Darrell Blackwelder: Fall-blooming shrubs add a touch of color

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 22, 2022

Fall has arrived along with the cold weather we normally expect in October. Many trees and shrubs are in the process of shedding leaves which often turns a colorful landscape rather drab until spring blooms arrive. However, there are two shrubs that bloom profusely in October and into November. You may want to consider implementing these into your landscape for a touch of late fall color.

Certain cultivars of encore and other re-blooming type azaleas are beginning to bloom. This type of azalea typically blooms in the spring and again into the fall. Some nursery advertisements tout cultivars with 9 months of bloom, however, in our area most of these cultivars bloom three times, resting between blooms. Encore azaleas can tolerate full sun and seem to be more heat tolerant than older traditional spring blooming azaleas.  However, it is important to note that these shrubs need care in order to become established as azaleas can be rather particular about soil types and pests. Once established the plants will bloom consistently in spring and fall. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/rhododendron-encore/ for more detailed information.

Also in showy bloom are camellia sasanquas. A dual-purpose shrub, sasanqua type camellias not only provide beautiful fall color, but can be used as a dual-purpose shrub as a specimen or as a colorful hedge. Sasanquas are more tolerant of sun and cold temperatures than Camellia japonicas which normally bloom in the spring. These hardies also adapt well to espalier on walls and fences. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/camellia-sasanqua/

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.