Any way you look at it, it was an unusual growing season. Many of our landscape plants struggled to rebound after winter, so more summer annuals were planted to give color this year. For a time, we had summer rains, and the annuals thrived. Then, it got unbearably hot. Then, it got dry. And then, hotter and drier. Our summer annuals bit the dust, and our gardens now need a spot of color. It’s time for winter annuals to help save the day.
October is a great time to plant fall and winter annuals. While we will still have some warm days, the cooler nights and lower humidity can help the annuals take off. Pansies, in particular, can get leggy if planted too early, so October is prime planting time. But pansies aren’t the only option for long-lasting fall and winter seasonal color.
Regardless of what you are planting or when, fertilize annuals at planting, and follow up throughout the season. Cool-season annuals don’t have to be fertilized quite as often as warm-season plants, because daily watering isn’t necessary in the winter. Water will be critical until they are established and temperatures begin to drop. Make sure you also water before a hard freeze to ensure plants have ample moisture.
|Pansies||Wide range with clear or blotched varieties.||Antiques, Cool Wave,|
Delta, Majestic Giant, Matrix
|Widely available and relatively easy to cultivate.
Available in a variety of sizes. Dislike hot weather;
can withstand temperatures below freezing.
|Violas||Wide range of colors.||Admire, ColorMax, Gem,|
|Smaller blooms than pansies, but more tolerant of
temperature variability. Long-lasting.
|Panola||Wide range of colors.||Beaconsfield, Fire,|
Deep Blue Blotch
|A cross between a pansy and a viola. Smaller
blooms than a pansy, but larger than a viola.
|Dusty Miller||Silvery, white foliage.||Silver Lace, New Look,|
Silver Dust, White Diamond
|Cut leaf or solid leaf varieties. Plants will live both
summer and winter, but should be replanted
every two years for vigor. Light foliage highlights
other annual color.
|Dianthus||Shades of pink, red and|
|American Pie, Diana,|
Floral Lace, Fruit Punch,
Paint the Town
|Short-lived perennial, often used as an annual.
Blooms during cool weather, just green in the
|Snapdragon||Wide range of colors.||Candy Showers, Snapshot,|
|Florets resemble dragon’s snout. Available in a
variety of sizes. Types can grow from 6-15 inches
to 30-48 inches tall.
|Flowering Cabbage||Green base with shades|
of purple, pink or white
rosettes of foliage.
|Glamour, Nagoya, Osaka||Ornamental cabbage is bitter and not
recommended for eating. Forms more of a head
|Flowering Kale||Shades of red, white, pink|
|Glamour, Peacock, Red Bor, Yokohama||Foliage can be shiny, fringed, lacy, curled with
colors that intensify with lower temperatures.
|Ornamental Mustard||Greenish-red leaves when|
young, dark purple as it ages.
|Giant Red, Miz America||Tough, showy plants. Edible. May need protection
if temperatures drop below 25 degrees.
|Swiss Chard||Large, green leaves with|
bright, colorful stems.
|Bright Lights, Burgundy,|
Celebration, Northen Lights
|Very showy in winter garden. Can persist into