It is always surprising that the tiniest flowers seem to have the most nectar. These teeny Coleus blooms are a favorite of bees and hummingbirds.
The largest of these blooms are barely an inch long. Pictured is a white Russelia, Penta, and a purple and red Salvia.
The yellow flowers are Cassia Tree and Thryallis Shrub. The little orange button is Tassel Flower and on the right is a yellow and a red Butterfly Weed. These flowers are usually full of all kinds of bees and frequently visited by hummingbirds. The flowers may be small, but they can certainly produce.
It is always amazing how many plants (and weeds) germinate in cracks. Surely there is not much soil in there. Most of the young seedlings in these photos aren’t weeds, but the garden favorites of Bartram’s primrose, coleus, jewel of opar, mother of thousands and some herbs from a pot on the patio. Actually, it will work out well if the crack plants make it through the winter, they can just be transplanted into a bed. What is even more amazing is the plants that have grown to nearly full size in a crack. And to top that, no one bothered to pull them out!
The Arctic cold has made its way to the Gulf Coast making a record for cold temperatures early in the season. Luckily, as one plant is finished for the year, another begins to take over. The Peruvian Lilies are replacing the Coleus. As usual on the Gulf Coast, the weather will change soon and temperatures will rise to 80 degrees with thunderstorms by week’s end.
Japanese Anemones love the Automatic Garden and are a perfect residents as they are hardy through heat and cold and they like to spread, making many more plants. This plant was actually a passalong from a fellow gardener. Recently on blogs I follow, I have seen this plant (or similar) growing in Australia and Canada. In both parts of the world, this Anemone bloomed regularly in the Autumn just as it does on the Gulf Coast.
When growing Coleus, the advice is to pinch off the blooms. As it turns out, Coleus flowers attract bees and humming birds. Many of the seeds will also germinate for next summer. So let them grow out at the end of the season to reseed and feed.
Nature’s timing is perfect in providing Autumn blooming plants in this part of the world, giving sustenance for the migrating creatures to continue on their journeys.
Fall is an important time of year to ensure the Automatic Garden will continue in the spring. The following are some steps to take to keep the garden going.
Take cuttings of tender plants before the temperatures dip. These Coleus are from plants purchased several years ago. They need to go inside for winter and replanted in the spring. Once they start growing again, even more cuttings can be taken to fill the bed.
This Red Hibiscus is treated the same as coleus. Both plants need to be in a sunny window for winter.
Allow plants to reseed on their own. These Black Eyed Susans are from a plant started in the garden over 15 years ago. It will show up in different parts of the yard with help from birds and wind.
Wishbone or Torenia has been a wonderful reseeder. Its tiny seeds may come up in various locations and cracks, but easily transplants to desired locations.
It is always a good idea to collect some seeds to ensure the garden continues. Freezes, pests and animals can take their toll on seedlings.
Start plants for spring in pots, especially those that need some extra care. On the Gulf Coast spring begins as early as February.
Let seedlings start in beds. One of the perks of Automatic Gardening is never needing to dig up beds and turn soil. Plants are germinating and growing at all times. It is important to be able to tell seedling from weeds!
Many perennials begin to put out their new foliage as soon as the last flower turns to seed. The dead stems can be removed.
On the Gulf Coast, most flower seeds are planted during the fall. It is a great time to make plans for next spring.
Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius). This bright bloomer started right at the beginning of fall to the delight of the bees. As its name implies, it likes a moist area. It grows up to 6 feet tall and is a prolific reseeder.
This Pam’s Pink Turks Cap desperately needed a trimming, but thankfully it was too hot to do the job and now it is loaded with flowers and buds.
White Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes candida) pop up every year around this time and each year there are more of them. They are in the amaryllis family and can be separated and moved to new beds or shared with gardening friends. Wild ones grow around this area and they have a scent.
This Blue Salvia, the name has been lost, is always a reliable bloomer just when the butterflies and hummingbirds stop by on their journeys south.
This Red Salvia is just super, blooming in the spring and fall. It takes a break during summer.
Coleus Flowers are not very exciting, but the bees sure do like them. All of the Coleus were started by cuttings. It is just about time to start some for the winter. They do well in a sunny window and can be returned to the outdoors when the weather warms up.
Torenias (Torenia fournieri) has many names. Wishbone because of its stamens form a wishbone shape. It is also called Clown Flower, Summer pansy (we grow pansies in the winter here) and Bluewing. What ever you call it, it is a great little plant that takes partial shade and reseeds in the Automatic Garden.
Coleus usually will not make it through the winter on the Gulf Coast.
By rooting cuttings at the end of the season and bringing them inside for the winter, they will be ready to go at the first sign of warm weather.
In the Automatic Garden the Coleus are also left to go to seed in the fall and will emerge later in the summer.
Even more can be started by trimming back the bigger ones and rooting them in moist soil.