October 23, 2015
By: David W. Marshall
Tibouchina’s blue flowers, backed by the yellow flowers of yellowbells or Tecoma stans, and flanked by the orange flowers of cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis), can bring you lots of enjoyment in the fall garden. Photo by David W. Marshall
Spring is an enjoyable time of year in north Florida. Temperatures are moderate and plants such as azaleas, loropetalums, and dogwoods are in bloom. Fall, too, can be just as enjoyable. Temperatures are moderating again and there are many plants that can give you landscape color this time of year.
Fall-blooming perennials include firebush, firespike, tibouchina, yellowbells, Philippine violet, butterfly ginger, angel’s trumpet, Mexican bush sage, ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia, cape honeysuckle, cigar flower, red orchid bush, Salvia guaranitica, and winter cassia. A little later in the fall the sasanqua camellias begin to bloom. The foliage of many deciduous trees, such as crape myrtle, dogwood, hickory, Florida maple, Japanese maple, red maple, Bradford pear, Chinese pistachio, American hornbeam, sweetgum, ginkgo, bald cypress, and black gum are also quite colorful in the fall.
If you want more fall color in your landscape, take action now. Do you need trees? Consider one of those from the list above. Plant now. Just be sure to water every third day or so for a while, as fall is often a dry time. Continue watering through the winter and into next spring. Just reduce the frequency as the plant becomes more established and the weather cools.
Plant some of the perennials for fall color, too. They will return to give you color each fall. Most will need full sun. However, Philippine violet (Barleria cristata) and butterfly ginger will tolerate a little shade okay. Firespike (Odontonema strictum), a hummingbird attractant, even needs a little shade. Firebush (Hamelia patens), a good butterfly and hummingbird plant, will give you flowers summer through fall, as will yellowbells (Tecoma stans), Salvia guaranitica, ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia, and angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia). Tibouchina adds a different touch to the garden with its blue flowers. Cigar flower draws the hummingbirds. And winter cassia (Senna bicapsularis) even flowers on into winter.
Add some cool season annuals to your flower plantings too. They only last from fall through spring, but the great show of color from annuals such as petunias, pansies, violas, Erysimum ‘Citrona Orange’ and ‘Citrona Yellow’, diascia, nemesia, verbena, dianthus, and snapdragons can give you much enjoyment. Plant in a sunny spot.
If you need shrubs, consider adding a few camellias. As mentioned earlier, the sasanqua types tend to flower earlier, from mid-fall through the end of the year. The japonica types tend to start blooming later and last until spring. Some of the sasanqua types are lower growing and can even be used in plantings in front of the house. Though most of the camellias will need to be planted at the corners of the house or in other locations where they can grow taller. Plant in full sun to moderate shade.
David W. Marshall is landscape consultant with Esposito Garden Center and author of Design & Care of Landscapes & Gardens in the South. David is also Extension Agent Emeritus and a volunteer writer for Leon County UF/IFAS Extension. For gardening questions, email us at Ask-A-Mastergardener@leoncountyfl.gov