I recently had the privilege of attending "Cultivate" (an industry show in Columbus, Ohio) and visiting Ball Field Day (West Chicago, Il.). These are top venues to see what's new and trending in annuals. Here are some of the plant fashions that caught my eye.
Petunia and Callibrachoa ("callies") breeding continues to give us new forms, sizes and colors. Perfect example - PanAmerican's Sophistica Lime Green is just an extraordinary color! If Hydrangea paniculata 'Little Lime' sales are any indicator of lime's popularity then many people will be swooning over this gorgeous petunia of similar coloration.
Instant combinations simplify creating stunning containers and hanging baskets. Hundreds of combinations have been pre-designed for you. For example, "callies" of different colors OR different annuals of the same, but harmonious, color families are pre-planted together. You buy the combos in 6" (or larger) pots early in the season and "drop" them into your decorative container. Voila! If you consider yourself to be color-challenged a designer look is finger snapping easy with "instant combos".
Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon) has been at the top of my favorite annuals list for a long time. I love its: heat tolerance, height, range of wonderful colors and, of course, the flower longevity. Each bloom spike literally lasts for weeks. There are many different series out there, but I was knocked out by BallFloraPlant's Archangel Cherry Red. Killer.
Canna is a plant I remember from my grandfather's garden. Well, cannas are ba-a-a-c-c-c-k and better than ever. They're easy, forgiving of neglect, although they really show off when kept moist. Cannas make a bold statement with their huge leaves (green or bronze options) and big sassy flowers. They endear themselves to novice and veteran gardeners alike by flourishing in the most intense heat. Now, instead of planting big tubers there are new series being grown from seed which means you get knockout effect with easy planting of 4" or 6" pots. Cool!
Begonia diversity is astonishing. With Impatiens Downy Mildew still a raging reality any annual with shade tolerance (or preference) is in big demand. So, hybridizers have been busybusybusy creating begonias with results that we can all enjoy in our gardens.
Coleus, coleus everywhere at both venues. While they thrive in partial shade breeders are succeeding with more sun tolerance. Versatile in pots or beds there's a coleus for everyone now. Coleus are for foliage so just keep those flower buds pinched off before they open and drop little blue flowers around!
Be a garden fashionista next spring and try what's new. Family and friends will definitely notice your new garden look. Honest, they will.