Cool Season Annuals

Dan Devenport  |  12/2/2015 4:51:23 PM

This is the time to plant cool-season bedding plants in your flower beds. These plants will thrive in the cool to cold weather of fall to spring and keep your flower beds looking attractive.

I have begun to divide cool-season bedding plants into four categories based on how we plant them and when they bloom. I’m trying to come up with short, appropriate names for these groups, but here’s what I have so far: “bloom all season group,” “take the winter off group,” “plant in fall and bloom in spring group,” and “plant me early and young group.”

What every category has in common is that a fall planting generally gives the best results.

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Bloom all season

These are among the most useful and popular of the cool-season bedding plants. Blooming transplants are available at local nurseries and garden centers now. They are planted in bloom in the fall, and they continue to bloom all through our mild winter with a big crescendo of flowers in March and April. Planted now, in other words, they will provide flowers in your gardens for five or six months. Now that’s what I call a big bang for your gardening buck.

In this category, you will find pansy, dianthus, alyssum, viola, calendula, stock and ornamental cabbage and kale (grown for their colorful foliage). I think diascia, nemisia and toadflax also fall into this category, but flowering may be reduced in midwinter.

Take the winter off

You can purchase blooming transplants of plants in this group now. Purchasing plants in bloom is nice because it allows you to select just the shades of colors you are looking for. Blooming transplants also provide immediate color to the landscape.

In the case of these cool-season bedding plants, though, blooming is reduced or stops as the short days and long nights of midwinter approach. When they go out of bloom, however, these plants continue growing large, strong root systems and robust leaves and stems.

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