Plant fall flowers and hot-weather tropical plants in fall colors like gold, orange and dark red.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day outside bringing fall color to my front garden. Last week, I placed fall flowers in my containers by the front door and on the back deck. The back of my house faces east–the best place in Oklahoma to grow things. We spend a lot of time on the deck in the evenings in late September and October. Normally, these two months are two of the most beautiful in Oklahoma. Hot-weather plants in autumnal hues are important to a southern garden like mine.
Previous years of fall decor.
In the past, I’ve put together different fall front-door decorations if you’d like to go take a look. I will probably pull out my Talavera pumpkins once we get into October. I may opt out of real pumpkins because they can be so messy. However, I might change my mind. It depends on my mood.
Here’s another year of fall container rehab and another of my fall-front-door container redo. Apparently, I like to write about this almost yearly. Fall can be such a relief after a long, hot summer, and the weather supports the fall flower garden dance in my gardens.
The front of my house faces west and is a bit more complicated than the back.
Normally, the west side of your house is full of the afternoon sun and is one hot place to garden. However, my log cabin is in the woods, and the most wooded part of our 7.5 acres is in front of my house. It is still hot but shaded until the leaves fall.
Because we have blackjack and post oaks, part of them lose their leaves in fall, and the others drop theirs in late winter/early spring. Leaves fall like snow here in two seasons, and I have a leaf shredder to help get them up and off of the turf grass in front. We leave the leaves intact at the edges of the property and in the lower pasture to encourage fireflies. I mulch the gardens with the shredded leaves.
Like I wrote above, it’s complicated. My front border can be very hot and sunny in spring and warms up too early sometimes, but is cool in summer for the most part and then warm and sunny in late fall unless we get an October surprise ice storm. Then, all bets are off.
We interrupt this post to report we’ve lost more trees.
This summer, I lost the loblolly pine that sits next to our bedroom. It suddenly died the other day. I watched it die in real-time. I found it rather sad. After last winter’s extreme cold, we’ve lost four or five full trees in addition to all the limbs. We may lose more. Let’s hope for a mild winter.
In summer my front borders are mostly green.
I don’t love my front garden in summer, but I adore it in spring and fall. In spring, it is full of blooming trees, hellebores, epimediums, and flowering bulbs and is just so pretty. I bring color in summer with caladiums and coleus. You can grow sun coleus in sun or shade and I make full use of these tropical plants. Then, when the weather cools a bit, I plant pansies and violas. I love how violas make mounds of pretty color while pansies have bigger flowers.
This year, I planted Inspire Plus Orange Blotch pansies and Sorbet XP Purple violas. I also planted snapdragons, and when I refer to planting these in Oklahoma, I’m referring to the shorter varieties. Beneath the snapdragons, I planted those violas. I think they will continue to look good throughout fall and later. Sometimes, if they are close to the house, and we have a mild winter, they make it all the way until spring. I then pinch them off, give them a little fertilizer or much with Back to Nature cotton burr compost, and snapdragons, pansies, and violas quickly rebound. Other years, I re-plant in spring.
Yellow mums make a shady border brighter.
I also placed three pots of yellow mums beneath the trees in the sunnier spots. Always buy mums when you can barely see the color. They last a lot longer that way. I love yellow mums in this space because the ‘Cherokee Chief’ dogwood will soon turn orange, and the Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’ will turn yellow and then gold. It is already beautiful, but the trees will make it more so. Yellow mums brighten up the dark space better than a lot of plants. After we planted everything, I spread pine tree bark–small pieces–as mulch. I’ll pick up the leaves as they fall.
My front containers are always a challenge.
One container gets a lot of sunshine, and the other does not. It is hard to achieve symmetry under these conditions, but I feel like I did this year. In fact, the black elephant ears, ‘Euphoric White’ euphobia, ‘Ace of Spades’ black sweet potato vine, and coleus did pretty well. In spring, I also had Calliope geraniums in red, but they didn’t like the hot weather very much. They’re alive, but quit blooming. I also used variegated ivy to trail out of the pot with the sweet potato vine.
For fall color, I planted brightly-colored ornamental peppers. I also bought a new rug for the front door, but I used a wreath from previous years. Very festive. At our local Lowe’s I found crotons in orange pots. I found some gorgeous glazed orange containers at TLC Nursery, but they were expensive, and I would only use them in fall so I talked myself out of them.
I also found a pot of ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ echinacea at Lowe’s. Anyone who knows me knows I love this echinacea for its toughness and color variety. Once the weather gets cold, and the echinacea has finished flowering, I’ll wait for a warm day to plant it out in the garden beds. I thought the rose blooms were quite fetching.
The long front border needs fall color too.
On the longer front border, I planted golden Japanese false nettle, Boehmeria nipononivea ‘Kogane Mushi.’ I have this in my back garden in the shade and I love how it is variegated and no fuss. It should help to lighten the border. The hydrangea growing next to it is ‘Snowflake,’ which I found in Tulsa because of my friend, Beth Teel. I bought Japanese false nettle from Bustani Plant Farm.
For the pansies in this border, I used Matrix Solar Flare. I couldn’t find any more Orange Blotch, and I like Matrix Solar Flare a lot. I used one flat of pansies in this flower border because I don’t have much space left open.
Coleus give so much and ask for so little.
I like how the coleus performed in this bed, and I’ll use more of it next spring and summer. Color is important to me, and coleus provides a lot of it. [Click on the image in the gallery to make them larger.]
Fall color on the back deck
On the back deck, wherever I lost a flower, I planted something for fall color. For the most part, the containers performed well over the summer. However, the armyworms loved the purple fountain grass so it looks a little ragged. Plus, when our cats go outside on the deck, they sometimes accidentally knock out the drip irrigation. I didn’t realize the problem until some pots became really dry.
Yesterday, I ran to Under the Sun–my favorite location is on Bryant and 2nd Street in Edmond–I found a new-to-me plant called Petchoa. When I went to California Spring Trials, I learned about interspecific hybrids, and I realized this must be a mix between a petunia and a calibrachoa. Now, my pot didn’t have a label with a lot of specifics, but I think it is SuperCal Premium Caramel Yellow Petchoa by process of elimination. There may also be more than one plant in the container. I haven’t studied it that hard, but I thought it was cool. I’m going to bring it into the greenhouse before the weather gets too cold. I want it for spring too. The leaves feel tougher than a traditional petunia.
Above are a few other plants I’m growing in my back deck containers. I love the cooler weather of fall, and I hope we get rain this week. It’s in the forecast.
Later, my friends!