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It's fall and the temperature is dropping.
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Weather Watch

On average the first fall frost happens in Northern Colorado on October 2nd. However, it has happened as early as September 15! Fall is definitely here and colder weather is on the way. You don't need to be concerned about your plants freezing until the nighttime temperature drops into the low 30s.  

When the freeze warning comes, I will send out an e-mail notice. At that time, you will want to remove and bring in the controller assembly of your drip irrigation system, drain your home irrigation system, and cover or bring in any plants you want to over-winter. I'll send out more information when the time comes.

If you are still planting in your yard, good for you! Fall is a great time to plant! I advise that you try to get everything planted by September 30th so the roots have time to establish before the ground freezes.

Fall Clean-up Service    

Although I believe we'll have a few more weeks of pleasant weather, I want to remind you that I offer a fall clean up service to clean out and protect your containers for the winter. When you are ready to have your containers cleared up, contact me or give me a call at (970) 988-3808 to schedule.

Get to Know These Plants

ImpatiensANNUAL:
Impatiens

Impatiens are my reliable go-to plant for the shady garden. They grow well in containers and in garden beds where the soil is kept moist. Impatiens are easy-care plants and do not require deadheading (removing spent blooms). New cultivars, named “Sunpatiens” are available which tolerate more sunshine.

The word "impatiens" is Latin and, somewhat obviously, it means "impatient." These plants were named for their explosive seed-pods which propel seeds in every direction when ripe. The seed pods look very much like flower buds although they turn slightly brown when ripe (circled in the picture). When touched by birds, insects or wind, they will explode. You may see the seeds around your container gardens; they are black and about the size of poppy seeds.

New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens hawkerii) are indeed native to New Guinea. This species often have darker colored leaves and bigger flowers. Only 25 plants were collected from New Guinea by the USDA in the early 1970’s and from those 25 plants we now have a multitude of colors and plants available at the garden centers.

Common names for Impatiens include Busy Lizzy (for the abundance of flowers), Touch-me-not (for the exploding seedpods) and Patient Lucy (perhaps for their shade tolerance). Whatever you want to call them, Impatiens are well loved garden and container plants for their ever-blooming, cheerful habit. Be aware, Impatiens are not tolerant of even the slightest frost in the fall although covering them with a frost fabric may help to protect them. 

Autumn JoyPERENNIAL:
Autumn Joy Stonecrop / Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Aptly named for its fall-flowering habit, Autumn Joy Stonecrop is a good alternative to fall-flowering Chrysanthemums. Autumn Joy Sedum requires little maintenance, is drought-tolerant and prefers full sun. As an added bonus, rabbits do not like Sedum. If its locations is too shady, the stems become weak and floppy. The florets are made up of many tiny individual flowers and can reach 6” wide. The florets start out white, turn pink and then a rust color as the season progresses. The stems and leaves are glossy and succulent and this late season plant has excellent cold tolerance. New cultivars have variegated foliage or darker colored flowers.
 
By the way, if you’ve planted fall Mums in the past hoping they would return the next season but they didn’t, it’s possibly because you planted them too late. As stated above, perennials needs to be in the ground by September 30th to ensure they have time to set their roots in before the ground freezes.

BluebeardFLOWERING SHRUB:
Bluebeard or Blue Mist Spirea / 
Caryopteris clandonensis 

The Bluebeard shrub has many desirable characteristics: it blooms late in the season when other plants are resting; it has a nice, mounded shape; is rarely bothered by pests; and it is very low maintenance. It prefers full sun, but will be OK with partial shade. It will tolerate drought but will flower best with some supplemental watering late in the season.  Bluebeard is also sometimes called “Blue Mist Spirea” but it is not related to other garden Spirea shrubs.  The flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators including bees but the shrub is not interesting to rabbits or deer. The only maintenance Bluebeard requires is to be cut back to just 4-6” stubs in late winter/early spring before the growing season begins. When treated this way year after year, Bluebeard will grow to be 3 to 4 feet tall and broad each season and reward you with a multitude of blooms each fall. Because they bloom at the same time, I like to combine Bluebeard with Autumn Joy Stonecrop in the garden. The photo below is from my back yard.
combo
Ever wonder where I get my information? Here's my resources:
  • Armitage, Allan M. Herbaceous Perennial Plants, Second Edition. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing LLC, 1997.
  • Crockett, James Underwood. Annuals. New York: Time-Life, 1971. Print.
  • Ellis, Barbara W. Taylor's Guide to Annuals. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.
  • Flint, Harrison L. Ortho's All about Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Des Moines, IA: Meredith, 2002. Print.
  • Gordon, DeWolf P., Jr. Ph.D., et al. Taylor's Guide to Perennials. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Print.
  • Hessayon, D. G. The New Bedding Plant Expert. London: Expert, 1996. Print.
  • Hughes, Megan McConnell, et al. Better Homes and Gardens® Flowering Trees & Shrubs. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
  • Peschke, Donald B., Publisher. 108 easy-going, easy-growing flowers!, a supplemental to Garden Gate magazine. Des Moines, Iowa: August Home Publishing Company. 2006.
  • Whiting, David, et al. "Pruning Flowering Shrubs, CMG GardenNotes #619." Colorado Master Gardener GardenNotes. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University Extension, 2011. Print & Online.
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