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Annual Flowers

Sharon Bale and Richard Durham, Extension Specialists in Horticulture

Annual flowers are generally thought of as plants that complete their life cycle during one growing season and then die. This definition is correct for some plants but is not completely true for many others. Plants listed in this publication fall into several different categories and should be thought of as plants that can be grown as annuals in Kentucky.

The United States is divided into hardiness zones. Kentucky is in Zone 6. Hardiness zones are determined by the mean low temperature during the year. A plant that is hardy or perennial in Zone 7 or 8, south of Kentucky, would be considered an annual in Kentucky. Hardiness zones or climate variations greatly affect a plant’s performance. People who have lived in other parts of the country are often disappointed by a favorite flower’s performance in Kentucky or surprised by how well other flowers perform.

This publication shows how plants grown as annuals at the University of Kentucky—Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Arboretum have performed. It is not necessarily a list of recommended annuals.

Explanation of Terms

The publication lists several categories.

Scientific and Common Names—The scientific name is the genus and specie of the plant. Gardeners seeking more information about a specific plant will find this scientific name helpful. Common names may vary from region to region and can be quite confusing. Often the same common name is given to a different plant in another area.

Exposure—Refers to light conditions best suited to the listed plant.

Color—Assorted colors indicate a wide variety, although all colors may not be available.

Height—This measure is a general approximation. Exposure, soil conditions, soil fertility, and general garden maintenance can affect it. Also, in some cases individual cultivars vary from the general height description.

Season—Annual flowers are no different from vegetables. Cool-season flowers perform best when night temperatures are cool. These should be considered best suited for spring and fall flower gardens. Many will tolerate some frost. Warm-season annuals should not be planted until after all danger of frost has passed. When night temperatures drop in the fall, these plants often produce smaller and fewer blooms and will not tolerate frost.

Diseases and Pests—Insect or disease problems that occur frequently are listed. Even though some plants are not bothered frequently by a disease or pest problem, you should still examine them frequently just in case.

Uses—Those listed are just possible uses and by no means the only way these plants can be used effectively. In this case, bedding refers to a mass planting.

Performance—This category provides some general tips on the plant’s performance and general maintenance that may encourage plant vigor. Some terms used are:

Sowing Information—Sowing outside refers to direct seeding in the garden. Sowing inside refers to starting plants indoors and planting them outside as transplants. Although direct seeding may be possible, the quickest bloom display and greatest plant vigor are obtained by planting transplants.

Days to Germination—These numbers are approximate and should be used as a guideline. For example, if you sow seeds that generally take 7 days to germinate and 14 days have passed without germination, you have a good indication that a problem exists. Either the seed is not viable, or a disease or some other cultural problem has affected germination. Comments concerning germination are simply some of our observations.

When sowing seed, be sure to read directions on the seed package. In some cases, covering or not covering the seed can be extremely important. Always use some type of sterile growing medium to start seeds indoors. This medium helps reduce but not eliminate the possibilities of disease problems such as damping-off.

Annuals for Sun and Shade

Name

Flower Color

Height

Exposure

Pests

Uses

Propagation

Abelmoschus moscheutos
Abelmoschus

pink, red

10-12"

sun

few

bedding

seed

The individual blooms last only one day, but numerous buds are produced. May self-sow but is not invasive.

Ageratum houstonianum
Ageratum,
Floss Flower

blue, pink, white

8-10"

sun,

semi-shade

few

bedding, cut

seed

During periods of extreme heat, the plant may check and cease to produce new buds. When the temperatures change, the plant will resume blooming. Plant may require deadheading to maintain habit. ‘Blue Horizon’ is 18-24" tall and can be used as a cut flower.

Alcea rosea
Hollyhock

various

3-7'

sun

rust, powdery mildew

border, cut

seed

Newer cultivars are less susceptible to rust. Plants are mostly biennial but newer cultivars flower the first season. May reseed. Single- and double-bloom forms are available.

