Easy-care au­tumn flow­ers

Bring an ex­tra hit of color to your yard with these easy-care au­tumn flow­ers. Bonus: They at­tract birds and but­ter­flies!

First For Women - - Feel-Good File -

Marigolds

Fill­ing a wo­ven wicker bas­ket with a plas­tic pot of marigolds cre­ates a lovely dis­play that’s sure to liven up a pa­tio, says Melinda My­ers, au­thor of Small Space Gar­den­ing. “The gold and or­ange petals look great with the browns of the wicker.” And it’s the seeds—not the flow­ers or the scent—of these hardy stun­ners that at­tract spar­rows, finches and even but­ter­flies, she says. Marigolds pre­fer full sun but will tol­er­ate light shade. For best re­sults, plant them in moist, welldrain­ing soil and wa­ter reg­u­larly.

Sun­flow­ers

Sun­flower seeds are a fa­vorite snack of birds—car­di­nals, chick­adees, nuthatches and red-bel­lied wood­peck­ers are all likely to fly by for a nib­ble. Plant­ing the blooms in a gal­va­nized tub makes for a strik­ing dis­play, says My­ers. “The sim­plic­ity of a wash­tub com­ple­ments the vi­brant sun­flow­ers.” And a stag­gered plant­ing strat­egy helps fill in the bare space that the stems of tow­er­ing sun­flow­ers would oth­er­wise cre­ate: Here, medium-height sun­flow­ers and creep­ing zin­nias add splashes of yel­low, fram­ing the tallest blooms. Place in a spot that gets full sun and let the soil dry out be­tween wa­ter­ings.

Asters

Vi­brant star-shaped asters—and their tasty seeds—will have goldfinches, towhees and in­digo buntings flock­ing to your yard. To make the dis­play just as ap­peal­ing to hu­man vis­i­tors, My­ers rec­om­mends plant­ing asters in a con­tainer that’s in the same color fam­ily as the blos­soms—a strat­egy that cre­ates vis­ual in­ter­est while re­tain­ing a sense of unity. And the cooler tones are sooth­ing, she ex­plains. Also smart: plac­ing the blooms in slightly rounded con­tain­ers to com­ple­ment the flow­ers’ domed shape. Adds My­ers, “These plants need full sun to light shade and they should be wa­tered thor­oughly and of­ten enough to keep the soil slightly moist.”

Joe-pye weed

Wrens, tit­mice, jun­cos and chick­adees love snack­ing on Joe-pye weed seeds; they also like to use the puffy flow­ers to build warm nests as the weather be­gins to cool. “This is a big plant—it grows 5 to 7 feet tall,” notes My­ers. “The large blos­soms de­mand at­ten­tion, so the plant can re­ally hold its own in a fall gar­den.” (If you want to make a smaller state­ment, she rec­om­mends look­ing for the newer com­pact va­ri­eties of the flower.) When planted near an en­try­way, Joe-pye weed greets guests with a burst of color and a wel­com­ing vanilla fra­grance. My­ers ad­vises plac­ing the easy-care flow­ers in full sun to par­tial shade and keep­ing the soil moist.

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