Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fall Blooming Perennials, Part 1

I had originally thought I would make one post on Fall blooming perennials, but once I started thinking and writing, I realized that I would need 2 posts to get them all in and not be way too long, so here is part one. For my definition of Fall blooming, I have chosen things that don't start blooming until after Labor Day. There are certainly other things blooming in the garden, daylilies, hibiscus or various sorts, yarrows, hostas and others, but they have all been blooming for awhile or are reblooming. All of the plants I'm going to write about are just now starting to bloom, or in some cases, haven't even started their bloom yet for this season.
Blue Asters seem to pretty much say Fall for me. This one is Aster patens 'Slatey Blue'. This is tryly a late blooming plant that fortunately doesn't mind a bit of frost. This is a photo I took last year since it is only now beginning to bud. It's a large thing, 2 or 3 feet tall and at least as wide. At its peak bloom, there are hundreds, maybe thousands or blooms open at once. It makes an excellent cut flower for fall bouquets; excellent with some Golden Rod collected along the side of my road. Likes sun, but generally isn't very fussy about where it lives.

Chelone obliqua just doesn't look to me like a fall bloomer; maybe it's the pink bloom which doesn't seem to me to be a fall color. This one likes lite shade and doesn't seem to mind a slightly damp spot. About 2 feet tall or a little more and a slowly spreading clump.

Colchicum 'Violet Wonder' is sort of a magical plant. Like those Neked Ladies that were blooming in August, Colchicums put up their leaves in the spring. Dark green and heavy, straplike and produced in large numbers, they leave you anticipating wonderful flowers - which don't appear. The leaves fade away and you kind of forget about them. Then one September day, you go out, and where there was nothing yesterday, there is now this explosion of color and very un-Autumn-like blossoms. Some people call these Autumn Crocus, but they're not, they're Colchicums. Sun is best, but I've had some in light shade that also did fine. Those that ended up in heavy shade after trees got big around them had to be moved to a sunnier spot to keep blooming.

There are actually fall crocus and this one is named 'Kotschyanus' - a lovely blue with darker blue striping. This is another photo from last year since these have not yet come up this year. I just planted some more of these today since they are such a welcome sight this time of year. Right now, by the way, is the time to plant both fall crocus and colchicums.

Impatiens Omeiana makes a lovely show of foliage all summer, 12-18 inches tall, lightly patterned foliage in a clump that increases in size every year. This is a shade plant, though it seems to like some dappled sun, especially morning sun. Bright sun will leave you with a wilting and decidedly unhappy looking plant. I noticed this past weekend that it was starting to bud, so blooms should be out in a few days. They don't show it in this photo all that well, but they blossoms always remind me of goldfish hanging there. Even though this is an Impatiens, it is perfectly hardy here in zone 6 and probably good in zone 5 with some protection.

Kalimeris yomena 'Fuji' is a nice variegated plant all season. Dappled sun to light shade work equally well. Full sun doesn't seem to suit quite so much, though some sun will keep the variegation bright. It's easy to divide and I've divided mine several times so that I can spread the fall blooming around the garden. Only about a foot tall, it spreads nicely without being a pest and doesn't seem to seed around, at least it hasn't in the dozen or so years it has lived here.

The Kalimeris blooms are a nice pale blue aster-like flower and last for several weeks once they start. They make good cut flowers.

Leucoseptrum stellipilum also likes lite shade. This version (I grow 4 different ones) has a plain leaf and pink flower spikes. These clumps can get to be 3 feet tall and as wide. They seem to like a moist place and are well liked by honey bees.

This variegated Leucoseptrum likes the same conditions and has yellow/cream flower spikes. I have also gotten, last summer, one with green leaves with a gold edge, and one with gold leaves.

So that's it for the first installment of Fall Bloomers. All of these are quite hardy here in zone 6, though if you are a different zone, you should check on the hardiness for your zone. As far as I know, all are readily available.