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Fall Blooming Perennials

The Martha Stewart Show, October 2009

When choosing fall perennials, begin by looking for color, texture, and garden performance. Heather Stephenson, head of product development at Beds and Borders, says that often, people look for instant gratification when selecting plants, instead of looking at labels that describe what the plant can and cannot withstand.

Or they buy perennials without considering the periods of time when they will not be in bloom. It is important to look ahead to future seasons, find variegated foliage and unique colorings, and consider how these plants will mature in their environment before selecting.

Fall Container Garden
Before planting a container garden, decide if you want it to be formal, dramatic, or simple in style, and then select the colors and textures of the plants you want to use. Container gardens often feature "thriller," "filler," and "spiller" plants: a "thriller" is a central plant that acts as the focal point and is generally something big and bold; "fillers" are usually mid-height foliage or flowering plants that do just that, fill; and the "spiller" is a trailing plant that will cascade out of the pot.

Container Garden How-To
1. First, select a container with a drainage hole. Partially cover the hole with pottery shard, and fill the container half way with potting soil.

2. Remove plants from nursery pots and loosen their roots; divide plant if desired.

3. Place plants in container, adding or taking away soil to prop them as needed. Position the plants the way you want them to grow.

4. Fill pot in with potting soil, firming it down around the roots. Water.

Fall Perennials Glossary
Carex Comans 'Brown Curls' (Brown Sedge)
Ornamental grasses, like the finely textured Brown Sedge, have become a garden staple, but they're great for spilling over the edges of containers, too.

Rudbekia Prarie Sun Hirta (Prairie Sun)
A great fill-in plant with an average height of 24 to 30 inches, the Rudbekia has brightly colored flowers that work beautifully in a container garden or cut and placed in an arrangement.

Viola Cornuta 'Sorbet Blueberries and Cream' (Johnny Jump-Up)
A profuse bloomer with many flat-faced, violet-like flowers, the Johnny Jump-Up blooms best in early spring and fall; its pale-blue and cream color intensifies in cooler temperatures.

Heuchera X. 'Dolce Creme Brulee' (Coral Bells)
This perennial features unique shades of bronze, salmon, and peach in its beautiful foliage. Requiring almost no maintenance, Coral Bells are drought-tolerant and will not need to be cut back during the season. This plant works best in shade or partially sunny conditions; if in full sun, its colors do not appear as vibrant.

Sedum X. Neon (Sedum)
A drought-tolerant plant, Sedum has vibrant pink, star-shaped flowers that stay in bloom for 4 to 6 weeks.

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