Winter Annuals Are Moving In

Chrysanthemums bloom between summer and winter.

It is inevitable. It begins at about the same time that cool season vegetable plants start to replace warm season vegetable plants. Cool season vegetables are now in season, and will grow during autumn and winter. They replace warm season vegetables of spring and summer. Winter annuals, or cool season annuals, now do the same for summer annuals. 

Some summer annuals, or warm season annuals, are already shabby by the end of their season. Their replacement is not so unpleasant. Those that continue to perform well into the end of summer or autumn are a bit more difficult to evict. No one likes to pull them up while they still bloom colorfully. Besides, new winter annuals may take a while to bloom.

Winter annuals, as well as summer annuals, require replacement because they live only for a single year. Some complete their respective life cycle within only a few months of a year. That is what their designation as ‘annual’ means. Several annuals have potential to survive as perennials, but are too unappealing to salvage through their dormant season.

Marigold and chrysanthemum are popular for autumn, but do not perform as well through winter. Cyclamen, which prefers a late start, is pleased to replace them by then. Although chrysanthemum and cyclamen are both perennials, few get the opportunity to perform as such. It is easier to simply remove and replace them with the next best seasonal annual.

Pansy, viola, Iceland poppy, sweet William, stock and various primrose are all in season now and through winter. Calendula and snapdragon are seasonable for autumn, and will be again for early spring. They survive and can even bloom through the middle of winter locally. Alyssum is technically a summer annual, but might bloom all through winter also. 

Winter annuals are not as easy to grow from seed as summer annuals are. Because they grow during cooler weather, they grow slower. They therefore need to start growing early to be ready for planting now. It is perhaps more practical to plant most types as seedlings from cell packs. Cyclamen and ornamental cabbage commonly grow from four inch pots. These are innately more expensive than other winter annuals.

Six on Saturday: Naked Ladies And Neighbors

Naked lady, Amaryllis belladonna, is common beyond the landscapes here. Most live on roadsides, likely because that is where we relocate superfluous bulbs, and toss seed after deadheading. All the flowers of a big colony outside the gates at our industrial yard got harvested as they came into bloom this year! Another colony at the historic depot blooms most spectacularly, and was just deadheaded after I got these pictures. Since they were finished with bloom, and still lack foliage, there was not much to get six pictures of. That is why I got two pictures of their neighbors with a third picture of where former neighbors had been.

1. Sarcococca ruscifolia, which does not do well elsewhere, became an exemplary foundation hedge here on the historic depot. Why is it all gone now? A sewer to a septic system was replaced.

2. Echinacea purpurea continues to bloom on the front of the same historic depot. It is prettier than that recently exposed mud between the foundation and the driveway on the opposite side.

3. Amaryllis belladonna continues to bloom, sort of. The majority finished bloom a while ago. Their many bare stems are visible in the background. A few small colonies bloom distinctly later.

4. Amaryllis belladonna otherwise looks like this now. The stems that finished blooming are slightly taller than those that continue to bloom slightly later. Seed will get tossed on the roadside.

5. Amaryllis belladonna that bloom later have pale brownish stems. The five pale brownish stems in the foreground here continue to bloom. The greener stems in the background are finished.

6. Hydrangea macrophylla is unusually happy in front of the historic depot. This floral truss is about a foot wide. There would be more like this, but deer ate them and the roses before bloom.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Six on Saturday: Late Summer Flowers

Spring is the favorite season among the majority of those who enjoy gardening. I do not really have a favorite season though. Dormant pruning is perhaps my favorite chore, which happens in winter. Stone fruits, which are perhaps my favorite, ripen in summer. I so enjoy the foliar color of autumn. Well, it is still too early for autumn foliar color. In the meantime, the flowers of late summer are blooming. Compositae is the ruling family for a while. It is not too late for the last few roses. Japanese anemones, although locally rare, bloom also.

1. Sunflower should be the grand finale; but I could not get a sufficiently good picture, without the utility cables above and the sun in the background. Nonetheless, it exemplifies late summer.

