It’s hard to believe that it is Labor Day already. What happened to the summer? Better yet, what happened to your pots this summer?
With such extreme heat and drought this year, it was tough to keep anything alive; even the greenest thumbs were struggling. So now that the weather is beginning its transition into fall, your pots should be, too. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean tearing everything you kept alive all summer out of your containers. Many of your summer annuals can make the transition into the fall, leaving you to only fill in a few gaps here and there with fall flowers.
One of our favorite annuals to keep into the fall is the petunia. With the deep purple and black colors available, these are great trailers to any spooky Halloween container. Geraniums will also keep going for you into the cooler weather, and will even start to look better than they did in the heat this summer. Other summer annuals that you can keep in your pots through the fall are osteospermum (similar to a daisy), creeping Jenny or goldilocks, vinca vine, English ivy, waxed begonias, gomphrena, salvia, marigolds, fuchsia, dusty miller, snapdragons, and alyssum.
Unfortunately, all summer annuals are not equipped for the cooler temperatures. Sweet potato vine is a favorite among many gardeners, but when the cool nights return, it is one of the first to get hit with the cold. If you want to try to keep these more sensitive plants going, we recommend covering your containers with a lightweight dishcloth or bed sheet any time it falls below 45 or 50. This may work temporarily, but eventually it will become too cold for them. Other cold sensitive plants include basil, angelonia, impatiens, zinnias, caladiums and any tropicals like hibiscus.
Though they all don’t live year round here in the suburbs, one of the best parts about transitioning some of your summer annuals is seeing them get their second wind. When the weather starts to cool down, and we get some rain, you will see them start to bloom more and grow larger. We do, however, recommend giving them a little bit of help with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus, which is the middle number on the box (10-54-10). One specific brand we recommend is Miracle Gro Bloom Booster, which easily mixes in with your watering can to fertilize your pots.
So as the temperatures cool down, and your summer pots look out of place, switch out some of the plants with mums, kale, pansies and ornamental peppers. But don’t be afraid to keep some of your red, yellow and orange summer annuals around, too.