Although the temperatures are still high, the day length is getting shorter which prompts some flowers, like chrysanthemums, to bloom. Ideally though, we would like the chrysanthemums to bloom closer to Halloween rather than before Labor Day. If you have a chrysanthemum in the garden from last year you are likely finding small flowers already trying to bloom. To delay the flowering, remove the flower buds on the plants and after a few weeks you will have more leafy growth and finally some flowers later in fall.
Remove the flowers by pinching off the buds at a leaf point where the new growth will start again. Most chrysanthemums are best if they are pinched back around Memorial Day, July 4th and finally at Labor Day. Often though you need to pinch back before these holidays just to stop the flowers from starting to form and each time the plant gets a little bushier making for a splendid fall display.
Along with chrysanthemums, the fall asters start to bloom. Asters come in blues and pinks and range in height from about 24-inches to over three feet high. Look for them for sale in nurseries around the county and online and plant as soon as you get them. Planting in late August is still a risky idea but if you water the new aster plants well and often, they will bloom this year. They enjoy a mainly sunny location so under deciduous trees that shelter them from hot afternoon sun is a perfect place. Once established they will last for many years.
Other plants are starting to show fall colors too – one favorite fall shrub is the callicarpa which produced small white flowers a few weeks ago and is now full of attractive purple berries. The callicarpa is also known as Beauty Berry and the berries vary from iridescent purple to lilac. The berries make for wonderful fall decorations on your front door or entry arrangement along with some fall grasses that are also coming into their fall colors.
In the berry garden, the blueberry is famous for its bright red leaves making it valuable in the landscape for more than just the berries. Blueberries have attractive white spring flowers and edible summer berries making it a great 3-season plant for any garden.
Although the weather may not cool down for another month or so, you will see the signs of fall starting to show indicating that the change in seasons is just around the corner.