Top Ten October Blooming Plants

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Fall brings a fresh flush of flowers to the Fairegarden. On this October Bloom Day, the sharing of what is flowering around the fifteenth of each month that was invented by my friend Carol of May Dreams Gardens, it was decided that a top ten list of plants might be a way to present what was going on here. I actually detest that type of story, it seems a cheap attention grabbing device rather than good writing. But, that said, I find myself reading those types of things myself, so there you go. First up is Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus. A post containing more information can be read by clicking here. Note the little honeybee backside sticking up out of the far right flower. Pretty cute.

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Similar but different is Crocus speciosus. This fall blooming crocus is more blue than purple, and of course lacks the signature red saffron stigmas of C. sativus. Note the little spider hiding out on the lowest bloom. Also blooming but not shown is Sternbergia lutea, newly added last fall. It should have been planted with the crocus to better appreciate the yellow cup shaped flower. Maybe I will move it. A post was written about the fall bulbs which can be seen by clicking here if you so desire. They are a fun group.

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Okay, we are on to number two of the top ten, for those keeping score. Number one was fall blooming bulbs. I am not very good at this top ten thing. These are in no particular order, by the way. Where were we? Oh yes, the second top October blooming plant is the Cuphea ssp. family. There are several species growing well here this year, all are annuals. Cuphea ignea, the cigar plant seems to be the easiest and most floriferous. Pollinators too large to enter the trumpet shaped flowers puncture the bloom to get the nectar. This honeybee was very busy doing so while I was stalking him with the camera.

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Around the raised box bed, three types of Cuphea ssp. attract hummingbirds, bees and various other winged insects. It is a hive of activity. Cuphea ‘Purple Passion’ and Cuphea micropetala join the row of C. ignea that was raised from cuttings overwintered in the greenhouse/sunroom. Elsewhere are several Cuphea ‘Twinkle Pink’ plants that are covered in buzzing pollinators. Cuttings have been taken and are being grown on for next year as we speak, er write.

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Asters have been assigned the number three spot on our list. There are many of those growing here, including at least three different white flowered species that were originally pulled as weeds in the early pre-wildflower appreciation years of this garden. The thinking was that if I didn’t plant it, it must be undesirable. Such arrogance has now been tamped down, thank goodness. Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ was one of several blue asters purchased a few years ago. It stands upright, head and shoulders above the lax stems of most of the other asters. The large flower centers offer good dining opportunities for many pollinators, including these three bumbles.

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Number four is the mums. The name many have changed, like the asters, but they will always and forever be referred to here as mums, or sheffies, short for the pioneer Sheffield Hill Pink that was purchased at Mouse Creek Nursery thirteen years ago. A post about The Sheffies can be seen here.

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While the sheffies are of an apricot fading to light pink hue, there arose a seedling that in bud resembled the apricot of the sheffies but that opened to yellow. My friend Christopher of Outside Clyde named these the Yellies after both types were shared with him, and that is what we call them, as well.

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Subsequent offspring that usually show up in the gravel paths with the telltale mum foliage shape have included pure white…

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…and this more orangey yellie. There is but one plant of this darker colored mum and I moved it to a special location to keep an eye on it.

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It blends nicely with the Cupheas and blue asters. What shall it be called? Anyone?

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Next up on the list of bestest would have to be grasses. Movement, texture and verticality join the blooms to make fall the perfect time for grasses to shine. This is the flower/seedhead of a brand new this week addition, Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’. It looks like a false eyelash worthy of a rockstar, doesn’t it?

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Lest anyone be fooled by the closeup macro shot of the blue grama grammy winner namesake, here is the actual size of it. The previous photo is of the whitish blob just above the watermark. It will grow on in this container and might just stay there with another grass that hates my acid, clay soil, blue oat grass, Helictotrichon sempervirens. Also dwelling in this lime enriched pot are some baby Hordeum jubatum started from seed last winter. Grasses are quite easy to grow from seed and that is a good way to obtain the unobtainable ones. I have found that putting the little guys in cloistered environments helps them attain some size before being set loose in the jungle of a garden here.

