• Sandi Manna

Picking The Best Annuals To Plant This Summer

Have you ever heard the saying "dress to impress"?

If course you have, and that's exactly what you do when you host an event. Not that you necessarily dress to the nines, but you're neat and well presented to be sure.

You've planned everything perfectly to ensure your guests enjoy themselves.

But what about your landscape? Are your beds weeded and mulched? Are your beds filled with color?

That's right, as we head into the warmer weather of summer and get ready to entertain, host BBQs, holiday parties, don't forget about your landscape! Your guests are going to be spending a lot of time outside so don't forget to set the stage for the perfect party by getting your garden ready!

Summer means your landscape is going to be on full display so let's talk about getting your garden ready for it's season in the spotlight! With a little planning, your garden is sure to impress family and friends.

Think of planting annuals as celebrating the seasons. They are the best way to ensure your garden is filled with color every season, and it keeps your garden fresh and interesting every year. With so many annuals to choose from, you can be sure you have an exciting, vibrant look every year, and your friends and neighbors will be eager to see what you've done this year!

You can choose exciting combinations of colors, along with textures that differ in size and shape. No matter what you choose, annuals only last one growing season so it's important to set them up for success. Here's a list of some of the best summer annuals you can select this summer to have your landscape be the envy of the neighborhood and earn tons of compliments from your family and friends.

Everyone is familiar with impatiens, petunias and marigolds. While there's nothing wrong with these favorites that have stood the test of time, we like to turn a few heads by incorporating some lesser known annuals that we think have a bit more pizazz.

For big, bold foliage try Ensete. I like Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii'. This Ethiopian native creates a tropical feel. It's stunning with it's red coloration, wide leaves, and thick trunk. This makes a fabulous summer landscape specimen.

I love Lantana. The bandana series are well branched with a nice, mounding, uniform habit. Nicely, this series offers larger flowers than traditional lantana varieties, and this series comes in a variety of eye catching colors.

Osteospermum 4D

These Daisy-like flowers are multi-dimensional with long petals forming the outside and shorter, thicker petals in the center, creating that dimensions, pom-pom look. These large 2" blooms are great for hanging baskets, containers, and borders.

Marguerite Daisies

Ever blooming blossoms that look like butter melting in the sunshine. Heat tolerant, these cheerful daisies look great in a container or mixed in a bed.

For vertical accent, try the Cordyline series. These Palm lilies come in a rich dark red or a variegated selection. Both grow 2-3' tall in containers.

Agastache or Anisse Hyssop is another great vertical accent, especially in containers. My favorite collection is the Nectar series.

These colorful spikes are packed with dense, nectar-filled tubular blossoms that have a long bloom season from summer to fall. This is a compact series making it a perfect container plant! In addition, it's sure to attract pollinators! Imagine sitting out and having a hummingbird zip by, or watching butterflies flit from flower to flower

Check out our blog on attracting pollinators.

I also love time tested Dahlia's. I can remember my grandmother planting dahlias every year when I was a little girl. Dazzling Dahlia's come on a wide variety of colors and sizes. I am particularly fond of the festive ' Starsister Crimson Picotee' or the tropical colors of 'Dalaya Shari'.

For a delicate accent, I like Euphorbia 'Breathless White'. This Spurge has delicate green leaves and is covered with dainty white flowers and looks delicately frosted in summer.

Canna Lily are beacons of tropical paradise. With enormous leaves and colorful stalks that shoot skyward before blooming, Canna Lillies display floral fireworks all summer in any sunny spot. Many foliage options are available from a rich green, variegated, burgundy-purple and even chocolate brown. Great flowers for big impact!

Annual Foxglove. Digiplexis 'Illumination Flame'. Dense spikes of brilliant red flowers with warm Orange-yellow throats. These area show-stoppers! Tall stems of 36" long blooming flowers, a no-brainer if you want season long impact! I incorporated them into some containers along a pool patio in Madison last year. Our client had a summer party and we got a lot of compliments on them.

Gomphrena 'Pink Zazzle'. With it's large, bright magenta-pink flowers, it sure does dazzle!

These magenta globe amaranth are accented with hints of gold at the tips. Fuzzy stems and foliage, this flower is just 8"-16" tall and is a perfect choice for a thriller in a container or the landscape.

Heliotrope. This luscious purple beauty commands a location where it's delicious fragrance can be appreciated. Lovely deep violet flowers with a stunning vanilla-like fragrance accented by deeply ribbed, deep green foliage. Just 15"-18" tall, I love to plant this near a seating area in containers around a patio or up on a deck.

Pentas, or Egyptian Stars are sun-loving, heat tolerant beauties that offer fabulous large clusters of star-shaped flowers above rich green foliage. They have a nice, dense, uniform habit that make them great for use in containers and beds.

Portulaca is an often under-utiluzed annual. The Happy Hour series has eye catching, large semi-double to double flowers. A variety of warm colors in reds, oranges and yellows flower above well-branched, succulent looking foliage. Very heat and drought tolerant. We used this series last year in the front border of a Branford garden and the effect was stunning.

With this list you can't go wrong. Incorporating these annuals into containers, beds and borders, your landscape will be wearing it's summer best!

If you already have enough to do and don't have time to plant annuals, we are happy to plant your summer garden for you with the finest selection of annuals.

All images courtesy of Sunny Border Nurseries

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