Now is the time to plan your fall projects. Not only is this the time of year to plant tulips and other bulbs for spring flowering, it is also the best time to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Visit Floridata often, share us with a friend and be good and grow! Jack
Commonly known as wild thyme or mother of thyme (Thymus serpyllum)the subject of our newest plant profile is a small, evergreen sub-shrub that typically grows to heights of less than 10 inches. Wild thyme is as pleasantly aromatic as many of the thymes used in sachets, potpourris, and as culinary herbs, including common thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Read more about this interesting culinary and ornamental herb that is hardy in Zones 4-9. Here is a sampler of a few other kitchen herbs you can read about (and grow):
Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) is a desert species that prefers warmer climates (USDA Zone 7-9). This handsome evergreen perennial blooms in late summer and fall. Red, pink and white flowering varieties are available. Autumn sage is very drought tolerant, thrives in lean soils and is a favorite for butterfly gardens!
The forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) is a huge perennial plant with foot-long, bright yellow flower clusters that appear in late summer and early fall. This sage is hardy to Zone 7 and may reach heights up to 10 feet in frostfree climates. Here is a list of links to profiles of other sages (a common name for species in the genus Salvia) in cultivation:
The Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) is another fall blooming perennial that is commonly grown in Zone 8-10 gardens. It too is a large plant, growing up to 4 feet in height, and often surrounded by clouds of butterflies when in bloom!
Two summers ago I planted some moonflower (Ipomoea alba) seeds in a big tub on my Mom's condo balcony. By the end of August they had grown all over the awning, rail, etc. and each evening the vines were covered with huge fragrant moonflowers. They were beautiful but very thirsty - I often had to water them twice a day in hot weather to keep them from wilting. Now I know not to ever do that again but they sure were pretty! Here are some more fragrant late summer bloomers:
Raised bed gardens are a fun and efficient way to grow. Even in such a small space, it's possible to grow a surprising quantity of fresh vegetables - especially in autumn when milder temperatures set in. Last spring the bed hosted several types of lettuce (Lactuca sativa ) (in photo): 'Red Sails' leaf and Buttercrunch head lettuce were the family favorites. Here are links to more leafy greens that you might enjoy in your fall garden:
Use the Edible Plants filter on the Features drop down menu on Floridata's Master Plant List to see them all.
I love blue flowers and plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) has some of the bluest. Look for selections with flower color ranging from light baby blue to dark violet-blue. Click to download a large version (800x600) of sky blue plumbago picture. Here are some links to more blue (or kinda blue) flowers:
Steve lets a few cypress vines Ipomoea quamoclit) grow on his bean trellis just because they're pretty with finely cut feathery foliage and showy red blossoms. They always seem to be showiest at this time of year. Click to download a large version (800x600) of this particularly pretty cypress vine flower to display on your computer desktop. Read more...
The red morning glory, also know as red creeper (Ipomoea coccinea), is another relative of the familiar blue morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor). The scarlet creeper blooms in late summer, producing showy flowers that are very attractive to butterflies. Click to download a large version (800x600). Read more about Ipomoea :
The beautiful (and tasty!) garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are in bloom! The photo shows how this homeowner has planted a swath of garlic chives that burst into an expanse of delicate butterfly-attracting blossoms in late summer. The foliage is garlicky but the flowers have the fragrance of violets.
In Japan and China the flowers of garlic chive (Allium tuberosum) are dried to make a spice. Sautéing garlic chive leaves is a favorite way to season new woks. Of course they're also delicious chopped into bits and sprinkled upon a sour cream-topped back potato. The garlic chive is one of my favorite plants!
Indian shot (Canna indica) is a parent of many of the showy hybrid cannas (Canna x generalis) that we enjoy in our gardens every summer. Click here to read more about this large perennial that is grown (and naturalized in places) in USDA Zones 8-11. In colder Zones Indian shot is lifted in fall and overwintered indoors.
The podocarpus (Podocarpus macrophylla) shrubs are often loaded with colorful fruits at this time of year. A couple of people have written to say that these juicy fruits are edible. I don't know, they may be - but I'm not going to eat them and I haven't ever observed birds eating them so you probably shouldn't either - just to be safe. Click to download a large version (800x600) for a closer look.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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