Ask Burton: Q: I had a beautiful bed of summer and fall color… until it froze last week. I’d like to put some things in now that they’re gone, am I too late?

A: You are not too late to plant winter hardy color, but there are some things you should know now that the first hard freeze has come to visit North Texas.

All the cool season color grows much more rapidly in the warmer months of October and November – once December starts, day lengths shorten and warm temperatures generally go away. Freshly planted pansies, kale, and similar cool season color will still live, and even bloom, but their rate of growth slows substantially! Because all flowers grow markedly slower in cool weather, you’ll want to plant new beds of pansies closer together than normal to get a bed which shows a full appearance in a useful length of time. If you typically plant pansies on an 8- or 9-inch center, plant them closer to 6-inch centers when installed in December to present a bed with a good show of color.

For the best possible results, plan ahead next season to remove fall color, even if the plants still look good, before late October so that you can have time to get your cool season color well set in before temperatures drop. In the spring, rip your cool season color out by mid-April instead of trying to ride your cool season color into late May and changing them then. It will be easier to keep the beds properly watered until they catch, and make your summer watering tasks much more reasonable.

Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.