2. Rose is the one flower of these six that has been blooming all summer, so is not actually limited to late summer. It is a cheap carpet rose, which I loathe, but happens to provide pretty color.

3. Chrysanthemum landed in the landscapes after getting left behind from an event. It was formerly a fancy ‘potted mum’. Now, it is unrefined and rustic, but blooms reliably for late summer.

4. Marigold is one of many annual bedding plants that I can not figure out. Is it a warm season annual that really could bloom all summer, or is it actually limited to late summer and autumn?

5. Marigold exhibits a limited color range of yellow, orange, rusty red, almost brown and very pale yellow that is described as white. We got only yellow, as seen above, and this simple orange.

6. Anemone, or more specifically, Japanese anemone, is a rather mundane pale pink. I would prefer it to be either clear white or a more blatant pink. I like it though, because it is what we got.

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

Color Wanes As Summer Ends

Summer blooms will be finishing soon.

Black-eyed Susan, sunflowers and a few of the late warm season annuals and perennials are still blooming, and a few will continue into autumn. By that time, cool season annuals can move in; and some of the deciduous trees, shrubs and vines that turn color for autumn will be doing so. Realistically though, this can be the leanest time of year for color in the garden. Even some of the foliage that is colorful through spring and summer has faded.

There are certainly plenty of flowers in season now. However, not many are colorful. Honeysuckle vine is pleasantly fragrant as it bloom in random phases until the weather gets cooler, but the flowers are only pale yellowish white. Some melaleuca trees bloom profusely enough to make a mess, but are just as pale, and do not even provide fragrance; although some have pretty light pink flowers. Abelia flowers are pink and abundant, but are really not all that flashy against their bronzy foliage.

Some of the more colorful flowers are not quite as reliable. Princess flower, hibiscus, blue hibiscus and mandevilla certainly can bloom in late summer or autumn, but sometimes bloom earlier than expected, so have nothing left for later. The bright red flowers of blood red trumpet vine are quite impressive, but only if they are not obscured by the accompanying foliage. Some roses bloom in phases as late as the weather will allow, but actually, most are done by now.

Fuchsia and angel’s trumpet likewise bloom in a few phases once they get started, but unlike the many cultivars of roses, they are much more reliable for a late bloom phase. Escallonia blooms late with small but colorful flowers, but only if they have not been shorn in the past few months. Shearing deprives them of the blooming stem tips that they had worked most of the year for.

Butterfly bush, tree mallow, cape plumbago, bee balm and several varieties of sage and salvia are among the most reliable plants for late summer or autumn bloom. Even without multiple bloom phases, they just naturally bloom at the end of their growing season, before winter dormancy.

Something Blue

Is periwinkle blue, or slightly purplish?

Blue must be unpopular with the more common of pollinators. After all, colorful flowers are designed to attract some sort of vector to exchange pollen. It seems that most pollinators like yellow. Red and pink (which is actually a tint of red) seem to be more appealing to hummingbirds. Butterflies seem to really like pink and orange. Many flowers that seem to be white actually use infrared to attract bees, or ultraviolet to attract nocturnal moths. Other white flowers rely on wind, which is not discriminating about color.

Of the primary (red, yellow and blue) and secondary (orange, green and purple) colors, the only color that is more uncommon than true blue is green. That is probably only because green flowers do not contrast much against green foliage, so would be harder to find. Many blue flowers, like thyme, lavender, blue potato bush and jacaranda, are closer to purple. Some blue and purple color is probably only incidental, and in conjunction with invisible (to humans) ultraviolet coloration or patterns.

Except for purplish blue jacaranda, there are no substantial trees to bloom blue. Empress tree is flashy, but is even more purplish. However, most ceanothus, including a few that can grow as small trees, are famous for their clear blue bloom. Plumbago, blue hibiscus, echium and rosemary are blue blooming shrubbery. Creeping rosemary is a nice groundcover. Hydrangea has the potential to bloom blue, but often turns purplish or pink because of soil alkalinity. Lilac and wisteria vine can be lavender, pink or white, as well as ice blue.

