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Bloom Highlights

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Sources for "What's in Bloom: Bloom Highlights" listings include the Chicago Botanic Garden's staff and database, as well as the publications and records of other botanic gardens, institutions, and the scientific community.

Aromatic Aster

This aster is native to the northeastern and central parts of the US. It blooms in late summer-early fall with masses of fine-petaled flowers in shades of blue and purple. It is called aromatic aster because of the sticky, scented glands on the small, narrow leaves. It can reach a height of 3 feet with a similar spread, but should be clipped back by a fourth in early summer. This creates a denser, more compact plant with more flowers. It should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil. Once established, it is both heat and drought tolerant.

Miniature Rose

Gizmo™ miniature rose (Rosa 'Wekcatlart') is covered with orange-red, single rose flowers boasting a white eye in the center of the blossom from June up to the first frost. It was hybridized in 1998 by John Carruth, as a hybrid of 'Carrot Top', a double orange rose, and 'Little Artist', a single red rose. This hardy rose resists black spot and matures at 18 inches in height and width, with flowers smelling lightly of apples. Grow this rose in full sun and moderately moist soils with periodic additions of soluble fertilizer.

Sage

Introduced in 2018 from an Australian breeding program, SKYSCRAPER™ Orange sage is a tender hybrid perennial that will keep up its floral display well into fall with occasional dead-heading of spent flowers. With well-branched, bushy habits, plants will grow to 28 inches tall and prefer full sun. Potted plants should be fertilized occasionally to keep up their vigor. Flowers grow in spikes reaching well above the foliage and the long, tubular flowers pop out of dark red-orange calyxes with a green base. The flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds. There are also pink and purple varieties.

Savannah Sunset Lion's Ear

Savannah Sunset lion's tail (Leonotis ocymifolia 'Savannah Sunset') produces bright orange, fuzzy, tubular flowers in whorls from mid-summer through fall. A native of Africa, this plant is not hardy in the Chicago area, but it will provide a colorful annual display if planted in full sun and not overwatered. The flowering stems reach 6 feet in height and the plant will grow to 3 feet in width, so a position at the back of the flower bed or border is most appropriate. The leaves are fragrant when crushed.

Waterlily Autumn Crocus

Waterlily crocus (Colchicum 'Waterlily') delights and thrills gardeners in September and October when the large (6-inch tall by 5-inch wide) double flowers begin to open. Reliably hardy in the Chicago region, the plant has broad green leaves that are produced in spring and die back in early summer, so the flowers appear to spring from the bare soil in fall. Deer and rabbits dislike the chemicals in the sap, which are toxic and cause chromosomal abnormalities; but slugs, for some reason, appear resistant to the chemicals (only a problem in wet falls). Plant these bulbs in full sun to partial shade and avoid disturbance. Over time, the original bulb (a corm, actually) will produce "daughter" bulbs, resulting in dozens of flowers.

This cultivar is the result of a cross between Colchicum autumnale 'Alboplenum' and Colchicum speciosum 'Album'. Through the miracle of genetic recombination, these two small-flowered white cultivars created this very large-flowered lavender cultivar, which sports dozens of petals in a single bloom.