape.
Many home gardeners seem surprised when I tell them snapdragons are pretty tolerant of cold weather. We are lucky to be able to grow these great landscape plants in Mississippi from the cool, fall season to the rising temperatures of spring. Once planted and acclimated, snapdragons seem to say, “Bring on the cold weather.”
Through the year, I get quite a few questions concerning landscape issues, plant care and plant identification. Answering questions and helping home gardeners find success in their gardening endeavors is fun.
I’ve gotten questions from as far away as California. I have to admit that some of the questions make me think I’m on a game show called “Stump Gary,” and I learn a thing or two researching the answers. This question and answer time feels kind of like two gardeners sharing landscape tips across the back fence.
Here are a couple of questions I’ve recently received:
This weekend, the thermometer in my garden got down to the low 30s and left me wondering if I’ve seen the last of my tomatoes and peppers. But it also reminded me that it’s time to transition to plants that thrive in lower temperatures.
Ornamental kale is one of my favorites for the cool season. There are so many different colors and leaf textures to add landscape interest. Don’t plant a single type. Mix and match for increased visual interest.
Many Southerners (in general) and Mississippians (in particular) base their new plant selections on the annual recommendations from the Mississippi Medallion Selection Committee. The committee has just announced three winners for 2015: Delta Jazz crape myrtle, Suburban Nancy Gayle daylily and Top Pot scaevola.
It’s not just people who are happy when temperatures finally start to decrease in the fall. Many summer-flowering annuals that look pretty worn out at Labor Day get a second wind and perk back up.
For this reason, late September and October give us some of the best annual color of the entire year.
Some of my favorite fall-flowering summer annuals are Zahara zinnias, which produce mounds of colorful flowers. The plants are robust and have excellent branching to support the many flowers. Plus, these plants have a natural resistance to powdery mildew.
Probably every gardener enjoys the fall season with cooler weather and extra butterfly activity. If you’re one who can’t get enough of the butterflies, you should consider including one of my favorites, the butterfly bush, in your landscape.
Butterflies and even hummingbirds love the flowers of this plant, which is known botanically as Buddleia.
More than 30 years ago, an idea was sown that the gardening public in Mississippi needed a fall field day. What started then as a small demonstration garden has blossomed into the annual Fall Flower and Garden Fest at Mississippi State University’s Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station.
After the heat we’ve had this summer, thank goodness fall officially arrives this week. Fall was always a favorite season for me growing up in Michigan because it meant cooler weather, going to the cider mill and, of course, the beautiful red and orange tree colors.
Living in Mississippi, I still like fall, but I miss the foliage colors. A few red maples scattered about will put on a fiery orange show some years, but it’s not the same as in the North. If you want fall foliage color in the South, here are a few of my favorite plants that should make you happy.
Nature always gives us signals as seasons change. When summer starts to shift toward fall, the leaves begin to change colors. Another sure sign that fall is right around the corner is the arrival of colorful and beautiful fall mums in garden centers.
Now is the time to plan how and where to use these plants effectively around your home and landscape. A newer trend for growers is to mix colors in containers, so be ready for even more decisions.
As I was browsing through the garden center this weekend, I saw the first display of pansies for the upcoming fall and winter season. I consider this a positive sign as we are all still sweltering with the summer heat.
My taste buds love hot peppers, but the rest of me really likes the increased use of peppers as ornamentals.
Each year there are more ornamental peppers being introduced to the landscape market. Most ornamental peppers pack heat and are edible. Besides the culinary heat, many of these hot peppers are colorful and have great potential for use in the landscape.
I think hardy hibiscuses are must-have summer plants guaranteed to brighten our gardens and landscapes after a long, hot summer. But to many gardeners, the hardy hibiscus is a well-kept secret.
These plants are very different from tropical hibiscuses. The hardy hibiscus is winter hardy, and its foliage is not as glossy as the tropical hibiscus. Despite these differences, both varieties have bright, beautiful flowers.
Some of the garden vegetables I miss in the summer are leafy greens.
High temperatures cause undesirable bitterness in the greens, and I don’t like high temperatures, either. But there is a way you can enjoy fresh-grown greens in the summer and not even leave the air conditioning: You can grow your own microgreens.
Growing microgreens is a fun way to add fresh flavors and a tender crunch to your dishes. I have been growing microgreens for about five years, and they are easy for the home gardener to grow.
Colorful caladiums at a popular theme park fascinated me on a recent trip to Florida. They were everywhere I looked.
Some caladiums neatly defined border edges or were mass planted in beds, but they were not all planted in the usual landscape places. The caladiums were planted in containers of every shape, size and color, and some were even in hanging baskets.