Extend bloom throughout the fall

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As the heat of the summer starts to give way to cooler days and nights, it’s time to think about the fall garden. There are a number of plants that thrive in the fall.

Pansies are one of the most popular cool season annual flowering plants. There are many different flower colors, and they range in height from 4 to 8 inches. They bloom well into winter and next spring. As a bonus, the flowers are edible! Use pansy flowers to add some color and spice to your favorite salad.

Blooming season for asters, a perennial, is late summer into winter. You can recognize asters by their cheery yellow centers. They bloom when many summer flowers have lost their glory, so they make a welcomed addition to the perennial border. Asters range in color from yellow and purple to pink and red. Asters grow 3 to 4 feet tall. Most prefer full sun.

Chrysanthemums are the most recognized fall flower, and many come back year after year, if planted into the ground. They are available in multiple colors and grow 2- to 3-feet tall. There are also many different flower shapes.

There is a wide variety of ornamental cabbage and kales to include in your ornamental or vegetable garden. Their height and spread is 12 to 18 inches. Besides being colorful, they display different leaf shapes and forms. They are also edible. They overwinter and retain their color until spring. To see a selection of these, visit the Wilson Botanical Gardens Heritage Garden.

Swiss chard, maybe thought of as a food crop, is also very showy, with red, yellow, orange or white stalks that can provide contrast in any planting bed.

Spinach, my favorite vegetable, is an excellent late summer/fall crop. There are many different varieties with various leaf shapes. It is mostly grown for eating, but some varieties are very attractive as an ornamental plant.

Other vegetables in the cabbage family include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi, which are crops that love the cooler fall weather. They can be harvested well into the fall and winter.

To learn more about fall gardening join us at Garden Talks: Fall Into Gardening on Monday, Oct. 15, at 3 p.m. at the Wilson Agricultural Center, 1806 SW Goldsboro St. The Wilson Botanical Gardens is also hosting Halloween Treats on Sunday, Oct. 28 from 4 to 6 pm. Come out and enjoy the gardens!

For more information on gardening or events, contact the Wilson County Extension Master Gardeners at 252-237-0111.