Are you planning and planting this fall in anticipation of the lovely garden you’ll have next spring. Choose plants and cultivars carefully, or the effect you get may be dramatically different than what you expect! What do I mean? Read on…
For instance, have you ever noticed that some of your azaleas will be in full bloom, while the blossoms on others, maybe side by side, have not even begun to open? Or were you expecting a certain plant to blossom in the fall, and the blooms didn’t show themselves until spring. That’s due to a small but very important, not well known fact: there are early, middle and late blooming varieties of many flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials.
Helpful chart with approximate azalea blooms times: http://azaleas.org/index.pl/azbloom.html
This staggered bloom time is particularly prevalent in tree and shrub species that have many varieties and cultivars such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and crape myrtles. This feature applies broadly to the bulb family- crocus, daffodils, tulips and several others. Perennials such as day lilies are also in this category, and some specific plants do double duty blooming in both spring and fall. To add to the confusion, there are also spring and fall blooming camellias (C. Japonica and C. Sasanqua respectively).
For a great selection list for crape myrtles visit: http://tiny.cc/dlnrlw This site identifies when blooming typically begins, number of days in bloom, and other characteristics. FYI, crape myrtles are one of the few trees that like to be planted in the warm season.
If creating a specific effect matters to you, do a little homework. Plant tags may provide the needed information, or may not. It is hard to do that level of planning while you’re out shopping in the nursery. Deeper digging (pun intended!) will be helpful, and is nicely rewarded in the long run. The identification of early, middle or late blooming is valuable information when planning for succession of color and bloom to extend seasonal interest and beauty.
Note my great big caveat to all this information: I like to buy may flowering plants when they are in bloom to be sure they are not mis-tagged.
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