Best New Annuals for 2017
By: Rob Sproule
The thrill of getting our hands dirty is universal, but the ways we do it often change with the seasons. Like fashion, new annuals emerge every spring to liven up our containers. Let’s take a look at my top 5 pick…
” The earth laughs in flowers.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
– Alocasia Stingray
– Calibracoa Morning Star
– Prince Tut Grass
– Confetti Garden – Peppermint Candy
– Crazytunia Nightsky
In the gardening world, annuals are big business. They’re the colour powerhouses of the yard. The trendiest annuals are high fashion; eye-catching specimens in containers in that stick out from all the rest. Every year, hundreds of new annuals hit the market. It’s my job to look past the glossy magazine ads and find out which ones have the best combination of beauty and performance in our uniquely Albertan climate. So without further ado, here’s my top 5 for 2017:
“˜Superbells’ Morning Star:
You’ve probably heard me gushing about Calibrachoa before. This genus, very closely related to Petunias and hailing from southern South America, was largely ignored until it was hybridized into “Million Bells.” “Superbells”, along with dozens of other brand names and over 100 colours, followed. Imagine a petunia. Now imagine if that petunia had smaller flowers, bloomed all the time without deadheading, wasn’t as fussy about watering, and didn’t sticky leaves. That’s a calibrachoa. The “Star” series is the latest of stunning bi-colours from Proven Winners. It will bloom all season and it’s garden performance is off the charts.
“˜Prince Tut’ Grass:
By now you’ve probably heard of the “˜Tut’ series of papyrus grass for containers. It’s vertical, reed-like lines and whorling heads bring intense architectural appeal. But while the “˜King Tut’ is too large for most containers (being over 4′ high), and “˜Baby Tut’ is more of a stuffer at less than 1′ high, the new “˜Prince Tut’ is finally in the happy middle. At 2′ high, it’s an architectural centerpiece that fits the scale of most medium to large containers. It loves full sun and water (it’s originally a Middle-Eastern swamp plant), so plant with other water lovers like Bacopa and Alocasia.
Confetti Garden: “˜Peppermint Candy’:
It’s Canada’s year, and expect to see red and white everywhere as we celebrate our 150th. Confetti Gardens are brilliant little combos of plants, chosen for colour design and mutual growth habit, that you can plunk into a larger container for a low cost, professionally designed container garden. “˜Peppermint Candy’ combines red and white bicolour petunias, red verbena, and white calibrachoa, is a well-balanced celebration of Canadiana in the garden. Give it lots of sun, water, and ample fertilizer (weekly at least). The plants should grow well together, but if one of them gets out of hand, pinch it back to let the others fill in.
If you’re looking to start conversations, this one is for you. Also known as Elephant Ear’s, Alocasia boast big, lush leaves that point upward and outward, turning any container they’re planted in into a dramatic tropical statement. “˜Stingray’s’ unique feature is the whiptail end of it’s leaves. Resembling, you guessed it, a stingray, it grows quickly in a sunny spot (sheltered from the afternoon sun, if possible). It wants to be moist but well drained, and in the fall you can cut it back to the root and keep it dry until the next spring.
Petunias have been around for so long that truly new colours are rare. “˜Nightsky’ is a mottled colour pattern resembling thick stars on a velvet blue canvas. It’s one of the most distinctive petunias I’ve seen in a long time. Workhorses in containers, petunias quickly into mounds of broad, colourful flowers. Dead-head the spent blooms to keep the show going. They’re best grown in containers where their roots can be warm, and they hate drying out.