KAY MARTIN: Extend season by planting some cool season plants

When violas are blooming profusely, they make quite a show of color. (Courtesy photo)

When violas are blooming profusely, they make quite a show of color. (Courtesy photo)

It’s time! Let’s plant those cool season annuals now. I know many of us get tired of working in our gardens during the hot summer months, but the cooler weather should inspire us to get geared up again.

When we think about the fall season, we always think of mums. They do give us a great burst of color for a short period of time. But why not add some marigolds to your pots or landscape for a longer lasting pop of color this year?

We can’t forget our stand-by plants like pansies and violas, which reward us all winter. If you plant them in October, they have a chance to put down their roots and you will be rewarded with healthier plants and blooms. I personally prefer violas because they seem hardier in our part of the country. They hardly wilt at all when we have a hard freeze. Their blooms seem so small compared to pansies when you are planting them (it took a while to win me over from pansies to violas but the violas won). When violas are blooming profusely, they make quite a show of color. These can be planted in the landscape or in containers.

When planting your containers this fall, in addition to ornamental cabbage try some colorful lettuces, kale, collards, greens, etc. The sooner you plant these, the better. While rewarding you with texture and color, they can also be gathered for a special salad. Pansies or violas could be added to these containers for additional color. If you have space, plant kale, lettuces and chard in the landscape as well.

Other cool season annuals to plant include the snap-dragon and dianthus. When planting your annuals, be sure and add some slow-release fertilizer and mulch to keep your plants happy.

It gives gardeners great pleasure when we can extend the season by planting some cool season plants. The color, texture and blooms make the cool days ahead just a little more pleasant.

Kay Martin, a Master Gardener, is a trained volunteer of the Mississippi State University Extension Service. For gardening questions, call the Help Center at (662) 620-8280 in Lee County or (866) 920-4678 outside Lee County and leave a message.