Every year, many people either forget or don’t remember what their options are for winter color in their flower beds or containers. I just laugh when I hear someone say that they want to plant some petunias for the winter. I completely understand where they are coming from, because I would be the same way if I didn’t do this stuff for a living. I want to go over a list of what can be done in the fall to prepare for the winter. This list will not be completely exclusive, but will be pretty close.
By the time we get into September and October, depending of what part of the country you live in, your spring/summer flowers are looking pretty shabby and need to be replaced. Sometimes, they are looking awesome…but still need to be replaced. It always hurts my feelings when I am yanking out petunias and begonias that are just perfect in shape and color, just so I can replace them with tiny little pansies! But I know full well that in a couple of weeks, they would be dead and brown as soon as that first frost comes in, so I just keep working on yanking.
Bed preparation can be important if you haven’t done much in the past. That will be a whole other blog, but just know that if you have to “dig” to plant your flowers, then your ground needs much help.
The few flowers that will survive the winter are pansies, cabbage, and kale. Many people buy mums for Halloween and Thanksgiving color, but the color is usually gone in a couple of weeks. If they are planted in the ground, they usually will return the following year. Mums are my least favorite plant of all time (sorry for those of you who like them, this is my blog and I can say what I like and don’t . They are pretty for a couple of weeks though, I will give you that. Pansies are the most common winter installed flower. It will survive the winter, sometimes be blooming when it is snowing, and as soon as the weather gets to 40 degree nights in the spring, they pop up like roman candles and will start exploding in color. Cabbage and Kale are great for containers and accenting the pansies. I have never seen a bed exclusively cabbage and kale. They can get some pretty good height on them, so pay attention where you put them.
Winter flowers are fun to have around and I highly recommend having them. Setting up some hay bales with corn stalks, pumpkins and mums is really neat to look at for a month or two. Have fun, get creative, and enjoy your winter color.