Orange Autumn Blooms in the Shenandoah Valley

orange flowers in bloom

orange flowers in bloom

It’s a a gray, dreary day in the Shenandoah Valley. It finally feels like Autumn is here, which is a bittersweet realization. It means the butterflies and other critters are headed south or overwintering, and the flowers are starting to fade. The birds are already enjoying the seed from the coneflowers!

With a little planning you can squeeze out flowers as long as possible in your garden. Over the next few days I’ll share what is still putting on a show and feeding pollinators. First up — orange-toned annual flowers.

Tithonia –¬†Mexican Sunflower, upper left, is a new favorite. Monarch butterflies love it, and it blooms nonstop from early summer to frost. It can get pretty big in the garden, but I started mine late to keep the size under control. If it grows the 9 feet it can in this area, you might want to support it. I received this seed from a fellow Master Gardener, who tells me it reseeds happily. I only added six plants this year, so I look forward to seeing what I get next year! The seed is easy though a little painful to collect because the seedheads are so prickly.

Tagetes –¬†Tangerine Marigold, upper right, and red/yellow marigold, lower left, give the bees constant food summer to frost. I love the tangerine marigold. It (and others) self seed in the garden, but they haven’t yet crossed with each other, so each year I get these tiny pops of orange. The red/yellow I grew from purchased seed. The name escapes me at the moment, but I’ll add it when it comes to me. Marigold seed is also really easy to collect.

Zinnias – this small orange Zinnia, lower right, was purchased mid summer at my favorite greenhouse in Roanoke. It’s a small-compact variety. It doesn’t get a great deal of sun due to nearby plants, but it’s happily blooming along. I also have taller varieties in pale green and pink. I’ve seen skippers on this low-growing variety, but the bigger butterflies enjoy the taller varieties in my garden. They should all bloom till frost, have easy-to-collect seed, and happily reseed.

*** This site is comprised solely of the opinions of its author, Stacey Morgan Smith. She works to promote gardening and tourism in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, from Roanoke to the Potomac River.***

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