Fall Flowers in Spring?

lavender flower
Last weekend, CTG viewer Britlin Hemingway asked a question on many gardeners’ minds: “Why are fall asters blooming NOW?!”
red and black butterfly on white flowers
In my garden, native shrub white mistflower/shrubby boneset (Ageratina havanensis) jumped a few months to pop its signature fuzzy flowers. Typically, it’s timed to help out fall migrating butterflies, but a cruising Red Admiral didn’t complain about the slight change of plans.

So, what’s up? In fall, shorter daylight hours and cooler temperatures initiate blooming on these plants. Our recent string of cloudy days and cool temperatures mimicked fall enough to prompt a few flowers. Travis County Extension horticulturist Daphne Richards explains more in our (cute) archived working from home video.
leafy plants with a few white flowers
In the next few weeks, we can lightly trim back rambunctious spring growth on asters and shrubby bonesets for more robust shape and fall flowers. To the right, native turk’s cap will bloom soon. Fall-blooming goldenrod will chime in for an October white, red, and golden floral spectrum in this part sun strip.
magenta flower against floppy damaged leaves
Progressive blooming across seasons extends Earth Day to every day. That’s why we want to celebrate the changing of the guard and accept every life stage, including the ratty-looking one! After a busy spring, spiderwort (Tradescantia gigantea) flops scarred leaves in its exit seed-setting strategy, while vivid winecup awakens to unfurl its butterfly welcome. Perennial spiderwort will emerge anew next fall, while the seeds it sows this spring start a new life. Simply cut it to the ground when all the seed heads are brown. You can collect seeds to save or scatter in new areas, or let it surprise you next winter.
red flowers and various green leaf textures
In another part sun spot, Salvia ‘Silke’s Dream’ blooms in spring, picking it up again in fall. Next door, native skeleton-leaf goldeneye daisy may flower now, but reserves its big show for fall. Beyond, a supporting cast of native inland sea oats textures things up until oat-like seed heads emerge green this summer, turning to bronze as our clocks fall back.
rice-colored seed heads on slender grass leaves
To the right, native cool weather twoflower melicgrass (Melica mutica) waves its plump seed heads in spring instead, its slender leaves dropping in another textural look.
golden yellow flowers on toothed leaves
On a front curb pummeled with afternoon sun against reflected heat, native perennial Engelmann’s daisy zoomed up the past few weeks. Zexmenia to the left is soon to explode in showers of golden flowers. To the right, I planted prostrate rosemary for its wintertime bee food flowers (protected like mad in February’s freeze!). I clip it, too, mainly for homemade facial steams to soothe the allergy beast.

Here’s to Earth Day every day! Thanks for stopping by, Linda