From the Extension: Fall is the best time to garden in Lake County
It’s hard to get excited about the garden during the dog days of summer, but since the intense heat and humidity are behind us, now is a great time to get those garden gloves out and freshen up your home landscapes with lots of fall veggies, flowering annuals and perennials.
You don’t have to look far to find a wide selection of plants because many local garden centers stock up for fall. The Lake County Master Gardener Fall Plant Sale is also a fun way to shop a wide assortment of plants at a great price. Plants offered include: flowering perennials, natives, butterfly attractors and shrubs. Join us from 8 a.m. to noon on Oct. 7 at Discovery Gardens, 1951 Woodlea Road in Tavares, and bring a cart. Only cash or checks will be accepted.
Another opportunity to find unusual plants is the Mount Dora Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 11-12 at Donnelly Park. According to the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, “Central Florida’s top growers bring more than 12,000 plants. The event features orchid growers and native plants, butterfly-attracting perennials, herbs, roses, camellias, and begonias with a complete selection of rare and unusual tropical plants.”
When you are out doing your fall shopping, be on the lookout for Florida-friendly plants. Some favorites for fall planting include: salvias, coleus, bulbine, wildflowers and fall veggies.
Through their long and upright blooms, salvias provide colors of red, blue, pink and white throughout the year. Salvia greggi is also called autumn sage because its peak bloom production is in the summer and fall. Look for Teresa, with its soft pink and white bi-color flowers.
Coleus is a perfect addition to the fall garden because it provides foliage colors of deep purple, orange, and red. Coleus supplies color for a long period of time since the color is provided through the leaves and not necessarily from the blooms. There are a myriad of other colors and color combinations available with this common annual. Most coleus prefer morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered shade throughout the day. This frost sensitive foliage plant will require protection from a frost or freeze.
Another consistent performer in Florida is African bulbine. With its succulent leaves and wispy flower spikes, it adds an unusual spiky look to the flower bed. The blooms display colors of bright yellow or a combination of yellow and orange. This flowering perennial is really tough and can withstand full sun and sandy soils. It can also survive most freeze events.
Add wildflowers for seasonal repeat blooms. The Arizona apricot blanket flower displays soft orange and yellow flowers, while Mesa Bright shows off a striking red center rimmed in golden yellow petals. Blanket flowers are perfect for a small annual planting bed or container garden. This annual blooms profusely and will reseed in soils that are not heavily mulched.
For vegetable gardens buy kale, radishes and other leafy greens. Tomatoes should already be planted, but if not, purchase large transplants for the best chance for tomato production before a late fall frost or freeze. Beans should be planted as soon as possible, but wait until November to plant peas.
Brooke Moffis is the residential horticulture agent of the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension office. Email email@example.com.