How Fall Can Be About More Than Pansies

Bellis Speedster (Benary)
English daises such as Bellis Speedster (Benary) love the cool weather, overwinter in much of the country, and provide excellent color.

There are so many silly dogmas to be smashed that sometimes I don’t know where to start. Toads cause warts. Black cats are bad luck. Avoid Friday the 13th, and only pansies and mums make money in the fall.

I am not sure where some of these beliefs and superstitions arose, nor can I believe that anyone in this industry still adheres to the last one. People have been writing about enhancing fall sales since forever, so why am I reinventing the wheel?

Perhaps because the more I plant shop, the more frustrated I get. So much is predicated on impulse. It seems we truly believe that nobody cares about cultivars, and we have given up hope that people will get smarter and actually ask for certain plants.

That is frustrating to be sure, at least for me. Fall is upon us. What are we going to do about it? We can shove more pansies, violas, and mums down consumers’ throats, or we can help guide the focus of their impulses.

Here are a few focusable plants for the fall shoulder, fall sales, and spring shoulder seasons.

Shoulder Sales In The Fall

  • Cosmos. It seems that they have almost disappeared from standard bedding mixes. They have great colors and diversity of heights.
  • Annual Rudbeckia. They often poop out by mid-summer, so having refresher pots in late summer helps people take their color into late fall.
  • Celosia. The “brain” forms can get ratty by late summer. These work well in containers and in the ground and give a color boost when color is needed.
  • Love In-A-Mist (Nigella). We keep selling these as summer annuals, if we sell them at all. However, they tolerate lots of heat and cold and will go well into the fall with renewed plantings.
  • Calendula. Try using this as a shoulder plant in late summer. It tolerates cool temperatures much better than heat and will be beautiful all fall.
  • Cool-Season Veggies. Duh. Let’s feed the masses. Grow them, and they will eat.

Fall Sales

  • Pansies, violas, mums — check, check, check. Ok, what else?
  • Bedding Dianthus (actually hybrids). These are no-brainers. They look good going through the fall, stay green all winter, if not under snow, and will pop out in the spring, thriving well into the summer.
  • Snapdragons. Ditto, although they do not have the same winter hardiness as dianthus. The breeding has provided earlier flowering in the spring and more heat tolerance. The standard upright forms are better than dwarf varieties for fall sales.
  • English Daisies (Bellis). This is another plant that was in favor 10 years ago that has all but disappeared. English daisies love the cool weather, overwinter in much of the country, and provide excellent color.

Shoulder Sales In Late Winter, Early Spring

  • Nasturtiums. Grandma’s favorite — why have they disappeared? It’s likely for the same reason other plants like larkspur and lupines have left us. They have a small window and without a doubt are more difficult to schedule. But everyone loves nasturtiums, they will move. They also can take some frost if grown cool.
  • Lupines. They are probably too expensive and too difficult to schedule for much of the country, but with the new breeding I saw at California Spring Trials, I believe there is a much brighter future for shoulder sales and perhaps even fall sales of lupines. They may never be a big item, but they are poised for better things.
  • Hybrid Bedding Primula. No matter how many people try to tell me about the heat tolerance of primroses, I still see them decline as temperatures heat up. As spring shoulder plants, they can be beautiful for months. They generally are not sufficiently cold tolerant to come through winters unblemished.

These are but a few ideas. Add these to your perennials for the fall and veggies in the spring, and you will soon have a Bacchus-like potpourri for sales all year.

Topics: , , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Armitage On Plants...
Andropogon gerardii Blackhawks (Intrinsic Perennial Gardens)

April 25, 2017

Kelly Norris: Diversity is the Key to Growing the Ornamental Grass Market

Offering a selection of ornamental grasses that cater to customer needs will keep sales from stagnating.

Read More

April 25, 2017

41 New Vegetative Petunias From California Spring Trials 2017: Northern Sites

With the abundance of new introductions for the 2018 retail season, we’ve made it easier for you to sift through them by separating out the vegetative petunias from the Northern sites, which includes selections from Westhoff Flowers, Sakata Ornamentals, Danziger, Proven Winners, and Syngenta flowers.

Read More
Begonia Spectre Silver Terra Nova Nurseries

April 20, 2017

Terra Nova Nurseries Releases Two New, Attractive Begonia Varieties

Stardust is the latest addition to Terra Nova Nurseries’ existing T Rex Begonia series, and Silver is the first introduction to the company’s new Spectre Begonia series.