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No October bloom day could be considered complete without some gratuitous pink muhly grass shots. It is seen here with some sheffies and a knockout rose. Roses could have been on the list of top plants but I think that is enough for now.

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Pink muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris and Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ line the driveway. The turning leaves of deciduous trees under the tall pine trees at the edge of the property make a fine backdrop in October for these top plantings. Aiming for ten but ending up with five is good enough, I believe. Fall bulbs, Cupheas, mums, asters and grasses are it, then. If you plant these you will have a gorgeous October garden. Plant lots of varieties of each and you will make the pollinators very happy, as well.


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22 Responses to Top Ten October Blooming Plants

  1. Layanee says:

    I hope to have the crocus for next year’s October Bloom Day. They really are a surprise in the fall aren’t they? Muhly is another must for next year and as I may have mentioned, I need some Blond Ambition. Great blooms for October. Love them all.

    Hi Layanee, thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your fall bulbs next October! Beware the placement, however, they are quite small and inconspicuous unless planted appropriately where they can be appreciated. Add some muhly and the blonde bombshell and you are in business.

  2. Lea says:

    Great close-up of the bee, too!
    Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day!

    Thanks, Lea. Happy GBBD to you!

  3. meander1 says:

    A picture of the magical muhly is always appreciated and never gratuitous! Thanks for the truth in advertising second shot of the ‘Blonde Ambition’ …the seedhead is enchanting and I think I’ll go googling to read a little more it’s eventual size. I adore your series of yellies…Mother nature does love FaireGarden and knows it is a worthy place to be generous with her children.

    Thanks, Michaele. There is something about this piece of land that we noticed before we even moved here ourselves. Stuff just wants to grow. It may be the slope and the lack of clean up after things bloom and the rainfall and climate and whatever else is going on here, but there is no denying the magic. I have great hopes for the blonde grass and love the name.

  4. gail says:

    My dear, My Pink Sheffie and and interesting orange/yellow that I bought last year are just about to open. They really are lovely flowers and the new one looks splendid with the fall foliage of iteas. Good advice about the crocus…they are tiny and apparently munchies for the chippers that reside in my garden. Those darn stinkers! Your photos are lovely…I can’t wait to see if the Muhly grass I plant this fall will be happy and glow pink next fall. Happy GBBD.xoxogail

    Hi Gail, thanks so much. May your mums and muhly give you great joy! Happy GBBD!

  5. So the Sheffies do set seed. I’ll have to be on the lookout for babies though I only have a gravel drive, not paths through the garden. Getting lots of creeping phlox in the drive and I am leaving them there.

    They do set seed, Christopher, that’s how we got the yellies. Now I think it is the yellies that are more likely to seed about, although not a lot. I do find mum seedlings grow from the compost that is spread, from the big cutdown that happen in late winter. Good thing the mum foliage is so easy to identify. Creeping phlox in the drive sounds divine.

  6. xericstyle says:

    Breathtaking…especially your pink muhly and aster combo!

    Thanks, Xericstyle. They do look nice together.

  7. Alison says:

    I hope your Blonde Ambition bulks up for you in its pot. I planted two rather scrawny looking specimens last fall, and this fall they are looking pretty good. My Sheffies haven’t started blooming yet. They are usually the very last flower to bloom here. I love the subtle shade of that orangey-yellie. I’ve never seen any seedlings here, but maybe I’ve been cutting the seedheads off too quickly.

    Thanks Alison. I hope Blonde Ambition grows here like it does in your perfect climate, most things do not. As for the mum babies, I don’t cut down until late winter, if at all. For as many places the sheffies were spread to, there are very few seedlings, but I am ever on the lookout and always am excited to see what color the bloom will be.

  8. Dee says:

    Loved your post and agree with you wholeheartedly. Wonderful mums, asters, cupheas, grasses, etc. Happy Bloom Day. Happy Fall!

    Hi Dee, thanks so much and happy fall and GBBD back to you!

  9. commonweeder says:

    You have given me a whole new view of cupheas. I am going to have to take another look when the catalogs come in. I remain jealous and in awe of your pink Muhly grass.

