Botanist's Lens: Fall Flavor, Mums, and More!


Mums and Ornamental Peppers


Shorter days and longer nights call for Mums (Chrysanthemum sps.) to go in bloom craziness instantly. But are mums true annuals or perennials? Should you stick them in the ground or leave then in the pots?



Yellow Mums


Over the years, plant breeders have come up with hundreds of shades of mums individually, as well as 2-3 color combinations in one single container. Chrysanthemums belonging to the Asteraceae family are perennials, but they are treated as annuals by breeders, who are mainly aiming for defined colors. The containers that are sold as annuals are developed to highlight the flower quantity and size as opposed to a healthy perennial with a well developed underground rhizome that will establish well and come back year after year.


But for us in zone 7, if you can find mums in early fall, you could still try to plant them in the ground and give it a shot. After you plant in the ground and the mums have bloomed to their glory, don't get tempted to cut them back right away. Wait till early spring or late winter to cut the dead out, look for the new growth emerging on the stems, that needs to be tended to carefully. Spacing mums is key, they need good air flow.



Cock's Comb (Celosia)


Filling up nursery shelves quickly are also bright Celosias (Cock's comb) and ornamental peppers. Celosia belonging to the Amaranth family comes in stunning bright pink flower heads. Easy to grow by seed, you can direct sow them in spring.



Ornamental Peppers (and Mums)


One of my fall favorites is 'Purple Flash' Ornamental Peppers. With leaves deep purple to almost black and peppers in shades of deep purple, lilac and even orange in one single plant, it makes for a stunning combination with any lighter color plants.


"Peppers were one of the earliest plants cultivated in the New World. Archeological evidence suggests that peppers were used as food ingredients in Peru more than 8,000 years ago. Columbus mistakenly applied the label ‘pepper’ to the plant he found growing in Caribbean gardens, likely confusing it with the highly prized but botanically unrelated black pepper." Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder

Brightly colored peppers


Mums, peppers, cock's comb... there are ample colors to choose from to enhance your fall garden flavors. But fall is also a great time to get hundreds of perennials in the ground. Next week, we will feature some select Azaleas we are getting in the ground at London Town.


Also, if you missed out or are still interested in getting more plants, we have a good select variety left over from plant sale. Stop by during visiting hours and choose from ground covers, shrubs, bright mums and other fall flavors.