Alternanthera ficoidea
Joseph’s Coat

foliage, various colors

6-10"

sun

few

border, edging

cuttings

This and related species produce a wide variety of foliage color. Often used as an edging plant. Will tolerate shearing for a formal effect.

Argyranthemum frutescens
Marguerite Daisy

white, yellow, pink

10-12"

sun

few

bedding, cut

cuttings

Plants are not heat-tolerant and do not provide an extended show. Cobbity Daisies are hybrids that offer single- and double-bloom forms. Their performance is similar.

Asclepias curassavica
Blood Flower

red/yellow

3'

sun

aphids

bedding

seed

Considered a hardy annual and will reseed. Produces a nice display of flowers from early summer until frost. Typical milkweed seed pods must be removed if this plant needs to be contained. Attractive to butterflies.

Antirrhinum majus
(cool season)
Snapdragon

various colors

6-36"

sun

aphids, mites

bedding, cut

seed

The height depends on the particular cultivar. There are two flower forms available. May die back during the summer due to heat stress.

Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum
Fibrous Begonia

white, pink, red

6-14"

sun to shade

few

bedding

seed

Available with bronze or green foliage. An excellent low-maintenance plant. It will withstand heat and drought and perform very well in full sun locations. Seed is small and somewhat difficult to germinate. Due to this and the long production time necessary in commercial greenhouses, home gardeners are advised not to try to start their own seedlings.

Brassica oleracea
(cool season)
(Acephala Group and Capitata Group)
Ornamental Kale and Cabbage

gray and green foliage, variegated with pink and yellow

12-18"

sun

cabbage looper, aphids

bedding

seed

Performs best in the fall. Will often last until after Thanksgiving. Plant is edible and the foliage can be used in salads. Looper control will be necessary to maintain appearance.

Browallia speciosa major
Browallia

blue, white

10-14"

sun, semi-shade

mites

bedding, container

seed

Often does not perform well in Kentucky.

Calendula officinalis (cool season)
Pot Marigold

yellow, orange

8-14"

sun

few

bedding, cut

seed

Plant becomes very unsightly during the heat of the summer and is often best removed. Flowers have been used to flavor soups and stews. Produces a profuse number of blooms; cutting back may help to improve vigor.

Calibrachoa x hybrida
Trailing Petunia

various

3-6"

sun

few

bedding, container

cuttings

These small, petunia-like flowers are quite attractive and produce a continuous show. Most, if not all, of the hybrid cultivars available are patented plants. Propagation for resale is prohibited.

Callistephus chinensis
China Aster

various

8-24"

sun, semi-shade

aster yellows

bedding, cut

seed

For continuous show, succession planting is necessary. Due to disease problems, plant should not be located in the same area each season.

Capsicum annuum
Ornamental Pepper

flowers inconspicuous; red, cream, purple, orange fruit; all turn red in late summer

8-24"

sun

few

bedding

seed

Peppers are edible but extremely hot. Not as many cultivars available as previously seen in the trade. Very low-maintenance, producing excellent display late in the season. AAS 2002 Winner Ornamental Pepper ‘Chilly Chili’ has a mild flavor.

Catharanthus roseus
Vinca, Periwinkle

rose, pink, white

12-14"

sun

few

bedding

seed

An excellent low-maintenance annual. Has continuous display until late summer or early fall, when the bloom size and number begin to decrease.

Celosia argentea var. cristata
Cockscomb

various

8-48"

sun

few

bedding, cut, dried

seed

Celosia are divided into three distinct groups: Plumosa, Cristata, and Spicata. The plumed forms are attractive bedding plants and can also be used as cut flowers. The Cristata group, or crested form, can be useful as a bedding plant. The Spicata Group, or wheat celosia, is generally taller than the others and produces long, slender, spiky blooms. ‘Flamingo Feather’ is an example of this group. All types will dry and hold their color if picked before they reach their prime. Tend to be unsightly if allowed to set seed.

