Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adding Color to Your Fall Landscape

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adding Color to Your Fall Landscape

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Brite Delvalle

Area landscapes were starting to recover from Hurricane Irma as a nor'easter rolled in last week, adding insult to injury. Damage from the storms varied depending on the plant, the location and the level of exposure to winds and flooding. Despite the weather, there are some plants that are adding some much needed fall color.

As the weather cools, especially the nights, flower colors will become more intense. There are many woody ornamentals, perennials and annuals that are contributing to our colorful landscapes.

Some of the more interesting woody plants with color are beautyberry, butterfly vine and senna. Beautyberry (Caliparpa americana) is a native plant that is loaded with striking purple or white berries in tight clusters along plant stems. Beautyberry grows well in fertile soil in full sun to partial shade, and serves as food for birds. It will reach eight feet in height but can be kept in bounds by pruning in late winter. Cuttings are beautiful in floral arrangements, especially if mixed with yellow or orange flowers. To make the berries stand out in arrangements, pinch off the leaves.

One vine that displays an assortment of colors is the yellow butterfly vine, Mascagnia macroptera. This vigorous evergreen vine will reach 10 to 12 feet tall and is easily trained to a trellis or can be grown as a mounding shrub or groundcover. Clusters of bright yellow orchidulike flowers measure 1 inch across and occur spring through fall. The plant is named for the green papery seed pods that resemble the shape of a butterfly. As they mature, these pods change from green to tan to brown.

Sennas are in bloom, and depending on the species, produce clusters of yellow flowers (Senna bicapsularis, Christmas senna) or yellow candlestick blooms (Senna alata). You may know these plants under the name of cassia but the genus name has been changed from Cassia to Senna. They are fastugrowing trees that attract sulfur butterflies and are a food source for sulfur caterpillars. The caterpillars are difficult to spot because they change colors based on their food source. If they are feeding on leaves caterpillars are green and when feeding on flowers they are yellow; this great camouflage helps protect them from predators.

Many perennials are also in bloom. Some have been in bloom all summer whereas others are triggered to bloom by the shorter days. A good example of a fall bloomer is Mexican sage (Salvia leucanthoe).

Mexican sage is a robust grower, spreading more in width each year and reaching five feet in height. Plants may die back with a winter freeze but reliably come back each spring. They may be dull background plants during the summer, but they are standouts now with their spikes of fuzzy purple flowers. …

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