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Helianthus salicifolius, perennial

Plant Picks: Annuals and Perennials for Fall

With fall just around the corner, now is a great time to add some blooms and color to your garden for the change of seasons. Keith Tomlinson and Caitlin Akkerhuis have put together their roundup of fall annuals and perennials that make excellent additions to gardens with a variety of conditions and needs – whether you are looking for bright blooms, natives, or plants for pollinators.

Mum, Annual ISTOCK

Chrysanthemums and Dendranthemums

Chrysanthemums, or mums, may be one of the most well known fall flowers, and for good reason. These vibrant plants come in every color imaginable, and bloom for about 4 weeks at a time. When selecting plants from the garden center, try picking ones with buds that are just opening to extend the time you have them in bloom.

Dendranthemums are the perennial version of the Chrysanthemum. You can plant these in the summer, and they will be ready to bloom in the fall.

Monkshood, Perennial

Monkshood

This plant prefers part sun, and will grow throughout the summer, producing vibrant purple flowers during the peak of our fall season. These plants are toxic, which makes them completely deer proof, however you will also want to keep this in mind for your own pets and family when planting.

Pennisetum, Perennial Ornamental Grass

Pennisetum

This family of ornamental grasses are in full bloom during the fall, and include favorites such as fountain grass and millet. These are great plants to add to your garden if you would like to attract birds, who will visit to eat the seeds.

Helianthus salicifolius, perennial

Helianthus salicifolius

This perennial sunflower will bloom in mid-fall. Like the other sunflowers, it features cheery yellow blooms.

Monarch Butterfly on Ascplepias

Asclepias tuberosa

This native is a must-have if you wish to support monarch butterflies. Also known as milkweed, or butterfly weed, it is the only host plant of monarch caterpillars. It will bloom through the fall.

New England Aster

This native aster will bloom well into fall, and is one of the taller varieties of aster. for shorter versions, plant New York Aster or Woods Aster.

Clematis paniculata

Also known as Sweet Autumn Clematis, this climbing plant will grow quickly, so you can easily end up with a plant that covers an area of 6 ft. or so.

Caryopteris

This flower will bloom from late summer through early fall. Mature plants will bloom for up to 8 weeks, making this a great choice if you are looking for long lasting blooms to attract bees and butterflies.

Butterfly Bush, shrub, ISTOCK

Blooming Shrubs for Summer

If you are looking to add some color to your landscape this season, there are plenty of shrubs to choose from that provide vibrant blooms and lush foliage even in the heat of summer. Our plant specialists have put together a list of the most popular shrubs for the season with some notes to help you pick which one is best for you.

Hydrangea macrophylla, Shrub

Hydrangeas

Possibly one of the most popular landscape shrubs, the most commonly recognized hydrangea, the bigleaf hydrangea, features large globular clusters of blue or pink blooms. However, there are many more varieties available, including hydrangeas with green or white blooms and native varieties! The Annabelle hydrangea features white blooms up to 12 inches across and is native to our region, while the oakleaf hydrangea has dark green, oak-like foliage and white or pink blossoms and fantastic mahogany-red fall color. 

In general, hydrangeas prefer part sun and moist, well-drained soil. If you have a spot with morning sun and afternoon shade with between 4 and 6 feet of space for them to grow, they should do well.

To learn more about climbing hydrangeas, panicle hydrangeas, and more, visit our blog post on hydrangeas.

Roses

A traditional favorite, roses come in countless varieties. You can check out our blog for detailed information on caring for roses, as well as a summary of common rose types. If you are looking for roses that will thrive with minimal care, consider some of these shrub roses, which are tough, hardy and more disease resistant than other roses.

Drift Rose, Shrub, ISTOCK

Drift Roses

These low-growing, dwarf roses can be grown as a groundcover, since they reach less than 2 ft. in height. They will bloom continuously throughout the season.

Knockout Rose, Shrub, ISTOCK

Knock-Out Roses

If you are looking for a larger variety of rose, the Knock-out rose can grow up to 8 ft. in height and width. It is ideal for use in borders and hedges, and blooms continuously throughout the season.

Buddleia, Butterfly Bush, Shrub

Butterfly Bush

Just as the name would suggest, this is a great shrub to plant if you would like to attract butterflies. They are a great compliment to the perennials and annuals of a butterfly garden, and come in just about every color. If you want a smaller shrub, be sure to purchase a dwarf variety. 