Centaurea cyanus
Bachelor Button, Cornflower

various

12-24"

sun

few

cut

seed, direct seed in garden

Seed can be sown directly in the garden after danger of frost. Blue is the most common color, but several other colors are available. Plants tend to look ragged. Harvest clumps of stems and the unopened buds will open in the vase. Best kept in the cut-flower garden.

Cleome hasslerana
Cleome Spider Flower

pink, white

36-58"

sun

few

border, cut

seed

The plant will reseed and may become invasive. Stems have spines. A nice, old-fashioned plant for the back of the border. Requires no maintenance other than trying to reduce the number of seedlings the next year. ‘Sparkler Blush’, AAS Winner for 2002, is more compact, maintaining an even habit around 3' tall. Related species C. rosea var. bicolor is a much smaller form and has no spines on the stems. ‘Linde Armstrong’ is an excellent choice for the garden.

Coleus x hybridus
Coleus

foliage various colors

9-18"

shade, semi-shade, sun

few

bedding

seed, cuttings

Choices include a variety of foliage forms and color combinations. Remove blooms to maintain vigor of the plant. Other than removal of the blooms of some cultivars, the plants are low-maintenance. New sun-tolerant cultivars are available in numerous color combinations. Many of these are patented.

Consolida sp.
Larkspur

pink, lavender, purple

3-4'

sun

fungal diseases

border, cut

seed

Plants do best in cooler climates but will establish in our area. Will not tolerate heavy, wet soils. Once plants are established, they will readily reseed in the area. Direct seeding in the garden may be preferable.

Cosmos bipinnatus
Cosmos

pink, magenta, white

12-48"

sun

few

border, bedding, cut

seed

Taller cultivars may require staking. Shorter cultivars such as ‘Sonata’ may not be as vigorous as the taller types. Can be used as a cut flower.

Cosmos sulphureus
Cosmos

red, orange, yellow

12-24"

sun

few

bedding

seed

‘Diablo’, an older cultivar, is still one of the best performers in our area. Some of the more compact types do not hold up all season. Seed heads should be removed for best display.

Cuphea hyssopifolia
Mexican Heather

purple, white

8-14"

sun

few

edging, bedding

seed, cuttings

A very low-maintenance plant. Plants are compact and uniform and provide an excellent display until frost.

Dahlia (hybrids)
Bedding Dahlia

various

14-24"

sun

mites

bedding

seed

Plants come readily from seed; therefore, there is no need to dig and store the small tubers that are produced. Some plants have a short day response and may not produce consistent bloom. Plants are available with green or bronze foliage.

Datura metel
Horn of Plenty

white, yellow, purple

3'

sun

few

bedding, container

seed

All parts of plant are poisonous. The large, showy, trumpet-shaped flowers are quite attractive and fragrant. Plants bloom from midsummer until frost. Very hardy annual and can be invasive.

Dianthus chinensis
(cool season)
China Pinks

various

6-12"

sun, semi-shade

mites

bedding, edging

seed

Plants may be perennial in this area. Winter conditions will determine hardiness. Plants tend to “burn out” during the summer and become unsightly. Cutting back helps to promote vigor.

Emilia coccinea
Tassel Flower

orange, red

2-3'

sun

few

bedding, cut

seed

Not that well-known, but a nice addition to the cut flower garden. Plant habit is very open. Blooms are a colorful substitute for Baby’s Breath in arrangements. Readily self-sows.

Eschscholzia californica (cool season)
California Poppy

yellow, pink

8-12"

sun

few

bedding

seed

Plants quickly decline in hot weather. Very short-term display.

Eustoma grandiflora
Lisianthus

purple, white, pink, bicolor

6-8", 2-3'

sun

few

bedding, cut

seed

Available in two habits: short for bedding purposes and tall for bedding or cut. These seem to perform exceedingly well or exceedingly poorly. Soils must be well-drained. Flowers can be easily rain-damaged. Seed is small, somewhat difficult to germinate, and extremely slow-growing, so gardeners should purchase these plants already started. Cut flowers have a long vase life.

