COOL WEATHER FLOWER
Why to do and when to do it
Many people donít consider flower gardens in fall because they believe it to be a short season.† After all, winter is coming.† Shrubs and trees go dormant and flowers donít do well in winter cold, right?† Not exactly--winters in southwest deserts are traditionally mild.† There are a surprising number of flowering plants that like cooler weather and tolerate severe cold snaps as well. Not only are there flower that survive winter, but there are several that will flower all winter and thrive in the cold weather.
How do you plant cool season flowers?† Finding a spot with sunshine that you can also get a shovel into is a great start!
Once you have this accomplished, donít forget youíll need irrigation (usually) and then you will want to improve the soil with organic material like Paydirt‘ Planting Mix or Humus Gro, add Dr. Qís“ Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer, plant, water, fertilize monthly and enjoy! Container gardens are super!
Select your new plants carefully
Donít bury plant roots
Pinch plants back and remove blooms
Before a cold snap
Calendula is a compact plant with large yellow or orange flowers.† Itís good in masses, borders or containers.† Clip spent flowers to encourage repeat blooming.† At itís peak in late fall and early spring.
These flowers will give you color all winter:
English Primrose is a classic, cool weather favorite that does very well in light sun to full shade.† Large-leafed and compact, it has flower stems in rich colors of yellow, pink, purple and white.† Plant in shaded areas where pansies, stock and kale would perform poorly.† (top)
Iceland Poppy has flowers that float above their foliage like brightly colored tissue paper.† Colors in shades of pink, peach, orange, apricot and gold.† Remove flower stalks to keep neat.† Prettiest when grown alone.
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale are edible but prized for their deep colors of purple, pink and white.† The colder the weather, the brighter the colors!† Excellent in borders or masses; surround with smaller cool season flowers like pansies and violas.† Plant smaller specimens in fall, larger sizes in winter.† (top)
Pansy is a very popular, tough little plant available in nearly every color imaginable!† Majestic Giants have large flowers with ďfaces,Ē the Crown varieties have vivid colors without faces.† Plant fall through winter in any sunny spot.† Not bothered by the coldest weather.† Great in masses, borders or containers.† Pick spent flowers and pinch back occasionally to keep compact shape.
Stock is an old fashioned favorite known for its strongly fragrant flowers.† It blooms profusely in shades of purple, lavender, pink and white right through the winter and into late spring.† Midget or Green Leaf Stock is a short variety with brighter flowers.† Trysomic or Seven Week Stock is taller and bushier.† Use the tall varieties for background color and shorter varieties as borders or mixers.†† (top)
Viola resembles a miniature pansy with loads of purple, yellow or bicolor flowers atop pansy-like foliage.† Itís delicate, tough and attractive.† Plant in borders or masses, or mix with other cool season flowers.
Dianthus is a member of the carnation family that makes perfect mounds of color in fall and spring.† Deadhead after blooming. Shows nearly endless color varieties from deep red through pink, purple, white and bicolor.† Youíll even get summer blooms if the plant has some afternoon shade. In the winter Dianthus will stay green and healthy, but you are not likely to see flowers. Will also grow well in part shade.† Plant anywhere in the garden.††
Snapdragon is a winter specialist! You will have blooms from September through May. Can survive summers if given deep roots or afternoon shade. Snaps are available in many colors and sizes; Dwarf varieties are excellent for masses, foregrounds and borders.† Taller varieties work well as background plantings.† All do well in containers.† Self sows readily and produces endless color variations due to cross pollination.† (top)
HANDY COOL WEATHER FLOWER TIPS:
Select your new plants carefully. Avoid root bound plants for best results.† If roots seem tight or congested, loosen them slightly before planting.
Donít bury plant roots. Keep them at the surface when you plant. Exception:† If Cabbage or Kale has a long stem, plant it so that the leafy head is resting on top of the mulch you added over the rootball.
Good drainage is important.† Soil gives up water less readily in cool weather, so water less often.† Cold, soggy soil means death to plants! Watering once a week when the weather is cool is usually plenty.
Fertilize regularly throughout the season.† Scatter Dr. Qís“ Flower Food around your plants every 4-6 weeks to promote continuous blooming.
Mulch the soil surface to protect roots from hard freezes and cool the soil as the weather gets hotter.
Pinch plants back and remove blooms as needed to keep your flower bed neat and productive.
Before a cold snap Water plants thoroughly to prevent them from becoming ďfreeze driedĒ in howling winter winds.
Donít forget Container Gardens for the Fall and Winter!
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