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For months we have been wanting, waiting and willing to plant but now the time has finally come to put the trowel into the soil and get some flowers growing. For many there is confusion over the different types of flowering plants, what gets planted when and where, so now is as a good of a time as any to answer those questions.
First, perennials are plants that come back every year. They appear in the spring, do their thing in the summer and sleep all winter long. There are many perennial plants that act very differently in your garden. There are evergreen perennials like Lavender, short lived like Delphinium and long lived perennials like Baptisia and Peonies. The benefit to perennials is that they return year after year while their main drawback is that they typically have a limited bloom time.
Annual plants grow, bloom and die all in one season. The benefit of annuals is that they bloom constantly, providing the most flowering of all types of plants. The limitation is that they do not return for another season of growth. Many gardeners are finding that annuals are less work than perennials and provide the color that makes a landscape something special.
Tropicals are plants native to climates surrounding the equator where temperatures remain warm year-round. Tropical plants have become very popular for several reasons; there are many that perform in very hot and dry conditions, the colors from many blooming tropicals are brilliant and these plants bring a tropical look to our local gardens and patios. Larger plants are available to make a dramatic statement when and where it may be needed. Many tropicals can be wintered indoors and returned outside once the spring weather returns.
So you are thinking “maybe I can use some annuals or tropicals to spark my landscape this year” but wonder “what should I plant?”
The selections can be daunting but let me point out some of the toughest, most durable and highest performing annuals and tropicals that are sure to make a splash in your gardens.
Super Sun-Patiens are old-fashioned New Guinea Impatiens on steroids. Thriving in sunny or partly shaded locations these plants are blooming machines available in a range of colors. Give them plenty of space (at least 18” apart) so they don’t crowd each other out.
Dragon Wing Begonias have become a favorite for their durability and range of applications. Sun, shade, in pots or in the ground, hanging baskets, by themselves or in combinations, Dragon Wings do a great job.
Wave/Super Petunias are the #1 landscaping annual flower due to their vigor and blooming power. Because they do not produce seeds like old-fashioned petunias there is never a need to trim off dead flowers to keep them blooming. Super Petunias are similar to all heavy blooming plants in that they benefit from liberal applications of plant food in order to keep them at optimal performance.
Dipladenia Stars and Stripes is a tropical plant that thrives in hot and sunny locations. Stars and Stripes has vivid red flowers striped white and is gaining in popularity as are the red and pink Dipladenia varieties. In pots, in beds or hanging baskets, Dipladenia is sure to please.
The many Coleus selections are by no means new to the scene but still don’t have the degree of appreciation they deserve. This is mostly due to the fact that their real colors don’t become evident until well into the summer growing season. Best in some sun but tolerating shade, Coleus is great in beds, pots and especially in combination plantings.
Anisodontea Slighty Strawberry is an upright growing annual with bold, pink flowers up and down the entire plant. Excellent as a centerpiece in sun container plantings, Slightly Strawberry is a stunning focal point for combination container planting. Commonly referred to as annual Hollyhock, you can also train this plant into an all summer long, blooming tree.
Finally, for the shady garden, how about something old but not forgotten. Maidenhair Fern is the most delicate and wispy of ferns with foliage that forms a sea foam-like affect above the surrounding soil. In pots, baskets or in garden beds Maidenhair Fern is the perfect choice for that shady corner.
Indeed, the time to plant flowers is upon us having many of you out and about selecting the best, the new and exciting plants to decorate your yards and gardens. There are so many great plants to choose from, it’s way to hard to pick a favorite, I hope this year’s garden is your best ever.