Usually, the blues kick in around winter time. The end of Daylight Savings Time renders most of our waking hours to cubicles and offices at work and the weather is usually grey and wet. As a result, people are generally a lot more miserable and those who are susceptible to low mood and depression are much more likely to suffer. This is when we will see an increase in the number of people using things like cannabis to help combat their low mood, and those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in particular are even more likely to grab their grav glass bong for a smoke.
Why have I mentioned this? Because we need to be aware of those around us, particularly during winter time, and how they are feeling. However, I am not speaking of those blues for the rest of this post – I am speaking of the beautiful blues of fall!
As I walked around my landscape this past weekend I noticed that most everything currently blooming these days is some shade of blue.
Dwarf Mexican Petunia has produced color nonstop from spring to now, not to mention, throughout the severe drought we’ve experienced. Again, if you don’t have this ornamental perennial in your landscape, be sure to look for it in the nurseries come spring – and spring for a few. They are well worth it! (As a side note, I MIGHT have seed to share this year. I’ll keep my ears to the ground and see if I can scurry some up once they start popping. Contact me if you are interested in receiving some.)
As shown in the pic to the left above, I spied an immature Dwarf Mexican Petunia nestled among my Variegated Liriope which is also showing a bit of blue these days.
Variegated Liriope is a hardy perennial (or in my part of the country, an “evergreen” ground cover/filler/specimen plant) that is grown predominately for its leaves and clumping form. However, at certain times of the year it will surprise you with beautiful purplish-blue spires that are similar to those of salvias – see pic to the right above.
Speaking of spires, I must add that my Vitex is also still a’bloomin! As mentioned in my former post, Vitex is an amazingly hardy and beautiful specimen tree that has great recovery properties.
Then there is the gorgeous blue hue of the Morning Glory. As mentioned in my moonflower vine post, the Morning Glory is an annual vine but it germinates far easier than its nocturnal cousin. Since we’ve had a bit of rain and the temps are getting cooler, this vine greets me every morning with dozens of intense azure blooms.
A distant cousin of the above Morning Glory is yet another blue you may wish to display in your landscape. Blue Daze, or Evolvulus, can be found in a subshrub, evergreen (perennial Zones 8 – 11) form or in a low-growing ground-cover annual form. The picture to the right is of the annual type and I can attest from spring through fall it blooms non-stop. It enjoys full to mostly full sun and can tolerate drought and most soil conditions. And, as you can see, the annual form does especially well in hanging baskets.
Lastly, I want to focus on Plumbago – Dwarf Plumbago, specifically. Best if planted in Zones 5 – 9, this perennial plant is very low growing and can be used as a wonderful ground cover in sun to partly shady areas – as long as it isn’t planted in a consistently wet area. Dwarf Plumbago is the type of plant that may not look especially pretty in the 4-inch pots in the nurseries in the spring, but once it is established in your landscape, it is stunning. Another advantage of planting Dwarf Plumbago is that while it chokes out unwanted weeds and grass in your flower beds, it will still allow enough sunlight and space for flowering bulbs to emerge – so you can have a nice, full ground cover beneath the vibrant blooms of your spring bulbs and when the bulbs subside, you can look forward to the electric blue blooms of the Plumbago come summertime. And a really nice surprise to this semi-evergreen plant is that in the late fall, its stems and leaves will join the autumn trees by turning bronze and deep red.
In addition to serving as a ground cover (above and very top photo), Dwarf Plumbago is gorgeous when cascading in pots and hanging baskets. Since it is low-growing, I highly recommend adding a few other plants to your pots to add height and dimension to them. As I said above, Plumbago is a pretty good companion plant so adding additional plants to your containers can be done with ease.
While most websites suggest Dwarf Plumbago is fast spreading, I have not found this to be the case in my experience and I’ve planted it in both flower beds and containers. I’d say it spreads about average to slow, actually. If you have a large area to cover, I’d recommend evenly checkerboarding the area with plenty of seedlings to ensure coverage within the season if that is your goal. Another thing to note about Dwarf Plumbago is that it spreads through rhizomes – or underground stems. This means it may pop up outside of the areas you want it to! This isn’t a big deal, as for the third time I’ll remind you that although it may squeeze out weeds, Plumbago doesn’t seem to compete with other ornamentals. To remedy this however, gently pull or dig up the errant plant – and be sure the rhizome is attached or you’ll have another growing in the very same spot soon! (If you’ve had the pleasure of trying to eliminate Nut Grass from your yard, you know what I mean here.) A good thing about Dwarf Plumbago spreading through rhizomes is you can indeed transplant the errant sprouts quite easily. I simply add these sprouts to my containers as filler plants. Remember, there is always a place for a healthy transplant – even if it is in a friend, relative or neighbor’s yard!
So as I end this post, I sincerely hope you don’t actually have “the blues”. But I do hope you are enjoying a little blue in your landscape this fall!
Until next time,