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Season-Extenders for Fall Landscapes

By Susan Martin for Proven Winners
Photos are courtesy of Proven Winners

Fall is an ideal time to work outdoors--conditions are ripe for planting and the crisp, clear air is invigorating. Plant a bounty of beauty this fall with season-extending annuals, perennials and shrubs from Proven Winners.

Annual Season-extenders

GRACEFUL GRASSES® Purple Fountain Grass (pictured), ‘Fireworks’ and ‘Sky Rocket’ Pennisetum setaceum

Purple fountain grass is an absolute classic for fall landscapes and containers. But did you know that it has two variegated siblings? ‘Fireworks’ is a pinky-red variegated sport with a fiery glow. It is a bit more restrained than the species and bears the same showy purple plumes. ‘Sky Rocket’ is a vigorous green and white variegated sport with light purple plumes. All three last long into fall, providing winter interest and food for birds until the heavy snow falls. 

Planting Partners: Cinnamon Curls™ Heuchera, Little Henry® Itea

SUNSATIA® Blood Orange (pictured), Coconut, Lemon and Cranberry Nemesia

Nemesias are classic annuals for fall plantings as they are exceptionally cold tolerant. Their warm toned, plentiful blooms make them ideal for fall-themed baskets, containers, and in-ground plantings. The star of the series is Sunsatia Blood Orange, a new introduction for Spring 2016. Its fiery red-orange blossoms appear right up until frost.

Planting Partners: Superbells® Calibrachoa, Graceful Grasses® Toffee Twist Carex

ANYTIME® Iris, Plum Good, Quartz, Sugarplum, Sunlight (pictured) and Dove Pansiolas Viola x wittrockiana

If it’s fall, you might be thinking about planting pansies for some fall color. Paired with fall mums and grasses, they liven up landscapes and containers right up through the first couple of frosts. Anytime Pansiolas are unique in that they were selected to be both cold and heat tolerant, so you can plant them right now even if the late summer heat hasn’t yet subsided in your region. Available in six eye-catching colors.

Planting Partners: Graceful Grasses® Red Riding Hood, Rock ‘n Grow Sedum

GRACEFUL GRASSES® Toffee Twist Carex flagellifera
You’ll often find Toffee Twist Carex included in combination containers for fall because its wispy, copper colored foliage is an ideal complement for rich reds, purples and golds. Its upright fountain-like habit provides an interesting textural contrast to mounding mums and fall bedding annuals. Used en masse or as a specimen, Toffee Twist will stand out wherever it is planted and will retain its visual interest right through winter.

Planting Partners: Anytime® Pansiolas, Dolce® Heuchera

SUPERBELLS® Spicy (pictured), Apricot Punch, Plum and 23 more colors Calibrachoa

Thanks to new varieties that can tolerate cold temperatures better, Superbells can now be included in both your spring and fall combination containers. Superbells are available in a staggering array of vibrant colors, many of which fit easily into the richer, earthy toned combinations that are popular in the cooler fall months. Their trailing habit makes them ideal candidates as spillers in hanging baskets and upright containers.

Planting Partners: Supertunia® Petunias, Laguna™ and Lucia® Lobelia

Perennial Season Extenders

DOLCE® Cinnamon Curls™ (pictured), Brazen Raisin™, Peach Melba and 4 more colors Heuchera

If you’re looking for a more high-end look for your window boxes, deck planters and landscapes, try a mix of fall-toned coral bells. They pair very well with ornamental grasses and have the added advantage of being perennial in zones 4-9. Dolce Heucheras are versatile plants for sun or shade that provide year-round interest with their evergreen to semi-evergreen foliage.

Planting Partners: Graceful Grasses® Toffee Twist, My Monet® ‘Sunset’

PRAIRIE WINDS® Perennial Grasses – ‘Cheyenne Sky’ and ‘Apache Rose’ Panicum, ‘Desert Plains’ (pictured) Pennisetum

If you are looking for perennial grasses that will grow and mature over many years to come, try our Prairie Winds series. This group of perennial grasses includes manageable 3-4’ tall varieties that bloom in late summer to early fall and develop attractive fall color. They all need full sun to thrive and are deer resistant. ‘Cheyenne Sky’ and ‘Apache Rose’ Panicum are super hardy in zones 4-9 but ‘Desert Plains’ Pennisetum prefers zones 5-9.

