November, in the northern hemisphere, brings ever-shorter days and increasingly cold nights. Many plants, however, have flowers that are in season in November. They withstand the month's inhospitable conditions in great form. Planted beneath bare-limbed trees and shrubs, they add color and texture to otherwise barren landscapes. Planting some of these flowers will reward you with a few extra weeks of gardening enjoyment before winter sets in.
Aster (Symphyotrichum anomalum), a perennial hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, is native to North America's rocky, dry woodlands and thickets. Standing up to 3 feet high and 30 inches wide, this erect plant has 3.5 inch, lance-like green leaves low on its stiff stems. Upper leaves are smaller. Between July and November, it blooms with abundant, small daisy-like blooms. Their purple rays (petals) encircle flat, bright yellow centers. The flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.
Apart from susceptibility to powdery mildew and wilt, aster seldom suffers from insects or disease. Good air circulation will decrease the likelihood of leaf diseases. Use aster, suggests the Missouri Botanical Garden, in woodland, butterfly or cottage gardens. Plants grow easily in full sun and dry to averagely moist, well-drained soil. They suffer in poorly drained clay.
Cardinal feather (Acalypha radians) is a sun-loving, clumping perennial native to Texas. Growing from 6 to 8 inches high, it blooms from April to November. Short cylindrical spikes of red blooms with greenish-white bracts appear on female plants. Longer male flower spikes lack the bracts. The flowers rise on stems above bright green, airy foliage. Plant cardinal feather in full sun and dry, well-drained soil where other plants won't crowd it, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Good drainage is essential.
Blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) is another aster family perennial. Standing 2 to 3 feet high, it's native to stream banks, ditches and woodland edges from New Jersey south to Florida and as far west as Texas. Its stems have toothed, triangular green leaves and upper branches that create flat tops. Disc-like, fluffy purple-blue flowers appear from July to November. Blue mistflower spreads rapidly and makes a good ground cover, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Like aster, it attracts butterflies. Plant it in sun to partial shade and moist sand, loam or clay.
Fire-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia cyathophora), an annual dwarf poinsettia, belongs to the spurge family. Growing wild as from far north as Minnesota south to Florida and Alabama, it has green stems and lance-shaped leaves. Upper leaves have red-blotched bases. From May to November, fire-on-the-mountain has clusters of tiny yellow flowers. Use it, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, as a garden accent where it won't be invasive. The plants like full sun and moist, loamy soil.