Gaillardia pulchella
Gaillardia, Blanket Flower

orange, yellow

14-18"

sun

few

bedding, cut

seed

May reseed. Blooms for an extended period. Declining blooms should be removed to maintain vigor.

Gazania rigens
Gazania

various

6-10"

sun

few

bedding

seed

Drought-tolerant. Distinct markings on the blooms produce a striking effect when viewed at close range. Blooms tend to close when light intensity is reduced.

Gerbera jamesonii
Gerbera, Transvaal Daisy

various

8-24"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, cut

seed

Plants produce sporadic bloom. May not produce an extensive display as a bedding plant. Attractive cut flowers.

Gomphrena globosa
Globe Amaranth

purple, orange, lavender, white

12-48"

sun

few

bedding, border, cut, dried

seed

The clover-like blooms will dry and retain their color. Plants require little maintenance. ‘Lavender Lady’ and ‘Strawberry Fields’ are tall and best used in the border. ‘Buddy’ is short and compact. To dry, choose blooms that are just reaching their prime.

Helianthus annuus
Sunflower

orange, yellow

2-14'

sun

powdery mildew

border, cut

seed

Shorter types are useful as border plants in the garden. They produce blooms for most of the season, but often decline after peak bloom. Powdery mildew can cause an unsightly problem.

Helichrysum bracteatum
Strawflower

various

8-48"

sun

few

border, cut, dried

seed

Foliage can be unsightly and ragged. Generally grown as a cut or dried flower.

Heliotropium arborescens
Heliotrope

blue, white

12-24"

sun

few

bedding, container

seed, cuttings

Plants do not have a consistent display of blooms. Blooms are fragrant and sometimes referred to as Summer Lilac.

Hypoestes phyllostachya
Polka-Dot Plant

foliage

(white or pink markings)

18-24"

sun, semi-shade

few 

border, bedding

seed, cuttings

Flowers are inconspicuous. Plants are uniform and require little maintenance. During periods of stress in full sun, the foliage may curl. When weather conditions change, this problem will disappear.

Impatiens balsamina
Touch-Me-Not

various

12-18"

sun, semi-shade

few

border, bedding

seed

Blooms are generally double and in the axil of the foliage. May freely reseed and can become invasive. Common name comes from the seed pods that spring open when ripe.

Impatiens wallerana
Impatiens, Sultana

various

12-24"

shade, semi-shade, sun

mites

border, bedding

seed

Excellent low-maintenance plant that produces blooms until frost. Needs a moist soil for best performance.

Ipomoea alba
Moon Vine

white

vine

sun

few

annual screen

seed

Large, white blooms open late in the afternoon or early evening. Does not readily self-sow.

Ipomoea tricolor
Morning Glory

various

vine

sun

few

annual screen

seed

Vigorous plants that do provide a show early in the day. Readily self-sows and can become an invasive weed.

Lablab purpureus
Hyacinth Bean

lavender

vine

sun

few

annual screen, edible bean

seed

Vigorous plants producing numerous flower stems up to 28" in length. Blooms are followed by purple beans that are also attractive. Hyacinth Beans are an oriental vegetable that should be harvested for culinary purposes before beans fill in the pods.

Lantana camara
Lantana

yellow, orange

24-36"

sun

white fly

border, bedding

seed, cuttings

Generally very low-maintenance. Can be trained into a tree form. Related species are L. montevidensis, a trailing form, and L. tricolor, with distinct fruit form. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Remove fruit to avoid an attraction for children.

Lathyrus odoratus
(cool season)
Annual Sweet Pea

various

12-18"

sun, semi-shade

few, powdery mildew

bedding, cut

seed

Does not perform well in this area. Plants do not tolerate the heat and generally show little vigor.

