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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Fall wildflowers create interest


University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Pollard recently wrote a news release on fall wildflowers. I've highlighted my favorites below. The entire release is found here http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/newsdetail.cfm?NewsID=29630.

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.)thrives in sun to part sun and is a deer-resistant perennial.Pollard described the flowers as "stunning" when paired with blue and purple New England asters. Many species are available. Great performers include:
  • Solidago flexicaulis 'Variegata': with variegated foliage it brightens semi-shaded wooded areas. This goldenrod is over 4 feet tall and has a spreading nature. It blooms from early September to mid-October.
  • Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' has graceful fine textured foliage with arching branches. The stems of the golden blooms arch in many directions like fireworks. It grows three to 4 feet tall. It tolerates wet soil and grows slowly by underground rhizomes but generally doesn't get out of hand. It blooms mid-September to late October.
  • Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece,' which has pyramidal densely flowering stems that form a compact groundcover, grows to 18 to 36 inches depending on site conditions.It is drought tolerant and is also good for fall container gardens. September flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

Asters (now in the genus Symphyotrichum but widely sold as Aster) do well in sunny sites with good air circulation or their foliage might suffer from mildew."Pinch back the taller varieties until June as you would chrysanthemums.Most will tolerate sandy, clay, poor soils and some drought. There are mixed reviews whether these are deer resistant or not, leaning toward not. It depends on many factors," Pollard said.

Joe Pye(Eutrochium, formerly Eupatorium) is a great plant not favored by deer.The showy 'Gateway' has burgundy stems 4 to 6 feet tall, topped by dusky rose nosegays that are 1 foot across. "Cut back the tips in June to create a bushier plant. It is a magnet for butterflies and birds in the fall," she added.Joe Pye prefers full sun and likes average to abundant water.


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