Read More
Latest Stories

April 5, 2017

Dr. A’s Day Four Top Varieties for CAST 2017

Check out Dr. Allan Armitage's top five picks from visits to Dummen Orange, Chisan Orchids, and Windmill Nursery during day four of California Spring Trials 2017.

Read More

April 4, 2017

Dr. A’s Day Three Picks for CAST 2017

Take a look at Dr. Allan Armitage’s top five favorites from the American Takii, Sakata, and Floricultura stops during the 2017 California Spring Trials.

Read More

April 3, 2017

CAST 2017, Day 2: Dr A’s Eye Catchers

Today I wanted to share some exciting programs that were on display on Day 2 at CAST. There are always new plants to chat up, which I will do tomorrow, but here are a few interesting lineups to think about.

Read More

April 2, 2017

CAST 2017: Dr. A’s Top 5 Picks From Danziger, Syngenta …

On day one of California Spring Trials 2017, Dr. Allan Armitage reveals the five plants that most caught his attention.

Read More
Allan Armitage Of Naked Ladies and Forget Me Nots

March 28, 2017

New Book From Allan Armitage Features Stories of Plant …

“Of Naked Ladies and Forget-Me-Nots” offers Allan’s recollections of the origins of unique plant names, as well as how many plants factored into historical events.

Read More
Bee on Lavender feature

March 23, 2017

Allan Armitage: Plant Consumers Don’t Talk About …

Allan Armitage says it's time to get in touch with our true audience and market plant solutions, not plant products.

Read More
Butterfly on a Pollinator Plant Feature

March 7, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why You Should Focus on the Functionali…

New crops are great, but Armitage says selling plants by function makes more sense.

Read More
Allan Armitage San Marzano tomato plant feature

January 25, 2017

Allan Armitage Describes Veggies, Shade Plants, and Cli…

Here's a look at plants that could help you with successful growing in 2017.

Read More
nepeta-purple-wave-with-roses

December 30, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants That Can Bring Success in the Ne…

Are you wondering which plants to grow? Here are some perennials, annuals, and herbs that are gaining popularity.

Read More
allan-friend-daughter-kate-pulling-margarita-feature

November 23, 2016

Allan Armitage: Relax, There Are More Plant Enthusiasts…

When times get tough, we would do well to remember that there are people of all types still interested in plants.

Read More
tassle-fern-feature

October 27, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants I Am Finally Seeing More Of (Abo…

Here are four plants showing up more often in the garden and landscape that are set to make a comeback.

Read More
deutzia-yuki-snowflake

September 22, 2016

Allan Armitage Suggests Plants That “Even My Neig…

When the urge to garden strikes, every homeowner needs a few plants like these for their yard.

Read More
Penn State University Trial Day

August 26, 2016

How Greenhouse Growers Can Broaden Their Horizons

Allan Armitage says you can learn new ideas to help your business when you get out to visit plant trials and other growers.

Read More
Bellis Speedster (Benary)

August 2, 2016

How Fall Can Be About More Than Pansies

Allan Armitage suggests a few notable plants for the fall shoulder, fall sales, and spring shoulder seasons.

Read More
Nathan Lamkey Chuck Pavlich Allan Armitage talk about muckgenia

May 31, 2016

Allan Armitage: Three Trends (Good And Bad) That Caught…

We need to put the same energies we invest into California Spring Trials to get plants into consumers’ hands and encourage young people in the industry to attend.

Read More
Pennisetum Fireworks

April 28, 2016

Why Ornamental Grasses Are Great For People In Condos A…

Allan Armitage says breeders need to do a better job of making growers, brokers, and garden centers aware of better ornamental grass cultivars for the increasingly shrinking garden space.

Read More
Scaevola 'Purple Haze' (Danziger 2016)

April 19, 2016

Allan Armitage Picks His Favorites From Proven Winners,…

From “crazy” petunias to container pentas, there was plenty that caught Allan’s eye during the final day of 2016 California Spring Trials.

Read More
Fashion Show At Benary

April 15, 2016

California Spring Trials: Dr. Allan Armitage Notes Emer…

Attractive new varieties will draw the eyes of consumers, but innovation and creativity will keep them coming back.

Read More