Ahh summer as it bleeds into autumn, with the tell-tale cooling breezes and pumpkins coming into their own; if only some flowers could remain and soften the edge of the turning of the seasons…and not surprisingly there are flowers that do exactly that! While most people know that the crocus is the harbinger of spring, the fall purple crocus begins in late August and continues through the fall. Fall flowers come in many colors and enjoy different soils so that every part of your garden can have its ’pop’ of color!
Asters– There are several varieties of asters that are native to New Jersey. They are perennials, so you will be assured they come back every year. Asters look somewhat like daisies with a yellow center, although their petals come in a variety of colors. Asters come in shades of purple, pink, white, and blue, and break the traditional end-of-the-season color palette. Asters thrive in the shade. Aster season is typically mid-September to mid- October, but if the weather remains mild, perhaps into November.
- Bonus: Aster is one of the best plants to feed hungry bees and butterflies in autumn.
Fall Crocus – Fall crocus bulbs are generally planted in late August and bloom very quickly. The vibrant purple flowers will give a final pop of color to your garden that will last through the fall season. These autumn flowers thrive in the sunshine and in only moderately moist soil. If you are planting crocus bulbs now, make sure to get them in before the first frost.
- Bonus: An added benefit of planting fall crocus is that you can harvest the stamens for saffron. Saffron is an expensive spice, so this is a great alternative than having to purchase it at the store.
Obedient Plant – The pink and white flowers of this plant grow 18 to 36 inches tall in clusters. These plants thrive in moderately fertile soil. They grow in late summer and early fall. Obedient plants are purple and white and grow in clusters. The Obedient plant gets its name from the fact that a flower pushed towards one side or another will remain in this position, which can help fill in gaps in your landscaping. This flower announces the arrival of fall, usually flourishing in the early days of the season.
- Bonus: This flower is relatively deer resistant. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies will all enjoy the flowers.
Chrysanthemums – These flowers are the epitome of the fall flower. They bloom in so many colors to fit any landscaping or decorative design. These a wonderful addition to any New Jersey garden as they bloom many flowers as well as being low maintenance. Mums come in different sizes also, from button mums to the purplish-pink “Sweet Peg” that is 3/4-inch semi- double blossoms in October, while another bursts out in 3 1/2- inch magenta, single blooms the same month. Interestingly, garden mums will not start to set buds until the nights last about 10 hours long. Blooms follow in six to 10 weeks.
- Bonus: Mums are deer resistant!
Sweet Autumn Clematis – For anyone looking for an autumn vine flower, this one is a great choice. The flowers are white and star-shaped, so they will complement any other flowers in the garden. These flowers are great growers, and they need to be pruned back in early fall as they have the tendency to spread.
- Bonus: When there is not much else blooming late in the season, this clematis brings color as well as providing food for bees and butterflies.
Flowering Kale – Also called ornamental cabbage, this is one of the toughest plants for fall. It holds up well to frosty temperatures and looks good all winter long if the winter is mild. Kale offers dramatic colors in pinks, purples, and reds, and pairs well with just about every fall flower. Flowering kale is bred specifically for its ornamental appearance, not for taste. Do not attempt to eat!
- Bonus: This is as cool weather flower, that prefers its soil cool and air temperatures 50 to 60 degrees, if not lower and when acclimated can survive temperatures of 5F degrees!
And then there is one more, not so much planned as there anyway. The ubiquitous Morning Glory, one of the latest blooming of the season. This vine can climb to a height of fifteen feet. The flowers can be blue, purple, red, white, as well as variations of these colors. Although it comes back every year, the colors may change. Morning glory vines may last until the first hard frost; however, the flowers only last a day. Meaning the purple flower, you saw yesterday is not the same one you saw today.
Ah the joys of the changing of the seasons, and one last splash of flowering colors amid the changing leaves and wood smoke. Enjoy!