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Lawn and Garden

Mums and Asters - Best Bet for Fall Color

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09/01/2010 - Although everyone around Casper always comments on how short our growing season is, it still never fails to surprise me how fast it really goes by. I remember when I was younger the summer seemed to last much longer. Now it seems like it is never long enough, and forever getting shorter and shorter. I suppose that is because I make my living growing things, and so the summer is a very busy time for me.

About the time things start to slow down at the greenhouse hay season is well under way, so there is not much time for me to stop and enjoy the season. I can't complain, though, because I do love growing things. Around the greenhouse things are pretty quiet this time of year. The poinsettia crop for Christmas is about the only thing that is actively growing right now. We find that they keep us pretty busy.

In your garden and landscape I imagine that things are pretty quiet as well with most plants quieting down and waiting for the frost to put them to sleep for the winter. September does offer us some good opportunities in the yard, such as planting fall flowers, or bulbs. Right now is a great time to add some interesting plantings to your yard.

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Fall hardy mums and asters are plants that are readily available for planting, and they add some very nice clean color to your landscape. Unlike spring bulbs that bloom early and then become an eyesore in the garden, fall mums and asters are shapely green globes throughout the summer. Then in the fall they explode into bloom in a huge variety of colors. Fall mums can be every color from red to pink or orange to yellow, and every shade in between. Asters usually make up the rest of the color wheel ranging from purple to blue, or pink to white. With the huge array of colors available, and their neat habit in the yard the rest of the year, these plants are a low maintenance beautiful addition to any yard.

As an added bonus their main blooming season starts when most others are finishing up. This allows you to add some length to our extremely short growing season, and to have fresh color in your yard when most of the other yards on your block will be looking pretty subdued. The care on these plants consists of trimming back the brown stems to the ground in the spring and watering about once a week. An occasional fertilizing can't hurt either, but these plants are tough enough that they don't have to have it to thrive.

Considering the show they give in the fall and the small amount of care they require, you almost can't beat hardy mums and asters for fall color. However, I need to give you a warning -- not all mums that you will see in storefronts this fall are hardy for our area. Many of them will be fall gift mums. These mums look good as well, but they won't be making the return trip next spring. So, when you are out shopping for mums and asters, be sure that they are labeled as hardy garden mums and asters.

September is also a great time to start planning your bulb crops for next spring and once the ground is cool enough it will be time to get those planted as well. So although the fall is a pretty quiet time in the garden, there are still some exciting things that you can be planting that will add to your landscape for years to come.

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