by Connie Oswald Stofko
“There’s a lot of color here,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, as he surveyed the tables full of flowering perennials and annuals at Mischler’s.
As you look around your garden in late summer, do you still see exciting color? If not, try these tips.
Plant perennials that flower now
Go to garden centers such as Mischler’s now and you’ll see many perennials in bloom. Some of these weren’t blooming in late May or early June, so you might have walked right by them. You bought flowering plants that bloomed early in the season, but now they have fizzled out.
Shop now to see perennials that look great now.
And yes, you can still plant perennials now.
In fact, here are five reasons why you should plant perennials in autumn. One of those reasons is that garden centers have perennials on sale now. Mischler’s has just begun its White Tag Sale with select perennials. Shop early for the best selection.
Refresh your containers
Your mixed container looked great most of the summer, but now one or two of the plants look awful.
Well, don’t leave it like that! Yadon suggests pulling out the scraggly plants and replacing them with plants that are vibrant now.
Some replacement choices are:
- An autumn annual, such as winter pansy, ornamental pepper, flowering kale or mums. Early mums are available now at Mischler’s. They’re just budding or beginning to open, so if you buy mums now, you can watch them blossom.
- A perennial in flower (see examples below)
- Ornamental grass
Create a new container with perennials, annuals or a mixture
Yes, you can buy a mum in a pot and set it out as is. But you can also make a more interesting container by mixing plants that have different colors, heights and textures. The pot itself can add color.
Mischler’s also has pots already assembled with a mixture of plants for autumn.
Colorful flowers for late summer
Here are a few examples of plants that flower in August and September in Western New York.
Erodium is an annual that starts flowering in spring. It may stop for a week or two, but it’s pretty much a constant bloomer.
It’s a low-growing plant, getting only three to six inches tall. You can pop one into a container to replace a plant that is past its prime.
Erodium likes sun to part shade. Allow the soil to dry between waterings.
Unlike some of the other plants in this article, plumbago (Plumbago ceratostigma) isn’t a long-flowering plant; it comes into its own in late August. That’s when it produces colorful clusters of blue flowers. (See the image at the top of this article.)
Plumbago is a perennial. It has low-growing mats of foliage, making it a good ground cover. It gets six to eight inches tall.
Another point of interest is that the green foliage turns to a mahogany color in fall.
It likes sun or partial shade.
Scabiosa or pincushion flower
Scabiosa or pincushion flower is a perennial. It’s long blooming, from summer to autumn.
The plant gets about a foot tall and likes full sun.
Mischler’s has several varieties of gaillardia or blanket flower, and they all like full sun. They’re long bloomers with flowers from summer through autumn. The one pictured above is ‘Arizona Red Shade’, which grows 12 inches tall.
Echinacea is often referred to as purple coneflower, but there are many echinacea hybrids with a variety of flower colors including white, yellow, deep pink and red. The hybrids tend to be shorter than Echinacea purpurea, which is native to other parts of the United States and reaches 36 inches.
Echinacea plants do well in sun.
By the way, purple coneflowers have pink petals, not purple.
Hardy hibiscus is another perennial that doesn’t flower until the end of summer, but when it finally bloms, it has large, dramatic flowers. This shrubby plant can get three feet tall.
It’s one of the last perennials to come back in the spring, so just be patient. You’ll be happy you waited.