Fall-blooming shrubs add color to yards

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 25, 2013

SALISBURY — As the temperature gets cooler, homeowners have a natural tendency to go outdoors for fall cleanup. Most of the summer annuals and perennials are now gone, replaced by mums and pansies. However, there are a few fall blooming shrubs and perennials providing bright colors that home gardeners may want to consider that compliment the fall leaf color.
Blooming plants that provide extended color in the fall are gaining in popularity, adding another dimension in landscape design. There are quite a few perennials in full bloom at the Extension Master Gardener Pocket Gardens on Old Concord Road in Salisbury. Here are a few notable plants that you may consider for your home landscape:
Encore azaleas — Certain cultivars of Encore and other re-blooming type azaleas are now blooming. These azaleas typically bloom in the spring and again into the fall. Some nursery advertisements tout cultivars with nine months of bloom, however, in our area, most bloom three times a year, resting between blooms. These plants can tolerate full sun and seem to be more heat tolerant than the older, traditional spring blooming azaleas. It is important to note that these shrubs need care in order to become established. Once established, the plants will bloom consistently in spring and fall.
Sasanqua camellias — Many cultivars of camellia sasanquas are also in full bloom. A dual purpose shrub, sasanqua-type camellias not only provide beautiful fall color, but can be used as a specimen as a hedge planting. Sasanquas seem to be more tolerant of sun and cold temperatures than Camellia japonicas, which normally bloom in the spring. These hardy plants also adapt well to espalier on walls and fences.
Climbing aster — Climbing aster provides another dimension to landscapes as a climbing vine. Relatively new to landscapes, the aster is actually a native vine that adapts well to our climate. The ample flowers are the main attraction of this vine, especially at this time of year. Fragrance is also a bonus, attracting large numbers of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. These vines need to be planted in an area where the vines are exposed to full sun. Also note that it’s a deciduous vine, so it may not suit many locations. Be careful and consider its placement. Heavy pruning is a must to keep the vines from becoming too overgrown. These climbing aster vines have the ability to grow 20 feet tall. Pruning is best accomplished in late winter before new growth begins.
Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook, or online at www.rowanextension.com