BOISE, Idaho — Fall has finally arrived in Idaho, and soon we’ll be seeing cooler days and frosty nights on a regular basis.
And while we’re already starting to see some fall colors showing up around us, your home landscape might start to look a little drab now that the growing season is coming to an end.
As the days grow shorter, the trees know that colder weather is on the way. Leaves stop producing chlorophyll, the chemical that helps convert water into the sugars that nourish the trees.
All of the other colors that were hidden by the green chlorophyll start to emerge – reds, yellows, oranges, golds and browns, providing, at least for a few weeks, an explosion of nature’s brilliant artwork.
You can keep a lot of nice color in your yard through the fall with some hardy plants, like mums, dahlias, and even flowering kale.
Mums are a great fall plant because there’s such a variety of bright colors you can choose from that will dress up your yard and garden as the summer foliage and blossoms start to fade away.
Mums, short for chrysanthemums, love the cooler weather and will continue to bloom even through the first light frosts of fall. They’re inexpensive, and since they’re perennials, if the winter weather isn’t too severe, they’ll bloom again next year.
They’re especially attractive when grouped in an assortment of colors, either in the ground or in containers, along with some other fall plants, like flowering kale and cabbage, and a few pansies.
All of these plants will do well until the first real hard freezes force them into dormancy.
Kale and flowering cabbage not only add a touch of color, but offer a different texture, as well, from the typical stems, leaves and blossoms of most flowering plants. Add some decorative grasses and you’ve got a container display that can’t be beat.
Dahlias resemble their cousins, the mums, but are a bit larger and showier. They’re a little more tender than the mums, so once the really cold weather hits, it’s time to lift the tubers and store them through the winter for replanting in the spring.
And speaking of spring, now is a great time to plant flowering bulbs.
"I’m pulling a lot of my annuals right now, putting in my bulbs and then planting my mums and my cabbages and kale on top with my pansies," said Erin Monnie with Edwards Greenhouse. "And those will usually make it through the winter, and then after that in early spring, the tulips come up, my pansies and violas come back, and we’re right back into spring again.”
That will also protect your bulbs from being dug up by hungry squirrels.
Planting now will provide you with fall colors, while also allowing to get a jump on spring flowers at the same time.
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