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It’s time for Cool-Season Color!

Posted on October, 09

It’s finally feeling like Fall here in North Texas and there’s no better time to start planting your cool-season bedding color. We’ve been stocking & growing lots of colorful plants and they’re ready for your landscape or garden! Here’s a list of things that we currently have, or are expected to arrive soon:

For Sunny Areas:
Pansies, Violas, and Panolas –Annuals; 6-8” tall x 6-8” wide
These are the best options for fall and winter color in North Texas because they thrive in cool weather and will bounce back after hard frosts to resume blooming. Pansies have relatively large faces and come in the widest range of colors. Violas, the predecessors to pansies, have smaller faces but a greater number of blooms per plant. Their other name, Johnny Jump-up, testifies to their ability to recover even more quickly than pansies from a hard frost. And panolas, a relatively new hybrid between pansies and violas, have the best of both worlds: bigger faces, more blooms, and excellent cold hardiness.

Ornamental Cabbage and Kale –Annual; 6-8” tall x 8-10” wide
While not as flavorful as their edible cousins, these are valuable for their ruffled and more colorful foliage that provides a great backdrop for smaller flowers in beds or as the focal point of a container. They are extremely cold tolerant, and the brilliant coloration of these plants will only intensify as temperatures drop.

Alyssum –Annual; 4-6” tall x 6-8” wide. Colors: Whites, pinks, purples; trailing element
Dianthus –Perennial; 8-10” tall x 8” wide. Colors: Whites, pinks, and reds
Snapdragon –Annual; 8-10” tall (or 18-22”tall) x 12” wide. Wide range of colors available
Chrysanthemum –Perennial; 10-20” tall x 12-24” wide. Wide range of colors available
Dusty Miller –Annual; 10-12” tall x 12” wide. Silver foliage
Ornamental Pepper –Annual; 8-18” tall x 6-12” wide. Green or purple foliage with assorted
colors of peppers often on the same plant
Ornamental Mustard –Annual; 12-24” tall x 16-20” wide. Green and purple foliage
Swiss Chard –Annual; 12-16” tall x 12” wide. Green foliage and multi-colored stems (Bright
Lights variety)
Rosemary –Perennial; 24-36” tall x 36-48” wide. Dusty green foliage with blue or purple blooms

Options for Shadier Locations
Cyclamen –Annual; 8” tall x 9” wide.
When caladiums or impatiens are spent, cyclamens are perfect as replacement color in shady flower beds. The flowers are unusually large and uniform, and they come in very crisp colors: white, pinks, reds, and purples. It is best to water these at the soil level to keep them looking their best.
Algerian Ivy –Evergreen; 6-8” tall x and up to 3′ in length (if contained)
Needlepoint Ivy –Evergreen; 6-9” tall and up to 3′ in length
Moneywort –Semi-evergreen; up to 3′ in length
Mondo –Evergreen; 8-16” tall x 8-12” wide
Dwarf Mondo –Evergreen; 4” tall X 4” wide
Crotons –Annual; slow-growing to 5′ tall x 3′ wide
Soft Caress Mahonia –Evergreen; 3′ tall x 3.5′ wide
Foxtail Fern –Tender Perennial; 2′ tall x 2′ wide

Bed Preparation and Care for Fall and Winter
In North Texas our clay soil needs to be amended in order for our plants not only to survive but to thrive. The small particle size of clay essentially suffocates plant roots, but by tilling compost and expanded shale into the flower bed at least 6-8 inches deep, the clay is broken up thereby aerating the soil and adding missing nutrients. This can easily be done with Covington’s Soil Builder, a premixed bag that also includes Texas green sand, or with separate bags of both Back to Earth compost and expanded shale.

It is also important to remember that pansies, violas, and panolas are “heavy feeders.” To encourage continuous blooms throughout the fall and winter, a high nitrogen fertilizer such as Covington’s Flower & Garden Fertilizer or Bone Meal (or Bone and Blood Meal) is preferable.
To protect your flowers from the coldest of weather, mulch the flower beds right after planting and water the beds thoroughly just before a cold spell in order to insulate the roots from any cold air that might slip through. Wash the frost off of the plants afterward, and once the soil thaws out, they will bounce back and resume flowering.