Biennial plants make up an important part of the garden. They fill a gap between annuals that last for one season and perennials that can live for more than three years. Biennials are plants that grow over two years. Usually, they spend the first year growing and establishing a root structure and leaf system. The second growing season, the plant sends up flowers and produces seeds.
However, you can trick biennials into flowering sooner. If biennials are started from seed in late summer, planted in early fall, and allowed time to get established in the late fall, they overwinter and will bloom in the spring following their fall planting. Hence, fall planted biennial flowers can be a huge asset to a flower farm or garden.
Below are some of my favorite biennials that we have growing on the farm.
Lunaria (Honesty/Money Plant). We started this biennial in the late summer, planted it out in the fall, and have been enjoying its purple flowers and flat seed pods. Lunaria overwintered well and has been dependable as a crop. As the plant continues to mature, the flat pods will dry out and turn a silver color. I am planning on using lunaria in dried bouquets and market bouquets. Lunaria has medicinal qualities, and all parts of it can be eaten.
Foxglove. A tried and true garden flower, foxgloves add interest to any landscape or bouquet. All parts of the foxglove plant can be toxic when consumed. These guys love sun but may need some shade if planted in a hot and sunny environment. We have four different varieties of foxgloves in the ground. These were planted this spring, so I don't expect a harvest until next year.
Rudbeckia. We have grown a few different varieties of rudbeckia. My favorite has been the Sahara rudbeckias. I planted different varieties of rudbeckia seedlings in our perennial bed last year, and they added bright color all summer long.
Dianthus (Sweet William). I have had dianthus growing in a huge pot on the back porch for years. Each year, these cheery flowers pop up in a bed of creeping Jenny. In the fall, I planted out dianthus starts on the farm and have appreciated their steady and dependable nature this spring for use in bouquets. This is another plant that overwintered well.
A biennial I would like to add this fall for next spring:
Canterbury Bells. This beautiful bell-shaped flower would be a great addition to the garden and farm. I am looking forward to starting seeds this summer to get this plant in the ground in early fall.
What is your favorite biennial? Is there another biennial you would consider for this list?