Cool Season Plants with Color

Jeremy Hebert  |  10/21/2011 11:36:09 PM

Now that we have had a really good taste of cooler weather, a lot of people are thinking about planting cooler season plants into their landscapes. With a large variety of cool-season flowers to choose from, finding the right plants that fit your needs shouldn’t be a problem. Plants like pansies, violas, snapdragons, petunias, and garden mums can add a variety of color and contrast to your landscape and keep your landscape looking great throughout the winter.

Pansies come in a variety of colors so finding that perfect color shouldn’t be a problem. Their colors can range from whites to purples, reds to blues, and everywhere else in-between. Pansies come in several different flower sizes; they come in either large, medium, or small. Make sure when choosing pansies that you pick the right flower size for your needs. On average, the flower size of pansies range from 2 to 3 inches in diameter which makes it a great plant to add to many flower beds. These plants, which can add a burst of color to any landscape, can grow up to 9 inches in height and they prefer full-sun planting locations (7-8 hrs of sunlight would be ideal) and well-draining soils. Having the right soil pH is also important when planting pansies; a soil pH of 5.5 – 6.0 would be suitable. When planting pansies, planting the plants 8 – 10 inches apart, having the plants at least 3 – 4 rows deep and grouping in colors (or scattering colors throughout) is an option. Depending on your objective, grouping colors in masses can make a bolder impact and draw the eye to certain parts of the landscape versus sporadically mixing colors and making a more uniform color spectrum throughout the bed; use whatever color scheme you are trying to achieve for your particular needs.

Violas are another great cool-season flowering plant that can be added to landscapes in the fall and its coloring flowers can be enjoyed throughout the winter. Like their cousin, the pansy, violas come in a variety of colors. Colors like white, lime, rose, red, and many more colors are easy to find and can be easily incorporated into the landscape beds. Violas only get about 6 – 10 inches tall and have a relatively small flower. Violas bloom fairly early into the cooler season and their blooms usually last longer into the spring when compared to pansies. Vibrant, rich viola colors can be used to energize the landscape and make a smaller landscape appear to be larger. When combining a variety of colored violas, it is recommended to combine colors that complement or work well together. With the variety of colors that violas offer, creating an exciting or energetic, mellow or soothing landscape should be a breeze!

Snapdragons can add a certain contrast when planted with flowers like pansies or violas. Due to their vertical flower spikes and their height (which dwarf varieties grow to about 10 inches tall while taller varieties grow to a height of 18 – 24 inches), they can add a height contrast. With their vertical flower spikes, they can produce seven to eight blossom spikes throughout the growing season. Like most flowering plants, finding that perfect color shouldn’t be hard to find. Snapdragons come in a variety of colors; the colors can range from yellows to pinks, blues to reds, violets to whites, and many other colors. When planting snapdragons, they should be planted about 8 – 12 inches apart, this will give the plant the most room to grow, and also plant snapdragons in full sun or mostly sunny spots. As the snapdragons grow and flower, they will produce many blooms on the vertical shoots and continue to bloom until late spring. Remember when planting with pansies of violas, it is best to plant snapdragons in back of pansies and violas due to their height and vertical flowering shoots.

Petunias are another great addition when talking about adding color to any landscape. They look great placed throughout the landscape as well as looking great being perfectly placed in planters or in hanging baskets. Petunias will add a variety of color from the fall and throughout the spring (spring being the best time for flowering). For petunias to be at their best in the spring, they need to be planted in the fall! When planting petunias, space the plants 8 – 10 inches apart and make sure the bed is well-drained. Make sure when planting petunias that they receive a lot of sunlight; the best planting practice would be full sun/partial shade. They too can add a wide range of color to the landscapes that surround your house. With their trumpet like flowers and the variety of colors that they offer, these plants tend to be very popular here in Louisiana. The blooms on petunias will last throughout the summer, but some varieties will require deadheading and pruning back in order for the plant to continue to set flower buds. Unlike pansies and violas, they are not has hardy when it comes to frost and extreme cold temperatures so if frost and cold temperatures and in the forecast, make sure the proper procedures are in place to protect the plants from the outside elements.

Garden mums are a plant that when you see them, you know fall has arrived! These plants are relatively easy to take care of and provide a nice, full, and colorful view when added to the landscape. Like Petunias, garden mums can be planted in the landscape or they do very well in pots, hanging baskets, and planters; they too can add color wherever you feel color is needed. Like most cool-season flowering plants, garden mums prefer full sun in order to perform to their maximum potential and offer continuous flowering. When choosing garden mums for the landscape, make sure you select the color that is best suited for what you are trying to achieve. With a variety of colors to choose from, choosing a color (or colors) should be an easy chore to do. Look for garden mums that are dense and have a really good dome shape about their canopy. Also choosing garden mums that have open flowers as well as closed buds is important because this will give you the most continuous color throughout the fall season. If placing garden mums into the landscape, it is important to have a well-drained landscape bed and to not plant garden mums too close to one another. Garden mums will grow fairly rapidly and continue their dome shape so making sure the proper spacing (about 1 ½’ between mums) is done will ensure that the garden mums have room to grow.

Adding color to landscapes in the fall is a fun and exciting time for many. With the wide variety of plants and colors that are offered, making the landscape fit the time of year is done so without much effort. Adding a burst of color here and a splash of color there, can transform your ordinary landscape into a seasonal dynasty that can easy on the eye! With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, adding color in the yard can get anyone ready for the holiday season!

Speaking of the holiday season, be sure and mark it on your calendar that on December 14th, the Acadia Parish LSU AgCenter will be hosting a Poinsettia and Christmas Tree Seminar from 10:00 am until 12:00pm. LSU AgCenter Specialists will be talking about different poinsettia varieties, how to maximize your poinsettia’s potential throughout the growing season, proper Christmas tree maintenance and safety, and much, much more! Poinsettias will be given out as door prizes so be sure to attend. This seminar is free and open to the public.

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