October salvia and Philippine lily seed stalks are taking center stage in our temporary garden bed.  It’s fall, and we almost had a freeze this week! Of course we are back up to 85 degrees for a high today. I know we all experience these ups and downs and as our minds turn to winter thoughts,  it makes us wonder what we need to be doing in the garden now. The answer is obvious…enjoy the garden while you can! We are enjoying our fall blooming Salvia before a freeze takes them out.  Also, we have a Saturday garden project coming up that involved doing something with our Philippine lily stalks.

Our fall Salvia luecantha is continuing to bloom. It serves as a back drop to our finished Philippine lily seed stalks which are now forming seed pods. Forgive us that the garden is not ready for a magazine phot shoot at this point as we’re still recovering from losing a 100 year old oak tree to the freeze last year. More to come on this fun garden project in the future.

In the meantime, I’m using this as an opportunity to grow out more Philippine lilies and let them go to seed!

After the summer trumpet shaped blooms of the Philippine lily seeds are over, the former flowers form into seed pods that point upward and turn into a browning garden candelabra.

A picture of the flowers from this July. 

As the pods go from green to a golden brown, the tips open up and expose hollow tubes with hundreds of papery seeds. In this example, I put a bag over the pods and collected the seeds, but you can also cut the stalk off.

With the cut stalk, you can walk through your garden, waving the pods around like a baton in a Dia de los Muertos parade as the seeds fly into the air. Let them land where they may, scratch up the soil some, give them some moisture, and you can have flowering bulbs within a year of growth. It is quite fascinating to have flower bulbs form so quickly from seed, and this is a fun activity during the warm fall days.

Soon a cold snap will take us below freezing, and that will be it for our Salvia plants. At this point, along with many other perennials, cut the foliage off down to the base, mulch the root area, and make room for the spring blooming daffodils, tulips, and other flower bulbs that start growing and blooming during the winter months. This is also a great time to plant additional fall bulbs for spring blooms.

We hope you are enjoying the fall! Flower bulbs blooming now include red spider lilies, white rain lilies, some school house lilies, native liatris in West Texas, and autumn daffodils (Sternbergia lutea).  Read here for more tips on using flower bulbs in the garden.

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