"HOW On Earth” – Published in Pink Magazine – September 2011


“The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many.”

–          Oliver Wendell Holmes

Fall Border with Marigolds, Crotons, and Salvias

September in the garden can look a little tired after our hot and humid summer. Many plants become leggy and cease to bloom in the excessive heat. We still have quite a long growing season ahead of us, yet it is too early to begin our fall seasonal plantings.

There is a wealth of fall blooming perennials that can be added to our gardens. Some of my favorites include Salvias, Rudbeckia, Firespike, and Cat Whiskers. Cassia is glorious with its vivid bright yellow blooms.

Mums are a great pick me up at the end of summer. Who can resist their cheery bright colors? Placed at the front door they just say “Hi, I’m happy, welcome home.” Mums typically bloom for about (1) month. When purchasing, look for tight blooms, just beginning to open. They generally will decline if rained on heavily. You can deadhead the blooms to keep the plant looking fresh. Mums are perennial and do wonderful planted in a sunny to part sunny site. They will repeat bloom for you several times if you continue to cut them back after each bloom.

I love the look of ornamental grasses in the garden. This is the time of year when they really shine with their plumes billowing in the wind. Everyone always asks what the pink blooming grasses are they see at this time of year. Muhly or Sweet grass is what dots our dunes and graces the landscape.

Many plants can benefit from being cut back this time of year which will result in new growth and re bloom. It is best to leave some leaf growth, so be careful not to cut back to just empty stems.  Leave at least six inches of the plant. I like to lightly fertilize again now with an organic slow release granular. These practices will result in giving our plants a fresh start.

Fall Colors of Coleus, Zinnias, Mums

The table below will help you decide what plants will be best to revive your tired garden.

PERENNIALS: These plants are great at adding punch to our gardens now. They also can be added permanently for re bloom year after year.

Common Name

Botanical Name

Habit Zone Deer


Acorus Ogon

Acorus gramineus

4”-8” 4-11 No Great filler with striped yellow and green foliage. Can handle wet areas.
Bush Daisy

Europsis pectinatus

2’-3’ 9-11 Yes Bushy, upright form that thrives in dry soils and attracts butterflies, covered in yellow daisies.

Cassia bicupsularis

12’ 8-11 No Very vibrant yellow late season blooms

Gaillardia grandiflora

1’- 2’ 7-10 Yes Attracts butterflies, good for cut flowers and drought tolerant. Will tolerate dune plantings.


2’- 6’ 8-10 Yes Hands down, super tough and very easy to grow provided you have full sun and excellent drainage. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, deer resistant, salt tolerant, and drought tolerant. Try some of the taller multi-colored varieties. Looks great tin the fall!
Firespike Odontonema cuspidatum

4-5’ 8-11 No Blooms late in the season which is why I like this tall vivid red beauty. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, good for cut flowers, and salt tolerant
Cat Whiskers

Orthosiphon stamineus

3’-4’ 9-11 No Great late season bloomer available in white or purple.
Purple Heart


15-18” 7-11 No Great purple leafed ground cover type plant. Also great in containers.
Black-Eyed Susan


6”- 30” 4-9 Yes ‘laciniata’ is tall variety (5’) that is a show stopper and can handle wet soils. ‘fulgida’ has smaller flowers than most but is a profuse bloomer and very easy to grow. ‘Indian Summer’ has some of the largest and showiest blooms. Attracts butterflies, drought tolerant, and good for cut flowers


12”- 36” 7-10 Yes Pest and disease free. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and drought tolerant. ‘Indigo Spires’, coccinea, elegans, guarantica, leucantha, vanhoutteii are all great varieties.  ‘Madrensis’ is a late blooming yellow variety that can handle some shade.

SEASONAL COLOR: Many of these plants are available in the spring and may have faded in our gardens. The growers often have these available again, all fresh and new. They will perform well until it turns cold, generally around Thanksgiving..

Common Name

Botanical Name

Habit Zone Deer




12”-30” 9-11 No Dragonwings are easy to grow and often times will come back in a mild winter.
Copper Plant

Acalpha wilkesiana

3’-10’ 10-11 Yes Multicolored and quite dependable.

Solenostemon scutellarioides

10”-15” 9-11 Yes Numerous foliage colors to choose


3’-6’ 10-11 No Very tough and great in pots. The quintessential fall color plant.
Dusty Miller

Senecio cineraria

10”-12” 8-11 Yes Silver accent.

Tagetes erecta

7”-10” 9-11 Yes Very dependable and bright.
Ornamental Pepper

Capsicum annuum

8”-18” 9-11 No Colorful peppers, attractive foliage, easy and very colorful.

Petunia x hybrida

6”-10” 7-10 No Wave and Bedding Series. Will survive our winter and re bloom heavy in the spring.
Persian Shield


4’-5’ 8-11 No Purple and iridescent, striking in the shade.

Tecoma stans

4’-8’ 7-11 Yes Orange Jubilee or Yellow Bells. Great late season bloom.

Zinnia angustifolia

15”-20” 9-11 No Profusion and Zahara series are best for a late summer addition.


Common Name

Botanical Name

Habit Zone Deer


Carex Evergold

Carex oshimensis

10”-12” 5-9 Yes Great for brightening up a shady area.
Maiden Grass

Miscanthus sinensis


or 6-8’

4-9 Yes Varieties such as ‘Adagio’, ‘Arabesque’, ‘Strictus’, ‘Yaku Jima’, ‘Gracilimus’ perform well here
Muhly Grass

Muhlenbergia capillaries

3’-4’ 6-9 Yes Blooms pink in the fall, very striking.
Fountain Grass

Pennisetum alopecuroides

3’-4’ 6-9 Yes Very graceful and dependable
Fountain Grass Variagated

Pennisetum setaceum

3-4’ 9-11 Yes Varieties such as ‘Fireworks’, ‘Rubrum’, and “Vertigo’ are quite showy. A new favorite of mine this year is ‘Princess Molly’