There are several perennial and annual salvias and lupines that bloom blue. Russian sage, catmint, carpet bugle, campanula, perennial statice and lily-of-the-Nile are some of the other familiar perennials for blue flowers. Delphinium should probably be more familiar. Grape hyacinth and various iris bloom briefly but spectacularly with some of the richest shades of blue. Even though there are not many blue flowers to choose from, there is quite a bit of variety.

Annual statice, aster, zinnia, bachelor button, nierembergia, nigella, pincushion flower, forget-me-not and cineraria are uncommon annuals that are enjoyed by those who crave blue. Petunia happens to be one of the most popular of warm season annuals that also happens to produce some excellent blues. Later, brightly colored pansy and primrose can be just as flashy as popular cool season annuals.

Summer Annuals Are Grateful For Deadheading

Blooming through summer is serious work.

So many of the pretty warm season annuals planted last spring are now at their best. Sweet alyssum, lobelia, verbena, moss rose and busy Lizzy never stop blooming, and only get more colorful as they grow through the season until they get replaced by cool season annuals in autumn. (It is unfortunate that busy Lizzy, which had been a standard warm season annual for so many years has become less available due to disease.) However, French marigold, petunia, floss flower, cosmos, statice, pincushion flower (scabbiosa) and zinnia need a bit of attention to perform as well that long.

These few warm season annuals can get tired of blooming if not ‘deadheaded’ (groomed of deteriorating flowers). Deadheading not only keeps plants looking a bit neater, but also prevents the diversion of resources needed for continued bloom into the generation of seed. As far as these blooming plants are concerned, seeding for the next generation is their priority anyway. As long as they are not allowed to set seed, they will continue to try, by producing more flowers to replace those that fade and get removed without setting seed.

Cosmos, statice and pincushion flower can continue to perform adequately without deadheading. The main advantage of deadheading these annuals is the removal of fading flowers. (There probably will not be much left for cosmos.) Many people actually prefer to leave fading cosmos flowers to disperse their seed for the following year.

Petunia is perhaps one of the more demanding of warm season annuals. It often needs to be clipped back in the middle of the season, right when it is expected to bloom the most. The best way to avoid serious pruning at one time it to keep plants snipped back lightly but continually as they grow, so that they can not develop the awkwardly long and weirdly jointed stems that eventually stop blooming. Short stems that stay close to the roots are the healthiest and most productive.

The various types of cockscomb are odd warm season annuals that become available halfway through summer, just in time to add color if some of the annuals planted earlier in spring are not performing adequately, or are finishing early. Of course, all of the other warm season annuals will still be available in nurseries until it is time for cool season annuals next autumn.

Petunia

Petunias are quintessential warm season annuals.

There are too many varieties of petunia to be familiar with nowadays. The species name is Petunia X hybrida because almost all are hybrids of two primary species, as well as a few others to complicate the situation. The color range of the bloom of these hybrids now lacks only a few colors. (GMO orange petunias are only beginning to become available.) 

Besides an impressively extensive color range, bloom can be spotted, speckled, striped, blotched, haloed or variegated by too many means to list. Flowers can be rather small or as wide as four inches. Some are surprisingly fragrant. Some have frilled double flowers. Stems of cascading types may sprawl wider than three feet while only a few inches high. 

Petunias are warm season annuals that perform from spring until frost. They can survive as perennials for a few years if cut low for winter. Cool season annuals can obscure and shelter them until they resume grown in spring. They prefer rich soil, systematic watering and sunny exposure. Although mostly sterile, some appreciate occasional deadheading. Trimming during summer may promote fluffier growth for lanky stems.

Deadhead To Promote Continued Bloom

Alyssum is too profuse for deadheading.