Limonium sinuatum
Statice

various

18-24"

sun

few

border, cut, dried

seed

Plants will stunt if left in the flat too long. Blooms can be harvested all season long.

Lobelia erinus
Edging Lobelia

violet, blue

8-12"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, edging, container

seed

Tends to suffer in the heat.

Lobularia maritima
(cool season)
Sweet Alyssum

pink, white

4-6"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, edging

seed

Declines rapidly during hot weather. Remove declining blooms and seed set to promote vigor. May recover vigor during cooler weather in the fall.

Melampodium paludosum
Melampodium

yellow

24-36"

sun, semi-shade

powdery mildew

bedding, border

seed

Produces yellow, daisy-type blooms all season. Very low-maintenance. Powdery mildew may be a problem late in the season. Plants will reseed.

Mirabilis jalapa
Four O’clock

various

2-4'

sun, light shade

few, powdery mildew

bedding

seed

Small blooms open late in the afternoon. Seeds are very hardy and this plant can become an invasive weed that is difficult to eliminate from the garden.

Nicotiana alata
Flowering Tobacco

various

14-36"

sun

generally few

bedding

seed

Low-maintenance, producing a continuous display until the temperatures get cooler in late summer. May be evening-fragrant. Can be bothered by the same pest and disease problems associated with burley tobacco.

Nierembergia hippomanica
Cupflower

white, blue

8-10"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding

seed

The white ‘Mt. Blanc’ was a 1993 AAS winner. Plants start out with superior display but tend to burn out during extremely hot weather.

Nigella damascena
Love-in-a-Mist

blue, white

12-14"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, dried

seed

Blooms are not especially showy from a distance. Often grown to harvest the inflated seed pods for dried use. Readily self-sows and may be invasive.

Ocimum basilicum purpurascens
Ornamental Basil

purple foliage

18-24"

sun

few

bedding, border, culinary

seed

Flowers should be removed to maintain vigor of the plant. Foliage is very fragrant and can be used in the same manner as green basil. ‘Purple Ruffles’ has more ruffled foliage. ‘Dark Opal’ has foliage more typical of basil.

Pelargonium x hortorum
Geranium

various

12"-18"

sun, semi-shade

bacterial stem rot

bedding, border, container

seed, cuttings

Must be deadheaded to maintain vigor. If disease problems occur, geraniums should not be grown in the same location the next year.

Pentas lanceolata
Pentas

various

12-14"

sun

few

bedding, container

seed, cuttings

Various hybrids are available. Deadheading is essential to maintain vigor. Height depends on individual cultivars.

Petunia x hybrida
Petunia

various

12-16"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, container

seed

Short internode types do not get as leggy as other types. Regular fertilization and adequate moisture will help maintain vigor. Will tolerate cooler temperatures than other tender annuals.

Phlox drummondii
Annual Phlox

various

6-10"

sun

powdery mildew

bedding, container

seed

Will not tolerate hot temperatures. Tends to burn out quickly in this area.

Portulaca grandiflora
Portulaca, Moss Rose

various

6-10"

sun

few

bedding, container

seed

May reseed. Heat- and drought-tolerant. Bloom colors are very bright. Begins to decline in late summer.

Ricinus communis
Castor Bean

bronze, green foliage

6-12'

sun

few

back of border, accent

seed

Source of castor oil. Ricin, present in the plant, is >extremely poisonous. The seeds contain a high concentration of ricin. Soaking the seeds overnight improves germination. A very effective accent plant for the effect of the foliage. May self-sow.

Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan

yellow, bronze

2-3'

sun

fungal problems

bedding, cut

seed

‘Indian Summer’ is an excellent cultivar. Whether by reseeding or marginally hardy, this plant may persist in the garden. Cutting flowers helps to maintain vigor.

Sanvitalia procumbens
Creeping Zinnia

yellow

4-8"

sun

few

bedding, container

seed

Low habit creates a nice annual groundcover. Vigorous growth in the spring. May be stunted by extreme heat but will rebloom in fall.

