The Good, Better, Best Approach to Fall Perennials
Late Summer and Fall perennial programs have been gaining in popularity with home consumers and growers over the past few years. I think of the perfect timing for these programs as back-to-school time. A change of seasons and a change of routines deserves a change of scenery.
With the kids back to school there is more time, not necessarily for gardening, but for decorating. Decorating with perennial color. Perennials can be the perfect complement to Fall mums and, in my opinion, offer a better value to customers due to the duration of color. It’s also a better value to growers since margins for perennials can be greater than that of mums.
In my previous blog I discussed several considerations for choosing the right perennials for Summer production. One more consideration is this: It has to be simple! Just coming off a busy Spring season and jumping into complicated Summer perennial production is not a very attractive proposition.
Fortunately, I have taken the fear and complication out of Summer perennials for you.
The easiest way to grow Summer perennials is outside. Yes, there is the lack of control with temperatures and the chances of monsoon-type rains washing all the nutrients out of the media, but I think the high light intensities make up for the risk with better quality and less or no need for PGRs.
To keep variety selection simple I have broken this down into a good, better and best program scenario – complete with variety selections and scheduling.
Good Summer PE Program
Coreopsis Uptick: The top of my no-brainer list. Five colors – including the new Red for 2022 (shown) to choose from. One pinched liner into a 2.5 quart container and you have a retail-ready crop in 6-7 weeks! Grown outdoors these will need no PGR. Indoors under lower light levels you can use a little B9 if needed.
Salvia Marvel: Second on my no-brainer list. The Rose (shown) absolutely glows at retail. Seven weeks in summer production and you have a no-brainer retail display!
Achillea New Vintage: Bold colors that fade to shades and not browns. Makes a great retail display with its tidy habit that doesn’t flop over. Only 6-7 weeks to flower and offers long lasting color for more “pretty time” on the bench.
Nepeta Prelude: Blue and the new Purple (shown). A unique type of nepeta that is a hit with the pollinators after only 7 weeks in production. A versatile nepeta that stays nicely compact (with a single pinch at transplant) in the container first year (a little PGR may be beneficial if grown indoors), but scales up to its full landscape potential the second year.
Phlox Ka-Pow: Tall phlox are one of the most recognizable perennials in the Fall landscape. And Phlox Ka-Pow reaches its full potential without overwintering! Highly mildew resistant and very well branched, this series was voted a Colorado State University top performer after 3 years in the trial gardens. This series of 5 colors is well matched for flower timing. One pinched liner finishes a 2.5 quart in 9 weeks. Or, how about trying 3 colors together in a larger container? Perfect for decoration!
With these five series, you can easily produce a colorful Fall perennial program that will beat mums to market and stand up to them when they arrive.
Stay tuned for how to build upon your good perennial program to make it better and the best.