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Starting Your Fall Veggie Garden

As the summer gardening season comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to get your fall vegetable garden growing. Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, shares all his fall gardening tips to help you fill your table with plenty of nutritional, homegrown goodness long beyond the heat of summer.

Check out the video with Garden Guru, Mike Westphal, to learn more about fall vegetable gardening.

Purple Flash Pepper
Black Pear Pepper

Posh Peppers, Purple Flash and Black Pearl

When it comes to plants that are “growing” in popularity, ornamental peppers have become the hottest thing going. They provide massive color, texture and variety everywhere and anywhere - in flowerbeds, potted planters, hanging baskets, containers, and yes, in the vegetable garden too! They can handle heat and drought and are hardly bothered by pests at all. And if all of that wasn’t enough, many varieties are edible as well, although most not particularly tasteful (the fruit is either lacking in taste or too hot). Here are a few dazzling ornamental peppers for the garden:

Purple Flash Ornamental Pepper – this unique, exotic-looking plant features nearly black foliage splashed with bright purple and sometimes white. Subtle purple, star-shaped flowers appear in late spring until mid-summer followed by an abundance of deep purple berries with black overtones in mid-summer to early fall. Purple Flash’s compact habit, striking coloring and interesting texture enhance gardens and mixed containers through even the toughest conditions, including heat. The fruit, although edible, is extremely hot and not recommended for eating. Like all peppers, Purple Flash needs plenty of sun and warm temperatures for optimal growth.

Black Pearl Ornamental Pepper – this exquisite pepper plant has rich, deep purple leaves accented by clusters of shiny black fruit that mellow to deep red. In midseason, Black Pearl begins to display lilac-hued blossoms, which are followed by the fruit. Foliage appears greenish when young and matures to glossy black with high light and heat. Its vigorous and bushy growth habit make it an ideal choice for containers or planted in the landscape. Like Purple Flash, the fruit is edible but is extremely hot. This pepper loves the sun and warm temperatures.

Kelos® Fire Celosia
Kelos® Fire Celosia, Orange
Kelos® Fire Celosia, Yellow

Sun-sational Celosia, Featuring Kelos® Fire Celosia

The stunning colors and striking shapes of celosia flowers offer great versatility in the garden. This tender annual remains fearless in the heat of the summer sun and produces an abundance of blooms in dazzling red, yellow, cream, orange, rose, deep magenta, and pink. It will grow in most any type of soil - even heavy clay - as long as they are in full sun. Celosia is available in three different types plumes, crests, or spikes; simply described as plumes of jewel-colored feathers, wrinkly-looking knobs, or elongated cones. Use in borders along with other low maintenance annuals like zinnias, marigolds and gomphrena, or design and entire flowerbed with different varieties, staggering heights and creating a striking rainbow effect with different textures and forms. Their drought tolerance also makes them a good choice in containers.

Kelos® Fire Celosia - Robust, compact foliage combined with vibrant color! Electrifying plumes hold their color through the heat of summer and continue into fall. Great annual color for sunny beds and borders and in containers as a showy accent. Holds its color well during the heat of summer. Plant in full sun.

FUN FACT: The generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek word κήλεος (kḗleos), meaning "burning", and refers to the flame-like flower heads.

Delta Blues™ Vitex

Light Up Your Landscape with Delta Blues™ Vitex

Vitex (chaste tree) is a beautiful, small deciduous tree or large multi-trunked shrub. Often mistaken for butterfly bush, this beauty grows to about 15 to 20-feet tall and wide, with a sprawling growth habit. Gray-green foliage and large spikes of lavender to purple flowers appear during the blistering heat of summer/late summer and into early fall. Its foliage and blooms are irresistible to bees and also draws visits from butterflies and hummingbirds.

Vitex thrives in sunny, hot locations and in many types of soil, as long as the area doesn't retain too much excess moisture. Plant as a focal point in smaller landscapes or as a blooming screen for your patio. Plants are moderately salt tolerate, making them ideal for growing in coastal areas. Selective pruning can be done to maintain a smaller size, but its natural open growth habit requires that it has space to sprawl. Once established, plants are very low-maintenance and drought tolerant.

Delta Blues™ Vitex is the first intermediate vitex in the market. With an upright, bushy habit, this new variety is a vast improvement on previous selections. This stunning deciduous shrub is covered in sprays of dark purple-blue, fragrant flowers that bloom from summer/late summer into early fall. The foliage is dark green, fragrant and more refined than other selections. It is a superb addition to sunny borders, infusing a soft splash of color in the landscape. Delta Blues™ reaches approximately 8-10 feet tall and wide and prefers well-drained soil. Attract butterflies and other pollinators and is heat, drought, and salt tolerant and deer resistant.

Coneflower, Orange Skipper
Coneflower, SunSeeker Salmon

Coneflower Magic, Orange Skipper and SunSeekers Salmon

It’s that coneflower time of year, and while other plants may be taking a break from our summer heat, coneflowers (echinacea) are flourishing. If you are a coneflower lover (and even if you’re not), then you’ll love these colorful coneflower selections in sunset shades of orange and pink.

Orange Skipper (Butterfly Series) - a bright and sunny addition to any summer garden, this coneflower features showy flowers in a mixture of tangerine and bright-orange. Orange Skipper is a swift grower and can grow to full size in one growing season in the ground and even less time in a container. Long-blooming flowers are adored by butterflies, pollinators and songbirds. This coneflower provides a spectacular show in any sunny summer border, naturalized area, or container. Orange Skipper is a sun-loving perennial that is drought tolerant once established.

SunSeekers Salmon (SunSeekers Series) - features long-lasting, non-fading, semi-double flowers that emerge in a lovely shade of salmon pink with soft yellow petals in the center. As the blooms mature, salmon-pink petals become pale pink with large, dark crimson cones. Pollinators love the rich nectar in summer, while many birds (particularly goldfinches), flock to the plants to devour the seed in winter. Perfect in mixed perennial borders, naturalized areas, or in a container on patios and balconies. Plant full sun or part shade and in well-drained soil.

Did you know? Coneflowers (echinacea) are an attractive and multipurpose cousin of the daisy. The name echinacea comes from the Greek word ekhinos, meaning “hedgehog”, referring to the spiny cone that gives them their common name.