Ask the Expert

Wisconsin State Farmer
Chrysanthemums are a familiar sight in the fall months, providing boosts of color in gardens.

Q: Many garden centers have mums for sale in my area. Isn't it too early?

A: That all depends on the gardener. Many gardeners like a quick burst of color in late summer, so these early mums are perfect for that purpose. With proper care and deadheading, these mums should continue to bloom fine into fall. Just like many retail outlets begin selling Halloween candy in August, plant marketers do the same with fall blooming mums and other plants. Be aware of that, just like the candy, the plants may not last through Halloween.

Q: My bearded iris are reblooming. Is this normal?

A: Fairly normal, depending upon the season. There are many varieties of irises marketed as reblooming varieties. However, if conditions are right, just about any bearded iris will re-bloom in fall. No special care or maintenance is needed. Simply clean up the plants as normal ones bloom time has ceased.

Q: Should I cut back my ornamental grasses in fall?

A: This is a personal choice. I prefer to leave these beautiful grasses standing throughout winter when the feathery plumes provide winter interest and beauty, especially when tufted with snow. 

Q: Are there any plants that bloom in the shade in fall?

A: Yes, many. A number of coral bells continue to bloom well into fall. Many hosta varieties are also late bloomers. Monkshood is an outstanding fall blooming perennial, with tall spikes of beautiful blue flowers. Hardy hibiscus, or rose mallow, joe-pye weed, cardinal flower and blue lobelia are other fall blooming shade lovers.