Spirea, Shrub, ISTOCK

Spirea

Like butterfly bush spirea will attract pollinators to your garden, and come in a variety of shades of pink and white. Depending on the variety, they will bloom in spring and summer and can be used in a variety of ways in the garden, including as hedges or in mass plantings.

Cherry Tree

Our Favorite Spring Blooming Trees and Shrubs

Spring is here and we are indulging our spring fever with a lineup of our favorite spring blooming trees! Between the tried-and-true traditional favorites and new arrivals, we all have a tree we want for ourselves this season!

Cherry

‘Autumnalis’: If you just can’t get enough of cherry blossoms, try ‘Autumnalis’ in your landscape. This cultivar is known for blooming prolifically in the spring, then again sporadically in the late fall.

Yoshino Cherry: If you are looking for the best-known cherry tree in the northern Virginia region, this is your variety. Each year it turns the Washington DC Tidal Basin into a cloud of white blooms in early spring. Placing one in your yard may not draw millions of visitors from around the world as the Cherry Blossom Festival does, but that may be for the best!

Weeping Higan: The arching branches of this weeping variety can drape all the way to the ground with blooms in early spring. This popular ornamental variety produces light pink flowers.

Magnolia

As one of our most popular and iconic trees of the southeastern United States, there are many varieties of magnolia to choose from in addition to the beloved southern magnolia. Here are some of our favorites:

Saucer Magnolia: Without a doubt the most dramatic member of the magnolia family, this tree blooms in early spring with vibrant pink flowers. ‘Jane’ ‘Betty’ and ‘Ann’ are some of our favorite cultivars.

Star Magnolia: This tree unveils its magnificent star-like white blooms in early spring. In comparison with the bold structure of other magnolia blooms, the flowers of star magnolias are prized for their delicate appearance.

Sweet Bay Magnolia: This popular native variety delivers a creamy, white flower with a light lemon fragrance in early June. It is able to tolerate the clay soil in the area and is also able to handle poorly draining soil, making it a good choice for difficult landscape areas.

Pieris Japonica

This dense evergreen shrub produces drooping clusters of bell-shaped white flowers in early spring. Its foliage emerges bronze but matures to a glossy green.

Redbud

Redbud is best known for its small clusters of magenta-pink flowers that bloom in late March to early April. While this tree is widely considered a harbinger of spring, it boasts beauty during the fall as well, when its heart-shaped leaves turn a light yellow. This tree comes in both upright and weeping varieties.

Here are some of our favorite cultivars:

  • ‘Don Egolf’ is a dwarf Chinese cultivar named after Dr. Donald Egolf from the National Arboretum.
  • ‘Appalachian Red’ has brighter blossoms than other redbuds. Their neon pink are almost red. We like to say they are two shades brighter than other redbuds!
  • ‘Oklahoma’ has a darker purple blossom and a more compact, rounded form than other redbuds.
  • ‘Ruby Falls’ is a popular weeping cultivar with purple foliage.

Serviceberry

This North American native is a great year-round plant. It blooms in early spring with clusters of white flowers, then in early summer its fruit ripens to a blue color and attracts local birds. In the fall, the leaves change to a vibrant red or yellow.

Virginia Fringe Tree

Another native, Virginia fringe tree produces blooms in late spring that look the way they sound – like white fringe! The airy, fragrant blooms give the tree a unique look, unlike any other plant we name in this post.

Orchid

Orchid Care for Beginners

Perhaps one of the most well-known houseplants, people love orchids for their elegant beauty and long-lasting blooms. These plants have a reputation as an intimidating plant for advanced gardeners only, but with a little extra knowledge, anyone can help their orchid thrive. If you are an orchid beginner, we recommend starting with the Phalaenopsis orchid. This is one of the best orchids to grow as a houseplant since it thrives at average household temperatures, and it does very well sitting on a windowsill. These plants can bloom 2 to 3 times per year after they are established.

Orchid, Greenhouse Plant

Light

Phalaenopsis orchids need about 3 to 4 hours of either morning or late afternoon light. An eastern facing window works best, but a shaded south or west facing window work as well. If you are having trouble getting your plant to rebloom, increase the amount of light it receives by removing shade, placing it closer to the window, or supplementing its light with a grow light placed 8 to 12 inches above its foliage. You will know your plant is receiving too much light if it’s leaves become red-tinged.

