New plants get gardeners excited whether they are just new to them or new to the industry. Every winter, I scour industry journals and gardening magazines in search of new annuals that could add color to perennial borders and spice up containers. Here are eight of the annuals I will be looking for at garden centers this spring.
Begonia Holiday™ ‘Snowflake’
I often plant begonias in the containers on my north-facing front porch and in the corner under the pergola on the deck off our master bedroom. Their colorful foliage adds color to these shady spots. I love the frosty silver leaves of Begonia Holiday™ ‘Snowflake’. It shows off salmon-pink flowers that fall like fireworks from wispy stems over the foliage.
Plants grow up to 18 inches tall and 15 inches wide. Keep their rich, well-drained potting mix slightly moist, but not wet, and bring them in before frost to grow as houseplants in the winter.
Begonia Holiday™ ‘Snowflake’ will be beautiful in one of my containers combined with a red-foliaged, shade-loving coleus, some bright green ferns and Harmony Scarlet wax begonias.
Coleus Main Street™ ‘La Rambla’
There are so many cultivars of coleus available today, it must be pretty special for me to give it a second look. I couldn’t stop admiring Coleus Main Street™ ‘La Rambla’ when I first saw it at a trade show last summer, and I can’t wait to plant it in a container on the sun-drenched deck off our family room.
This coleus is well branched and grows 2 feet tall, sometimes taller, and 1 to 2 feet wide. Its vibrant foliage is heavily textured. Dark maroon netting covers deep green leaves while flames of cherry red shoot up through the centers.
Wouldn’t Coleus Main Street™ ‘La Rambla’ look spectacular with a vinca boasting flowers the same color as its ‘flames’, Blackie sweet potato vine, and another new plant for 2018, Cyperus ‘A Lil in da Nile’?
Cyperus ‘A Lil in da Nile’
And speaking of Cyperus ‘A Lil in da Nile’, I will search independent garden centers until I find this new papyrus. In past seasons, King Tut joined tropicals in my largest containers and quickly grew as tall as 5 feet. Prince Tut has grown happily to nearly 3 feet with its pot set right in our pond, softening the flagstone edge. Manageable for most containers, Baby Tut grows up to 2 feet tall and wide, adding foliage texture and form.
Cyperus ‘A Lil in da Nile’ is even more compact, growing just 12 to 18 inches tall and wide. It will be a fine addition to add linear form, fine texture and bright green color to most container designs. Although it prefers to grow in wet conditions, it is very adaptable and will tolerate moderate moisture.
Brought to us by our friends at Hort Couture, Cyperus ‘A Lil in da Nile’ will only be available at local independent garden centers. You won’t find it at box stores.
Cuphea FloriGlory™ ‘Diana’
I haven’t had much interest in Mexican heather before, but Cuphea FloriGlory™ ‘Diana’ has my attention. It boasts larger and more brightly-colored magenta flowers than other varieties. What’s better than bigger and brighter flowers? More of them! It has double the blooms of other cultivars.
Diana Mexican heather, an All-America Selections 2018 Award Winner, grows in mounds up to a foot tall and boasts those beautiful blooms from late spring until frost. Plant some at the front of perennial borders, in mass plantings, in hanging baskets or in container gardens.
Is a re-blooming sunflower possible? It sure is! Unlike single stem sunflowers that flower just once, Helianthus ‘Sunfinity’ has multiple stems that continue to produce flowers all summer long. Perfect for planting in both the garden and in large containers, plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.
I have been a sucker for sunflowers ever since, as a little girl, I planted their seeds and marveled at their sunny magnificence. I am going to plant Helianthus ‘Sunfinity’ in a sunny perennial border, deadheading them to get as many as one hundred flowers on a single plant over the course of the summer.
Ornamental Pepper ‘Midnight Fire’
In July, I usually need to replace an annual or two that are either not performing as expected or can’t take the heat and are ready to get out of the garden. I almost always look to ornamental peppers to fill their gaps. They are often coming into their glory when others are beginning to grow tired. This year, I will look for Midnight Fire ornamental pepper. It impressed me the first time I saw it at Ball Field Days last summer.
Its fruit emerges purple, turns orange and finally matures to bright red over seductive dark black foliage – the perfect colors to take summer containers into fall. Plants grow about a foot tall and wide. Grow them in full sun and well-drained soil or potting mix.
Petunia Headliner™ ‘Banana Cherry Swirl’
Who needs another petunia? Well, I didn’t think I did until I saw this one. Petunia Headliner™ ‘Banana Cherry Swirl’ is an eye-catching new cultivar that grows up to 16 inches tall and 30 inches wide. It has a very unique pattern of colors. Soft yellow centers stretch in thin strokes of color through the centers of creamy white petals. Each petal is also edged with irregular, reddish-purple margins. The flowers may be difficult to describe but they are easy to love.
Like other petunias, plant them in lots of sunshine and well-drained soil or potting mix. Deadheading will keep plants looking neater and encourage more blooms.
I can imagine this petunia planted by itself in a purple pot, (Y’all know how I love my purple pots!) but it would also be lovely planted with a soft yellow-flowering lantana, a purple-flowering Angelonia, and Coleus ‘Redhead’.
Senecio ‘Angel Wings’
When I saw Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ at Cultivate ’17, it headed straight to the top of my Plants for Containers list. Large, velvety, silver leaves beckon fingers to caress them. Growing a foot or so tall, it is the perfect size for containers.
I imagine it in a pot with Hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor’ for height; Salvia ‘Victoria Blue’ and orange-flowering zinnias in the mid-ground; Ageratum ‘Blue Hawaii’ at the front; and another new plant for 2018, Alternanthera ‘Purple Prince’, trailing over the edge. Wowzer!
It would also be enchanting in a container for folks who view their plants in the evening. Plant it with annuals blooming with white, soft yellow and baby blue flowers in a glow-in-the-dark combo.
These are just a smattering of the fun new annuals coming to your local garden centers this spring. Did any make it on your must-have plant list? Have you found others that you simply must grow? Please share them – I wouldn’t want to miss out!
Garden with me!