Planting Partners: Dolce® Heuchera, Panicle Hydrangeas

ROCK ‘N GROW™ ‘Lemonjade’, ‘Maestro’ (pictured) and ‘Pure Joy’ Sedum

Bees, butterflies and gardeners delight in the late summer and fall flowers of upright Sedums. They are a breeze to grow in full sun and aren’t too choosy about sandy or clay soils. This year, try something different than the standard ‘Autumn Joy’ types. All three of the Rock ‘n Grow Sedums offer something unique, from the citron yellow flowers of ‘Lemonjade’ to the purple foliage of ‘Maestro’ and the solid dome of blooms on ‘Pure Joy’. All are hardy in zones 3-9.

Planting Partners: Graceful Grasses® ‘Sky Rocket’, Anytime™ Pansiolas

Shrub Season Extenders


Viburnums are essential flowering shrubs for foundation plantings, living screens and the back of the border. Red Balloon is an exceptionally showy selection that produces a heavy crop of bright red berries in fall which are preceded by white flowers in spring. Its fruiting is enhanced by planting it near V. ‘Mohican’ or V. rhytidophylloides ‘Alleghany’. Red Balloon forms a well-branched, upright rounded, 6-8’ tall shrub with rugose green, deciduous foliage. It is hardy in zones 4-8.

Planting Partners: Fire Ball® Euonymus, Home Run® Rosa

FIRE LIGHT®, ‘Limelight’, PINKY WINKY® (pictured) and 6 more varieties of Hydrangea paniculata

Why are panicle hydrangeas so popular? Because they are one of the easiest kinds of hydrangeas to grow, bloom reliably every year, and aren’t fussy about soil pH. Dwarf cultivars are excellent in containers while larger specimens are showoffs in the landscape when used as focal points and hedges. Each cultivar offers something special, from the pomegranate pink flowers of Fire Light to the outstanding bloom power of ‘Limelight’ and the crowd favorite Pinky Winky which never disappoints with its huge, two-toned plumes. All are hardy in zones 3-8.

Planting Partners: Prairie Winds™ ‘Cheyenne Sky’, Lil’ Miss Sunshine™ Caryopteris

BERRY HEAVY® (pictured) and BERRY HEAVY® Gold Winterberry Ilex verticillata

Though they are attractive shrubs in the spring and summer landscape, it’s what happens in late fall and winter that really counts for Winterberries. Berry Heavy bears dense masses of extra large, shiny red berries that persist long after its leaves have fallen. Berry Heavy Gold is equally attractive with bright gold fruits. Winterberry will create visual impact wherever it is planted, but it is especially striking when planted en masse. The Berry Heavy series grows 6-8’ tall and is hardy in zones 3-9.

Planting Partners: Soft Serve® Chamaecyparis, Arctic Fire™ Cornus

To learn more about all of the plants mentioned here, go to

Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is a lifelong gardener and perennial specialist with 17 years of experience in the Horticulture Industry. She is a native of Michigan where she has been gardening since the age of four in both sandy and clay soils in zones 4-6. 

Patent Info: ‘Fireworks’ Pennisetum PP18504. ‘Sky Rocket’ Pennisetum PP21497. CINNAMON CURLS™ Heuchera PP25648 CPBRAF. LITTLE HENRY® Itea PP10988. SUNSATIA® Blood Orange Nemesia PPAF CPBRAF, Coconut PP23087 CPBR4347, Lemon PP23062 CPBR4345, Cranberry PP23061 CPBR4346. SUPERBELLS® Spicy Calibrachoa PP25402 CPBR4916, Apricot Punch PP19843 CPBR3634, Plum PP17679 CPBR2869. BRAZEN RAISIN™ Heuchera PPAF CPBRAF, Peach Melba PP17131 CPBR2865. MY MONET® ‘Sunset’ Weigela PP23212 CPBR4691. PRAIRIE WINDS™ ‘Cheyenne Sky’ Panicum PP23209, ‘Apache Rose’ Panicum PPAF CPBRAF, ‘Desert Plains’ Pennisetum PP20751. ROCK ‘N GROW™ ‘Lemonjade’ Sedum PPAF CPBRAF, ‘Maestro’ PP20094, ‘Pure Joy’ PP24194 CPBRAF. RED BALLOON™ Viburnum PP24227 CPBRAF. HOME RUN® Rosa PP18552. FIRE LIGHT® Hydrangea PP25135 CPBRAF, ‘Limelight’ PP12874 CPBR2319, PINKY WINKY® PP16166 CPBR2889. LIL’ MISS SUNSHINE™ Caryopteris PP22160. SOFT SERVE® Chamaecyparis PP20883. ARCTIC FIRE™ Cornus PP18523.



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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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