Orchid Potting Medium

Water

When purchasing your plant, determine whether your orchid is planted in moss or bark. Water your orchids only when they are nearly dry, but do not allow them to dry out. As a general rule of thumb, when the plant is in bark, water every 7 to 10 days. When it is in moss, water ever 10 to 14 days. To prevent rot, water your plants in the morning so that the leaves are dry by the evening. Orchids also love humidity, so you can place them on a humidity tray or a tray of gravel partially filled with water to create a more humid atmosphere around them.

Orchid Fertilizer

Fertilizer

If your plant is growing in a bark-based media, a high nitrogen fertilizer (30-10-10) is a good option. We recommend using a blossom booster fertilizer (10-30-20), which gives a better bud count when it comes to bloom time for orchids.

Orchid on Windowsill

Temperature

Place your orchid on a windowsill for a good temperature differential between day and night. This encourages rebloom. One of the primary reasons our customers are not able to get their orchids to bloom a second time is a lack of cooler air in the evenings. While this temperature difference is great for the plants when initiating blooms, once the buds form and the plant is ready to bloom, you should move it away from the window as temperature differentials can cause already formed buds to drop.

Orchid

Flowering and Repotting

After your Phalaenopsis orchid finished blooming, cut the stem back to the third node from the base of the stalk. A new flower spike should emerge in a few months. The moss and bark materials that orchids grow in break down over time, so you should repot your orchid every 2 to 3 years in the spring, or in the fall after it finishes blooming. You will know your orchid needs repotting when the medium breaks down and begins to look like dirt, or when the roots begin to show at the top of the pot.

Mandevilla, Tropical, Annual

Say Hello to Summer with Tropical Plants

Tropicals instantly evoke a sense of serenity with their ability to make us dream of white sand and blue water. This summer, create your own vacation hideaway at home by adding tropical plants to your outdoor living space. If you have a tropical plant already, now is the perfect time to take it outside for the season. Here are a few plants that you can enjoy both inside and out this season.

Boston Fern

Boston Fern

If you are looking for beautiful foliage, look no further than the Boston Fern. This popular fern’s trailing, flat fronds make it an excellent addition to any hanging basket. Native to the forest floors of the tropics, these plants thrive in cool places with high humidity and indirect light. The key to keeping your fern healthy is to keep it moist, mimicking its natural environment as closely as possible. Feed your fern a diluted amount of Jack’s All Purpose fertilizer during the summer, then provide it the standard dose of fertilizer when it goes back inside for the winter. When indoors, keep it away from wood stoves or fireplaces, which dry out the air and deprive your plant of the humidity it loves.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern

The Asparagus Fern is not actually a true fern, but a member of the lily family. Its trailing foliage is perfect for containers and hanging baskets. This fern’s needle-like fronds and produce white flowers and red berries when situated in ideal conditions. Just like the Boston Fern, keep this fern moist to keep it happy and place it far away from your fireplace or wood stove during the cool months! Feed it a diluted amount of all purpose fertilizer during the summer to help its foliage show better and then the recommended amount when your fern goes back inside for the winter.

Citrus Plants

Lemon Tree

Keep a slice of tropical paradise in your home with a potted citrus plant. Fragrant flowers and delicious fruit we all love make this plant is one that will delight all year. There are many varieties of citrus fruits, though the most popular ones are lemons (Meyer and Ponderosa varieties), limes, and oranges. Bring your citrus plant outside for the summer to provide your plant with more sun and to allow for pollination. The best month to transition your plant outdoors is May, and the best time to bring it back inside is toward the end of September. Let the plant slowly acclimate to the new light and the space when transitioning indoors and out. To encourage health and beauty in your plants, fertilize every 7-10 days with a citrus fertilizer like Jack’s Citrus Feed.

Medinillas

Medinilla

Native to the Philippines, medinilla has been prized as an exotic houseplant by European nobility for hundreds of years! This tropical features dramatic, drooping pink blooms that last about 3 months, and a grape-like cluster of lavender flowers which bloom for a shorter time. When caring for your medinilla, water it well all the way down to the bottom of the pot and then let it dry ¾ of the way before watering again. Check regularly to find out how long this takes. These plants enjoy at least 4 hours of sun each day, but dislikes direct light.

Mandevillas

Mandevilla

Mandevillas with their stunning pinwheel shaped flowers provide vibrant color year round. Native to the southwestern United States and Central America, they come in many wonderful colors as well as night illuminating whites. They are easy to care for, thriving in bright, indirect or filtered sunlight. Give your plant  a balanced, high phosphorus fertilizer (20-20-20 or Osmocote) once every two weeks in the summer to boost the blooms. It is a vine, so give it a trellis to climb up as it grows!

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