Hot Annuals for Cool Gardens

It’s a great time for gardeners! Never before have we seen such a huge variety of available plants. Botanists, hybridizers, nursery professionals, and adventurous global collectors all possess a fiery passion for new and unusual garden worthy plants. Their hard work comes to us in the form of little treasures in small pots holding wonderful surprises. The beauty of nature combines with the artistry of humankind right there in your garden.

Just in case you become bored with the same old marigold, consider expanding your horizons. Just like a kid in a candy shop, you can gather into your containers, sweet and delectable beauties that inspire joy in the heart of even the most jaded gardener.

Annuals are plants that sprout, grow, bloom, set seed and die in one seasonal cycle. Because producing seed is their only means of reproduction, they must flower heavily and continuously. If you “dead- head”, or remove the spent blooms, they will flower even more in an attempt to make more seed. This is why annuals are so effective in summer beds and containers for that great color splash.

In new garden beds or mixed borders, annuals can be tucked around to brighten up bare places until the shrubs and perennials fill in. In a cutting garden, annuals will contribute the most volume of choice options for the vase on the kitchen table. Whether for bold, jazzy color or gracious understated charm, annuals render long seasonal interest.

* Alonsoa ‘Fireball Red’ A hot blast of tiny deep red-orange flowers. Non-stop blooms.

Superbells Dreamsicle Calibrachoa

* Anagalis ‘Sky Lover’ If you like blue, this one delivers! A sweet, rich trailer for hanging baskets and window boxes.

* Calibrachoa, Million Bells Like a miniature petunia, these come in an amazing variety of rich colors. Produces quarter size flowers which hang in profusion and bloom like mad once the weather warms up.

* Cerinthe (sir-IN-thee) A distinctive eye-catcher with blue-gray foliage and nodding bells of air-brushed purple. Politely reseeds for next year.

* Cleome (klee-OH-mee) Try the new compact versions of this old favorite. Also known as Spider Flower, this plant blooms in pink, white or purple that doesn’t quit until hard frost.

* Coleus Too many varieties to count, the brilliant colorful foliage adds a wonderful dimension to the annual mix. Try the new sun tolerant strains.

* Diascia Masses of spurred blossoms in a densely mounding plant. The colors are rich and varied.

* Lobularia ‘Snow Princess’ Our favorite alyssum! Sweetly fragrant white flowers by the thousands quickly fill a pot or hanging basket surrounding everything else with a cloud of loveliness. This is not your grandmother’s alyssum…

* Nemesia So many new colors available on this strong, yet delicate looking plant. Mini-snapdragon-like flowers come in a wide array of colors, some with a sweet fragrance.

* Nicotiana sylvestris (nik-OH-shee-anna) Intensely fragrant, long tubular white bells adorn this stately plant. Stunning in the night garden.

* Osteospermum or African Daisy, Large flowers pump out strong bright colors all summer long and into fall.

Supertunia Raspberry Blast

* Supertunias and Surfinia Petunias The standard garden variety petunia has found some serious competition since these leviathans crashed the party. Large branches of non-stop flowers easily hang three feet or more. The Hercules of the petunia world.

* Annual Vines Asarina, Cobaea, Mina lobata, Ipomoea Fast growing, long blooming, colorful climbers…tucked into a mixed container to ramble through other annuals, or set against a summer trellis for a quick seasonal screening, the annual vines deserve more recognition.

These days, the beautiful garden is only as limited as the imagination. (well, okay, and the pocketbook and the energy for digging, etc.) So follow the directions and then have fun breaking the rules!

Maureen Murphy, Bayview Farm & Garden

Photo Credit: Proven Winners, LLC., Superbells Dreamsicle, Supertunia Rasberry Blast