My Top 10 Must Have Annuals

When I worked in public garden curation, I used to grow and use a lot of annuals. Much has changed since then. Many annuals are now clonal, that is they are now grown from cuttings instead of from seed. At first glace this seems crazy because seeds are easy and cheap, but these new cutting grown selections grow better and flower longer and harder. Gardeners may pay a bit more up front but these plants are a much better value. You need fewer plants to cover the same amount of ground and the display starts earlier and goes longer. These new plants fill in faster and require less care. In the old days we would plant spring annuals, replace them with summer annuals and then dead-head or replace them with mums to keep the display looking good. Not any more; this new breed of annual has changed all that.

Still there are some plants that will always be grown from seed like the castor bean plant or fragrant tobacco. These plants grow plenty fast as it is. 

When it comes to annuals, I'm a fan of big and bold. I am also a fan of fragrance. But above all I am a fan of plants that perform in the garden. Summer is too short here in Michigan to plant wimpy annuals that take 4 months to mature. I want plants that offer quick color and that fill in fast to shade out the weeds. Because I hate weeding. 

Here are my top 10 favorites. What are your favorite annuals?    

10. Colorblaze® 'Sedona' Coleus is a favorite of mine because the color is
so warm and rich. It is a strong grower that is great for
adding blocks of color to shade or partial shade areas in your yard.
The Colorblase series of coleus do not go to flower and seed as quickly.

9. Graceful Grasses® Vertigo® Pennisetum boasts big bold leaves.
This is a monster plant that gives you color, contrast and texture in
the garden. It also gives you movement. I adore big annuals.  

8. Kale 'Kaleidoscope' a wonderful cool season annual with a ruffled margin.
The foliage color changes and intensifies as the temperatures drop in autumn.
Ornamental Kales and Cabbages are great in mixed containers. 

7. Nicotiana sylvestris the Fragrant Tobacco is a bold plant with incredible fragrance.
It is grown from seed but matures quickly. I like to plant it in groups of 5 or more
to give people a real good dose of sweet fragrance as they pass by. 

 6. Ricinus communis 'Carmencita' - Castor Bean plant is big bold plant
and some cultivars have attractive
 red leaves like this one.
One plant can reach 5-6' or more in one season.  

5. Supertunia® Raspberry Blast is a super strong grower with incredible flower power. 
Like other Supertunias it is a super grower and a great value. You can get cheaper
petunias but they wont grow and flower like this series of plants.

4. I love Superbells® Cherry Star Calibrachoa because it is such a cheerful color. 
It boasts a unique blend of bright red with a yellow lines.

3. Euphorbia Diamond Frost® looks great every day all summer long. A very strong 
grower that gives great garden value. It is great in containers, as seen here,
 or in the garden. Just give it plenty of room to grow.  

2. The fragrant Snow Princess® Lobularia blooms all summer long
and it saves you money because you need fewer plants
compared to traditional sweet alyssum which is seen on the right.
Traditional alyssum stops flowering in summer but this plant just keeps going. 

1. This is my number one favorite annual and a must have in every garden.
 Vista Bubblegum is an incredible plant that flowers non-stop
and looks good every day all season long. There are only two plants in each of
these window boxes but you could have achieved the same resultls with one plant. That's how strong this plant grows. This annual amazes me!  

See You in Tulsa, Oklahoma

I am pleased to announce I will be in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday, October 13 to speak at a conference entitled "Superior Plants for Superior Gardens."  The conference is sponsored by the Ozark Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and is a fundraiser to support the development of the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden.

Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden 

I'm excited to be speaking along side some heavy hitting plant geeks such as Shane Berry, Len Miller and and Todd Lasseigne. Shane Berry will be talking about new and interesting Redbud (Cercis) cultivars. There has been some real interesting breeding developments with Redbud as you saw in my last post. 

Dr. Miller is the past president of the American Rhododendron Society and founder of Lendonwood Gardens and Elk Ridge Garden. He will give insight into which Rhododendrons are tough enough to thrive in Oklahoma. There have been some incredible breeding breakthroughs in breeding for disease resistance and heat tolerance in this genera so I am excited to learn more from Leonard.  

Todd Lasseigne, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden, is the plant geek's plant geek. Todd will fill us in on the development of the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden and then lead us on a tour of the grounds.  Seeing Todd will be a highlight for me and many other plant geeks.

Scheduled Speakers include:

9:00 a.m. “Developing the Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden” - Dr. Todd Lasseigne

9:15 a.m. "Rhododendrons in Oklahoma" - Dr. Leonard Miller

9:45 a.m. "Plant Hunting for Superior Plants" - Tim Wood

10:30 a.m. - Break

10:45 a.m. "Redbud Cultivars" - Shane Berry

- Lunch on your own -

1:30 p.m. Tour at Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Garden - Dr. Todd Lasseigne      

Plant sale: The Ozark Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will have a limited number of rhododendrons for sale during the conference.

Location: Tulsa Community College - Northeast Campus: 3727 East Apache Street, Tulsa.

Hope to see you there!


New Plant pics: Holland 2012

Here is a quick pictorial of some of the new plants that I ran across on my last trip to the Netherlands. We saw some pretty cool plants. What do you like? 

Fairy Dance Abelia a dwarf with lots of flowers

 Flutterby Pink Buddleia - A new Butterfly Bush

Ivory Buzz Buddleia

Lo & Behold Lilac Chip Buddleia wins the best plant award

Denny Werner's Lo & Behold Ice Chip also won an award

Cercis Ruby Falls, a Denny Werner plant, wins a medal 

Calluna vulgaris (heather) Notre Dame

Blue Bunny - Carex laxiculmis 'Hobb'  - An American variety from Robert Head

Clematis Princess Kate

Clematis Fond Memories

Cornus kousa 'Summer Gold'

Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Frosted Flame'

A trio of colorful Hebes

Hydrangea a. petiolaris 'Silver Lining'

Heuchera 'Circus'

Flair and Flavours Hydrangea is called Tuff Stuff in North America

The flower color can be changed to purple-blue with Aluminum Sulfate

Tuff Stuff Hydrangea wins a Gold Medal

Incrediball Hydrangea and Jane's Hand on a truck

Hypericum nodorum Magical Triumph 

Mr. H.J.M. Kuijf with his new variety Happy Face Pink Paradise Potentilla 

Happy Face Pink Paradise Potentilla