You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Autumn gardens can burst with color
Fall is a great time in the garden.
It’s almost November, the best month to plant pansies, cyclamen, and primula. All these winter annuals do a great job providing color in the winter landscape, but they are also more sensitive than snapdragons and stocks to warm spells that often occur earlier in the fall.
Pansies are available in yellow, white, brown, blue, orange, and violet. There are a number of varieties of pansies. The Majestic Giants have large flowers (silver-dollar size) and a center blotch, which is often called a monkey-face. The clear-face selections usually have smaller flowers.
Plant pansies in full sun if possible, but they will perform pretty well in the morning or the afternoon sun.
Cyclamen are the most spectacular winter-blooming plant. The flowers are orchid-like in pure, deep shades of white, pink, red, and lavender. In addition to the flowers, the leaves are also decorative. They are heart-shaped, thick, and leathery, with etching on the edges.
The only problem with cyclamen is their price. Expect to pay $6/plant in November. They are worth it. Grow cyclamen in the shade.
Primula is another shade-loving flower. There are two selections that generally appear on the market. The showiest are low-growing (pansy-like), with crinkly Kelly green foliage. As decorative as the leaves are, the flowers are even showier. The blooms are red, blue, white, yellow, purple, orange, and pink. The colors of the flowers remind me of Crayola crayons or even clowns’ grease paint. Check them out.
The other primula that is sold for winter color is an upright plant that can grow up to 12 or 14 inches tall. The leaves are normally dull green and the flowers are pastel colors, usually pink, blue, or white.
Primulas are a favorite slug and snail food. Spread the bait at the same time you plant them or they will be devoured.
For the table
In the vegetable garden, November is a good month to plant spinach. This year, try the “Monster” transplants. It is an old variety with large leaves that supposedly is sweeter than hybrid spinach varieties and grows faster.
Be prepared to cover the tomatoes if a freeze is forecast. The new “plankets” work well for protection. Tomatoes are slow this year, because of the heat we had in September. Protection from the first cold spell will give them a few more weeks to mature.
And there’s more
November is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. The cool weather allows the newly planted items to develop a root system before the hot weather of summer challenges them.
If you haven’t planted your wildflowers, get them in the ground as quickly as possible. Most mixes and varieties require full sun to prosper. They must also be planted on a site where the seed can reach the soil. Planting in sod or brushy areas does not usually work. Do not cover the seed. Most gardeners rely on natural rainfall to water the seed.
Fertilize the lawn with “winterizer” fertilizer early in the month. The nutrients contribute to cold-weather tolerance and help with a fast green-up in the spring.
It is also a good time to divide spring-blooming perennials. Iris, daylilies, Shasta daisies, German carnations, and phlox are in that category.
Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the director of the Water Conservation and Technology Center at Texas A&M-San Antonio. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Balance classes start July 27 (July 22, 2015)
Be a high roller in Floresville (July 22, 2015)
Bobble-head Bozo (July 22, 2015)
Cool down with free snow cones (July 22, 2015)
Copper-pot craftsmanship — CINCO Vodka (July 22, 2015)
Marion Sausage Supper is Aug. 1 (July 22, 2015)
Mu Chi members attend state convention (July 22, 2015)
Opry lineup is sure to satisfy (July 22, 2015)
Save the date for Kody Fest Aug. 8 (July 22, 2015)
Shop ‘Trinkets and Treasures’ (July 22, 2015)
SSCA seeks donations for rummage sale (July 22, 2015)
Start two-stepping at FUMC (July 22, 2015)
Texas sales-tax holiday (July 22, 2015)
The Landing offers help for teens (July 22, 2015)
What a difference an ‘A’ makes! (July 22, 2015)
Browse, learn, shop at Home and Garden Show (July 15, 2015)
Celebrate Czech Day in Jourdanton (July 15, 2015)
Daughters of the Republic installs officers (July 15, 2015)
Enjoy St. Anthony church fest (July 15, 2015)
Experience ‘The Hobbit’ under the stars (July 15, 2015)
Free Movies at the Park in Poth (July 15, 2015)
Learn to compost with worms (July 15, 2015)
Legion Auxiliary plans garage sale (July 15, 2015)
Library happenings (July 15, 2015)
Mystery blanket sparks search (July 15, 2015)
Night In Old Fredericksburg is July 18 (July 15, 2015)
Plan now for Beaver Roundup (July 15, 2015)
Teddy bears, pottery (July 15, 2015)
The bridges of Wilson County (July 15, 2015)
‘Atomic tourists’ converge on Trinity Site ahead of 70th anniversary (July 15, 2015)
Behind the lens: Cover photo (July 8, 2015)
Bobby Flores Birthday Bash is July 11 (July 8, 2015)
Early settlers of Wilson County (July 8, 2015)
Enjoy ‘Big Hero 6’ at Movie Day (July 8, 2015)
Enjoy ‘Cool Tunes’ in Brenham (July 8, 2015)
Family violence shelter seeks volunteers (July 8, 2015)
Family weekend fun in Adkins (July 8, 2015)
FHS Reunion is July 25 (July 8, 2015)
Fishing lures (July 8, 2015)
Give blood at Sacred Heart Church (July 8, 2015)
Hamilton earns rank of captain (July 8, 2015)
Memorial hog hunt a hit! (July 8, 2015)
Save the date for Home and Garden Show (July 8, 2015)
See comedians in China Grove (July 8, 2015)
‘Alabama’ to invade K-Town (July 8, 2015)
‘Dying’ brings broadcaster back to life (July 8, 2015)
Bible study in Verdi (July 1, 2015)
Buses, pickup trucks, automobiles, and walking (July 1, 2015)
Davy Crockett, Depression glass (July 1, 2015)
Dog shows start July 8 (July 1, 2015)
Enjoy Fourth of July parade, concert in Seguin (July 1, 2015)
Enjoy Sunday Dances all month (July 1, 2015)
Free July 4 concerts in SA (July 1, 2015)
Free music, fireworks in Brenham (July 1, 2015)
Ice cream makers, tasters needed (July 1, 2015)
Jack's Cafe adds Sports Room and patio (July 1, 2015)
July is for grape stomping (July 1, 2015)
Look who's flying solo! (July 1, 2015)
Memories fly following balloon stories (July 1, 2015)
Register for state-wide Chili Cook-off (July 1, 2015)
Remembering my first haircut (July 1, 2015)
Savor: Summer drinks with calories and exercise equivalents (July 1, 2015)
South Texas Gardener reveals 'mystery plants' (July 1, 2015)
The Gathering Music Show (July 1, 2015)