Deadheading is simply the removal of deteriorating bloom prior to the maturation of seed or fruiting structures. Besides diverting resources, it removes unappealingly deteriorated bloom, as well as unwanted or potentially invasive seed. Deadheading can be delayed if seed from particular flowers is desirable, (although some types are genetically variable).

It was time to deadhead spring bulbs as they finished bloom earlier last spring. Now it is time to deadhead some of the summer bulbs. It eliminates unsightly faded floral stalks of gladiolus, and diverts resources into developing bulbs. It eradicates invasive montbretia seed. For canna, it conserves resources to enhance subsequent bloom through summer. 

It is helpful to deadhead some types of annual bedding plants too. Marigold, zinnia, floss flower, pincushion flower and petunia should bloom better with systematic deadheading. Of course, all will continue to bloom without deadheading, but might be slightly subdued, with fading flowers. Modern sterile varieties that produce no viable seed are less reliant.

Fortunately, there is no need to deadhead alyssum, lobelia, nasturtium, moss rose, busy Lizzie or verbena. Their bloom is so abundant that it constantly overwhelms older bloom. Grooming tiny alyssum and lobelia flowers would otherwise be incredibly tedious. Moss rose, alyssum and nasturtium are pleased to self sow, but revert to simpler feral varieties. 

Some branched types of sunflowers produce several blooms on several separate stems. Others bloom with only a single flower on top of a tall single stem. If deadheaded prior to the maturation of their seed, the stalks of some single sunflowers generate a few smaller axillary flowers by autumn. This technique inhibits seed production, but prolongs bloom.

Daylily

These flashy blooms are remarkably easy.

As the name implies, each individual flower of daylily, Hemerocallis, lasts only about a day. They open just after dawn, and wither by dusk. However, bloom last from a week to a month because there are several flowers on several stalks. These flowers take turns blooming, so that a flower that blooms today will likely be replaced by a new flower tomorrow, until bloom finishes. Some daylilies bloom early in spring. Others wait until summer. A few bloom again, as late as early autumn.

Flowers can be almost any color except for blue or white, and typically have a a different color in the throat. The most popular varieties are bright yellow, pastel yellow, orange, pink or rusty red. Purple flowers are not quite as flashy as the color implies. Each flower has six petals, (which are actually three petals and three sepals). Bare stems hold the flowers about two feet high, well above the clumping grassy foliage. Some stay only a foot tall. A few get considerably taller. Plants should be groomed of finished flower stems, and may sometimes want to be groomed of deteriorating foliage. Daylilies known as ‘deciduous’ daylilies shed all foliage by autumn.

Six on Saturday: Plebian

Refined gardens are interesting. They are pretty also. Many are impressively colorful. It is easy to understand why refined gardens are as popular as they are. However, they innately lack quite a bit. Furthermore, they demand more attention that what would naturally grow wild. We are very fortunate here, that the refined components of our landscapes are rather minimal, and must conform to the unrefined components of the surrounding forests. We occasionally add a few new plants, including annuals. Much of what grows here now was once refined, but has gone wild. They are the plebian of horticulture.

1. Zinnia were just recently planted for summer. They are some of the most refined flowers now. There are not many annual bedding plants here, and none live in big beds. These are in a row.

2. Alyssum were planted as summer annuals sometime in the past. These were likely planted about a year ago, and survived through winter. They would likely be white if they grew from seed.

3. Alstroemeria are too aggressively perennial. They were planted intentionally, but overwhelmed the mixed perennial bed they were in. We tried to remove them, but a few continue to bloom.

4. Geranium, or zonal geranium, which is just a rather mundane Pelargonium, was plugged as cuttings and left to go wild. It happens to be one of my favorites because I have always grown it.

5. Calla must have been planted intentionally somewhere and sometime in the distant past, but was dug up and dumped with what became fill dirt here. It now blooms on the side of the road.

6. Poppy, or more specifically, California poppy, which is the Official State flower of California, grows wild, of course. They are some of the least refined flowers now, but also, among the best!

This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:

https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/six-on-saturday-a-participant-guide/