Many of us look forward to spring and summer to enjoy the boost that flowers add to your curb appeal. We often ignore the opportunities to add interest to our flower beds in the fall. As temperatures begin to decrease in late September, a window of opportunity opens up for a change in seasonal color beds. While annuals are likely to still have some nice show left, fall plants bring a fresh look to your beds. They also need time to establish before the first freeze. This means pulling annuals a bit early in exchange for better cold tolerant plants like mums and pansies.
Mums are perfect for adding instant color to your beds. They are a great compliment to any landscape because they come in almost every color except blue. Mums like cooler temperatures, which preserves their bloom time. In fact, their blooms fade fast in warmer weather. Most varieties will survive through the first frost, however a hard freeze will kill the blooms. Naturally, mums will only bloom for about four to six weeks. It’s important to get them in early enough to be able to enjoy them while the weather is perfect, which is typically during the month of October in our area of the country.
Another great option for fall color is pansies. They are slower to fill in, but they will last longer than mums. They can survive early winter temperatures. Consistent highs in the upper 20s will stress the blooms and they will decline through the winter. If you want your pansies to have the best chance of surviving a typical Kansas City winter, get the plants well established before the harsh weather arrives. The deep, well-established root system typically keeps the plants alive while the foliage takes a beating.
Fall is also prime time to cut back perennials once the cold weather has forced them into dormancy. This would include plants like hostas, daylilies, and other non-woody plants. Woody shrubs like roses and decorative grasses should be addressed in the late winter or early spring.
Once your perennials have been cleaned up, you should freshen the mulch and look for declining plant material. Fall is a wonderful time to plant and replace any plants, shrubs or trees that are not performing well. Irrigation requirements will not be as high and the cooler temperatures will encourage root development, setting the stage for successful growth the following year.
Take advantage of the fall to create interest in your property through color and a little maintenance. These impressions will last for months and typically require less maintenance than your late spring and summer plantings.