Fall is a great time to plant. It's like finding 6 months of low care growing time by getting plants in the ground in fall. It gives them plenty of time to root out before next year's growing season gets under way. And this provides the gardener with bigger, more colorful plants than waiting until spring to plant.
For USDA zones 3-6, concentrate on the more cold hardy plants because many of them prefer the cooler weather of fall and early spring to grow and bulk up for next year.
Here is a short list of some new-for-fall plants that are recommended for fall planting in cold winter areas:
Mesa™ Peach Blanket flower (Gaillardia grandiflora Mesa™ Peach) - With outstanding vigor, uniform size and summer-long bloom, Mesa™ Peach Blanket Flower is an excellent native plant for parts of your garden where hot, dry, poor soil conditions predominate. The “peach-colored flowers seem to be dipped in golden honey” which makes the blossoms stunningly bright.
‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops (Calylophus hartwegii ‘High Plains Yellow’) -‘High Plains Yellow’ Sundrops is a long-blooming wildflower introduction that I collected from the rugged, high dry plains of eastern New Mexico. This tough little native perennial is well adapted to heat, cold, wind and drought. Colorful, red speckled buds burst open to revel large, brilliant yellow flowers. It flowers all summer.
'Gold on Blue' Prairie Zinnia (Zinnia grandiflora 'Gold on Blue') - A superb prairie native that I selected from a wild population in southern Colorado. It blooms for several months beginning in mid-summer, with a profuse display of golden yellow flowers. The decidedly blue, fine textured foliage is a beautiful backdrop for the flowers. A great xeric groundcover plant.
For mild winter/hot summer regions of the country such as the Desert Southwest (southern, lower elevation parts of Utah, Nevada and Arizona), Texas and California, fall is THE best time for planting, not spring. Here is a short list of some new-for-fall plants that are recommended for fall planting in mild winter areas:
Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is a best choice for the Desert Southwest, Texas and other very hot summer regions as it is better adapted to these conditions that often "melt" less heat tolerant English and French hybrid types.
'Portuguese Giant' - 'Portuguese Giant' is a true wildflower, only recently collected from the foothills of the Pyrenees and selected by Oregon's Lavender maestro AndyVan Hevelingen. A big robust grower, it blooms in mid-spring with showy deep purple rabbit ear type flowers.
'Lutsko's Dwarf' - for smaller spaces and containers, this dwarf Spanish lavender has showy purple flowers held over a compact spreading mat of gray fragrant foliage. I plant it around tall growing, upright Rosemary. A showy, but hard-to-find variety!
'Hantamberg Orange' African Daisy (Gazania krebsiana 'Hantamberg Orange') - “Breathtaking” is the best way to describe ‘Hantamberg Orange’ African Daisy in full flower. Huge glowing orange daisies bloom over long, thin silver leaves for many months. I found this spectacular African perennial wildflower growing around the base of the fabulous flat topped mountain known as the Hantamberg in the eastern Cape of South Africa nearly a decade ago.
'Scarlet Tanager' African Daisy (Gazania krebsiana 'Scarlet Tanager') - A stunning scarlet flowered perennial Gazania with narrow dark green leaves, it blooms spring and fall. The intensely brilliant color of the flowers is unlike anything else you've grown.
Giant Stipa Grass (Stipa gigantea) - A little known ornamental grass native to the Mediterranean of southern Europe, Giant Stipa Grass creates a dramatic, eye-catching presence in the landscape. This grass blooms in late spring with graceful, sunlight catching six-foot-tall flower spikes. Out-of-bloom, its mound of bright green foliage is only about 15” tall and wide.
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