Pentas for Fall
I have to admit that pentas are one of my favorite summer annuals. While they have good tolerance for our summer heat and humidity, they're one of the best color annuals for the fall season. The name penta comes from the Latin, meaning five, since each small flower has five petals. The other name commonly used for these plants is Egyptian star flowers. It's common for each penta plant to have up to 20 clusters of flowers at any given time. These plants are known not only for the pretty flower colors but also for being pollinator magnets. In the fall, as the weather is changing, the pollinators know it's time to get ready for the winter season. I love seeing the different butterflies and bumblebees vying for position on the broad penta flower heads. As a testament to their tough landscape and garden performance, the Butterfly penta series was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2001. Since that time, there have been many more series introduced to the market. BeeBright pentas have a compact habit with consistent and uniform flowering. Kaleidoscope pentas have intense colored flower clusters. These are vigorous, growing to about 18 inches. In my opinion, it doesn't matter which series you plant, because they all look good. For best flowering, pentas need to be planted in an area that gets at least six hours of full sun a day. I'm MSU Extension Horticulture Specialist Gary Bachman, and we'll see you next time on "Southern Gardening."