October’s Bounty: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day October 2017

– Posted in: What's up/blooming

What’s that plant?

Visitors asked about two plants at my Open Garden. The first one is readily available at garden centers or online.

Fire Light hydrangea

Fire Light® (Hydrangea paniculata ‘SMHPFL’) is a much more colorful version of ‘Pee Gee’ hydrangea. It’s hardy to Zone 3.

Hydrangea paniculata is the only type of hydrangea that can be shaped into a tree form. If you’ve seen hydrangeas that look like trees growing in yards in your neighborhood or town, then you know this more colorful version will do fine for you. The other plant visitors asked about is not as easily found.
Angelica gigas

Angelica gigas is a biennial. The first year it just grows leaves. The second year (third year, for me) it sends up an amazing umbel of deep purple flowers that are covered with pollinators.

Sometimes an online specialty nursery will offer it for sale, but I’ve always gotten mine as seedlings from friends or the nearest rock garden society sale. In theory, it will self-sow and produce more seedlings. In practice, this has never happened for me. Perhaps I don’t recognize the seedlings and weed them out. Or perhaps I really don’t have the right conditions. After all, I started with three seedlings, and only one made it to maturity. But I love its dramatic form and deep color, so whenever seedlings come my way, I try again. That’s the fun of gardening!

Plants that start blooming in autumn

We haven’t had a frost yet. I thought this might be a record for my garden, but looking over previous posts in October, I see we didn’t have a frost until this date in 2015–and yes, frost is expected tonight. As I mentioned last year, frost is not the end of the garden. Yet many of the open garden visitors expressed surprise at how much I did have blooming on the last day of September. They just don’t know my special plants and secret techiniques.

heterotheca villosa Ruth Baumgardener

False golden aster (Heterotheca villosa ‘Ruth Baumgardner’) doesn’t even start blooming until mid-September.

Aster tataricus Jindai

‘Jindai’ tatarian aster (Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’) is a “dwarf” form at 4 to 5 feet. I’m sure the regular giant plant would never bloom for me, because ‘Jindai’ barely manages to get started before we get frost.

And frost ruins the flowers. Too bad, as it’s winter-hardy to zone 4 (I’ve even seen zone 3). I love the lavender-blue flowers, and it’s a vigorous grower, but I only share this plant with gardeners in warmer climates.
Ruby Mound Chrysanthemum

‘Ruby Mound’ chrysanthemum started blooming in mid-September and is still growing strong. What an amazing color!

Honorine Jobert anemone

Japanese anemones also start blooming in fall. This beauty is ‘Honorine Jobert’.

Helleborus Pink Frost

Oh, look! My ‘Pink Frost’ hellebore (Helleborus x ballardiae ‘COSEH 710’) is blooming! It’s supposed to bloom from February to April, but I won’t tell if you don’t! I got this as an Easter plant at my grocery store.

I’m not surprised it’s blooming now, as it has “Christmas” rose (Helleborus niger) parentage, and my October/November would be late December in Great Britain (where H. niger got its common name).

Plants that bloom again in fall

The secret to having lots of flowers in fall is to deadhead in summer. I’m not a tidy gardener. And since neglecting to deadhead doesn’t kill a plant, if I’m short on time, I’d rather weed or plant a new acquisition. But I’ve learned that deadheading certain plants means more flowers in the fall.

Salvia transylvanica

Romanian sage (Salvia transylvanica) starts blooming in June and will bloom again in the fall if deadheaded.


Foxgloves are another plant that will send up new bloom stalks if deadheaded. Make sure you let them seed around before cutting them down.

Flower Carpet Pink Supreme

Flower Carpet roses look spectacular in July. They take a rest and then bloom again in the fall. This is Flower Carpet ‘Pink Supreme’.

I don’t deadhead these thoroughly and I’m pretty sure they would rebloom without deadheading. Maybe they would bloom even more if I cut off every dead flower.
Oso Happy Petit Pink rose

I’m pretty sure this little sweetheart never did stop blooming–and I didn’t deadhead her at all! Meet Oso Easy® Petit Pink (Rosa x ‘ZLEMarianneYoshida’)

Some daylilies will rebloom if you promptly cut out the spent scapes and there are also reblooming bearded irises. Do you know some rebloomers that I didn’t mention?

Annuals that keep on blooming

Let’s face it: a lot of so-called summer annuals don’t really look like much here until September.

White cosmos

Cosmos is one of those. Yes, we get blooms in August, but it doesn’t really come into its own until September.

Mingus Toni dahlia

‘Mingus Toni’ dahlia gets humongous. It’s one of the earliest blooming dahlias I’ve tried and once it gets going it doesn’t stop until frost blackens it.

Sweet alyssum, violas and pansies, golden feverfew, and flowering tobacco are other annuals that bloom in fall and even through the first frosts.

Fall foliage–it’s what defines the season

Every year I talk about colorful foliage in the garden, and you probably have your favorites, too–tell me about them in the comments. I just want to mention a few you might not have considered.

Knautia macedonica Thunder and Lightning

Knautia macedonica ‘Thunder and Lightning’ is no longer blooming, (hmm, maybe I should have been deadheading it?) but its foliage still looks very attractive.

Sugar Shack buttonbush and Lets Dance Rave

Buttonbush (top of photo) is known for its interesting flowers and seedheads. My Sugar Shack® (Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘SMCOSS’) which I got as a sample from Proven Winners hasn’t bloomed (yet), but I love the fall color. Let’s Dance® Rave® (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘SMNHMSIGMA’) is blooming below it.

Want more?

More great ideas for fall color from previous October posts:
Frost Is Not The End
Hello, Frost; Goodbye Plants
Frost Tolerant Flowers
Not Dead Yet
Freeze Aftermath

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Frank October 17, 2017, 7:28 pm

You really do have a nice late season show, and I’m sure overall it’s still carrying on despite your first freeze coming through last night.
Hope we can still enjoy a nice leisurely fall. No need to rush the snow!

Leslie October 17, 2017, 6:38 pm

So many blooms! It is just lovely.

Lisa at Greenbow October 17, 2017, 6:56 am

I love button bush. I have always wanted it in the garden but I wondered about my garden being too dry. Is yours in a moist place? Do you get the buttons? You have lots blooming this October. I hope the frost hasn’t put all to sleep by now.

Kathy Purdy October 20, 2017, 7:21 pm

It’s planted in a spot that’s usually moist–unless we don’t get rain for three weeks! It didn’t bloom this year. I don’t know if the shrub is too young (it was a sample plant) or if it’s not getting enough sun. No, the frost doesn’t put everything to sleep, just the tropical annuals and perennials.

Tim Calkins October 16, 2017, 7:26 pm

Your Sugar Shack buttonbush and Let’s Dance Hydrangea are a very nice combination!

Rosemarie Hanson October 16, 2017, 1:36 pm

Great post! Maybe I will dead head my salvia next year!

Kathy Purdy October 16, 2017, 2:19 pm

Did I give you the Salvia transylvanica, or are you talking about a different salvia?

commonweeder October 16, 2017, 11:43 am

Your garden never ceases to delight – and teach. Beautiful.

Kathy Purdy October 16, 2017, 11:47 am

Thank you, Pat!