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Alison Arnold: Fall Wildflower and Garden Perennial Color, Houseplants

The tall white Late-flowering Boneset

Jeremy Loeb: By the look of the trees and plants it’s obvious that summer is coming to an end and we are quickly moving into Fall color season.. what is it about this time of year? I cant put my finger on it..but it seems like such a bittersweet time…

Alison Arnold: I totally agree.. it’s hard for me to leave summer behind and yet I and I bet a few gardeners would also welcome a little cool weather. But yes it’s not really summer and not yet fall.. a definite time of transition.

I’ve noticed on the roadside a number of plants that are fading out and others that seem to be just coming into bloom late in the season.

Yes.. I’ve been really enjoying the last of the mountain mint, cardinal flowers, chickory and joe pye weed and watching the boneset, goldenrod and ironweed come on strong.

These can also be grown in the garden can’t they?

Absolutely in fact this a great time to evaluate fall color in the garden and make plans to plant more.... it helps complete the year around color in the garden that's possible here in the mountains. Fall Flowering Anemone, Asters, Perennial Chrysanthemums and Sedums are also great for the late season garden.

What about ornamental grasses?

Of course.. ornamental grasses like native switch grasses and pink muhly grass all fit perfectly into the late season fall color plant palette. Used in groups or individual specimens they are great for hot, full sun settings and are very drought tolerant once established.

These sound like a low maintenance group of plants.

They are .. although by late winter they begin to look rough and so definitely by March they can be cut back in time for the new growth to emerge later in the spring.

Is this a good time to divide perennials?

Yes it is. Although it’s been really dry…It can be good time for instance to divide spring flowering perennials and foliage plants like hostas -  while you can still see them and avoids disturbing them them in the spring when they are just coming out of the ground nice and fresh.

How do you know when it’s time to divide a perennial?

To know when to divide a plant look you will look for the center of the plant to die out and only new growth around the edge or it doesn’t flower as well as it use to. Also if a plant has gotten out of bounds or grown too large for it’s space any time is a good time to reign things in.

OK so once last quick question about those tropical houseplants that have been outside all summer  - is it time to bring them inside?

Yes.. typically when the night temperatures cool off towards 50 or below it’s time to bring the tropical plants inside. Be sure to inspect closely for insects. Getting a handle on insects such as scale, aphids and mealybugs before you bring the plants inside can be important since they can really get out of control and become problematic to the plant itself, infest other plants and generally be a real mess and headache to control and take care of later.

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