Keeping outdoor plants alive can be a problem for some of us in the Ozarks. Swings in the weather tend to make it tricky for more delicate plants to survive the changing seasons. Still, having a lawn or garden that’s dappled with color brings cheer to the darker months of fall and winter. If you’re guilty of past plantslaughter, you probably worry about turning your yard into a winter plateau of withered flowers. Feeling your pain, we asked Lynne Reynolds at Wheeler Gardens about what to plant and what steps you can take to keep your flowers bright and blooming through fall.
“Fall to winter, you have your evergreens,” says Reynolds, standing amidst pots of colorful arrangements. “They can be in containers, or you can plant them in the yard. We have the nandina that'll have nice fall color. Even through the winter they’ll have color because they retain their leaves. You get yellows, oranges and reds.” Reynolds recommends longer grasses like maidenhair and different shrubs to give variety and volume to arrangements. “Those will not be good for winter,” she warns.
For flowers, Reynolds recommends celosia and ornamental peppers to add bolder color and an exotic touch. Summer flowers can also be swapped out for fall flowers, while evergreen plants can be left in place.
Reynolds stresses year-round maintenance. Pruning before things start to bloom, especially in areas you want to cultivate later, helps annuals and perennials by giving them space to grow. Fertilizing during the growing season, depending on when that is for your plants, and protecting growing plants from the elements are vital, as is getting the right balance of how often you water them. According to Reynolds, those with less gardening experience tend to overwater.
Keep an eye on the weather, too. If you have anything in pots or containers, it’s best to bring them indoors overnight or when frost hits. Reynolds recommends a frost cloth to cover exposed plants. Remember not to leave it on too long; make sure your flowers get a dose of daylight. With the right care and some planning, you can create a little patch of summer that lasts all year long.