    Hi Pat, thanks for visiting. The Cupheas are so underutilized as fine annuals, it is criminal. They bloom nonstop in various colors all season long and the hummers and pollinators love them. Hear that, nursery industry? The pink muhly is having a fine year. I wish you could see it in person, my photos do not do it justice.

  10. pivi says:

    Marvelous bloomers you have ! Asters you mentioned are not familiar to me, I quess we here don’t have them. Beautiful ! Have a nice autumn !

    Hi Pivi, thanks for visiting. These asters are natives here. There may be similar colors and forms available where you garden. I hope so!

  11. Kris P says:

    Your pictures make me wonder why I haven’t found myself some autumn-flowering crocus. Everything looks wonderful in your garden. Happy GBBD!

    Hi Kris, thanks and happy GBBD to you! The fall blooming bulbs can be more difficult to find, nearly always by online sources. Brent and Becky’s is a good place to get them.

  12. My Kids Mom says:

    Are those this year’s crocus? I bought mine last fall, got leaves last fall, and nothing since. I haven’t seen any digging there so I’ll assume the corms are still around. I’m hoping yours aren’t up yet either and your photo is from a previous fall….

    These are from this fall, Jill, they are blooming right now. They are late and I thought they were gone, eaten or rotted from all of the rain we had earlier. Then a couple of days ago, there they were. Don’t give up hope just yet.

  13. I never do get tired of that perfect Pinkness! I had to laugh at the real gramma grass, as I have been guilty of the same. Macro shots can really food the eye.

    Hi Robin, thanks for getting the joke about the macro shots. Those can make anything look like a million, even when the real view is far from lovely. But I do hope the grama becomes legendary over time.

  14. Sonnja says:

    You have make beautiful photos of your garden!
    Greetings, RW & SK

    Thanks and greetings to you, Sonnja!

  15. Rose says:

    Great choices, Frances! I have only two of the five, so now I know what is needed to perk up my October garden. I’ve always loved your Sheffies, but keep forgetting to check out sources for adding them to my garden. Yellies, pinkies, or orangeys–they’re all so pretty! Of course, if I had a vote in this “best of” list, the Pink Muhly would be number one without a doubt!

    Hi Rose, thanks for stopping by. These are merely suggestions, but if you have them growing in your garden, you should be good for fall. You need some pink muhly!

  16. Hannah says:

    I’m in love with that Pink Muhly grass, and got some seeds to try it next year. Yours are so beautiful! Especially with the blue asters. I was not aware of the existence of hardy mums, they are intriguing, I’ll have to look for some.

    Hi Hannah, thanks for visiting. Good luck with the pink muhly, may it do well for you. The hardy mums are also called Korean mums. Sheffield Hill Pink, or sometimes just Sheffield Pink is the best around my garden.

  17. The sheffies you gave me a different time via postal mail have set bud and are getting ready to bloom. I think they are slower for me than for you.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for the report ofn the sheffies. Are they in full sun? Mine in the sunniest spots always bloom ahead of the shadier ones. But they can take severals frosts and still be fine.

  18. bittster says:

    hah ha, I love your top ten! The closeup of the blue gramma also got a chuckle out of me.
    So much color, it’s nice to see, and thanks for the links to the saffron and fall bulb posts, I enjoyed them too.

    Thanks, Bittster. You might be the only one who got the little joke. I appreciate your going back to read the older posts. They might be old, but they are still good!

  19. I always admire your grasses.

    Hi Esther, thanks for stopping by. The grasses thank you, too.

  20. True – one was rather expecting a boring list. Trust Frances to turn listing into art and entertainment 😉

    Hi Jack, thanks so much for those kind words, as always.

  21. cheryl says:

    ahhhhh I have me fix of cotton candy. It’s so beautiful Frances, clouds of pink in the garden. Thank you !

    Hi Cheryl, thanks for visting. The pink muhly is having an especially good year in 2013.

  22. sandy lawrence says:

    I rather like your name for them – orangey yellies. If that’s too much of a mouthful, how about just orange yellies? They’re all lovely.

    I kind of like the rhythm of orangey yellies, Sandy, thanks!

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