Salvia farinacea
Mealycup Sage

blue, white

18-24"

sun

few

bedding, dried

seed

May reseed. Low-maintenance plants that require little attention during the season. Florets drop, but calyxes remain and will dry and keep their color.

Salvia splendens
Scarlet Sage

red, white, purple, salmon

12-18"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding

seed

In full sun, plants require frequent maintenance to remove declining blooms. In semi-shade, the blooms will hold their color longer and require less maintenance.

Senecia cineraria
Dusty Miller

gray foliage

12-16"

sun

few

bedding, container

seed

Commonly used as an edging plant. Cultivars differ in foliage texture from very coarse to deeply cut.

Tagetes erecta,
Tagetes patula
Marigold

orange, yellow, bronze

8-36"

sun

mites

bedding, cut

seed

Easily produce from seed. Wide variation in heights. Different bloom forms are available. May not produce continuous bloom. Foliage is very fragrant. Some deadheading is necessary to maintain appearance.

Tithonia rotundifolia
Mexican Sunflower

orange, yellow

4-6'

sun

mites, thrips, aphids, powdery mildew

back of border, annual hedge

seed

Older cultivars are tall and may require support. Bloom midsummer until fall, but insect problems may leave the plants unsightly. ‘Fiesta del Sol’, 2000 AAS winner, is dwarf and compact and is a better choice for the garden than older cultivars.

Torenia fournieri
Wishbone Flower

pink, purple, white

10-18"

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding

seed

Low-maintenance. Foliage tends to turn purple in full-sun locations. ‘Summer Wave’ tolerates heat better than other cultivars and is excellent for containers.

Tropaeolum majus
Nasturtium

orange, yellow

10-14"

sun

aphids

bedding, containers

seed

Blooms are often hidden by the foliage. Foliage and flowers are edible and have a peppery flavor.

Verbena x hybrida
Garden Verbena

various

8-14"

sun

mites

bedding, containers

seed

Do not bloom continuously. Cut back after first flush of bloom to promote rebloom. ‘Temari’ series plants do not require as much maintenance and are excellent choices. Related species V. canadensis cultivars such as ‘Homestead’ are also excellent for the garden and are short-lived perennials.

Viola x wittrockiana
(cool season)
Pansy

various

6-10"

sun

few

bedding, containers

seed

Best planted in the fall. Plants established in the fall will produce 2 to 3 times the number of blooms of spring-established pansies. Will decline rapidly during hot weather.

Zinnia angustifolia
(Syn. Z. linearis)
Narrow Leaf Zinnia

orange, yellow, white

12-15"

sun

few

bedding

seed

Very disease-resistant, low-maintenance plant that blooms continuously until frost. Excellent choice for the garden.

Zinnia elegans
Zinnia

various

6-48"

sun

powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot

bedding, cut

seed

Taller cut-and-come-again types are excellent cut flowers. More compact forms are recommended as bedding plants. These types tend to be disease-prone in this area. ‘Profusion’ series is more compact in habit and disease-resistant.

Zinnia haageana
Mexican Zinnia

gold, maroon bicolor

8-12"

sun

few

bedding, edging

seed

‘Old Mexico’ and ‘Persian Carpet’ are the main cultivars in trade. Plants are disease-resistant but require more maintenance than Z. angustifolia. Deadhead to maintain vigor.

Speciality Plants for Containers

Container gardening can mean anything from a 6-inch clay pot to a concrete planter 6 feet in diameter. Container gardening requires some special care. Soil mixes should provide adequate drainage. Using “good” garden soil in a container is not recommended, as it will compact and will not drain well enough. Watering is absolutely a must. Depending on the plants, the size of container, and the weather, containers may need to be watered once or twice a day.

Frequent watering will leach fertilizer from the container. Containers will need additional fertilization throughout the growing season to maintain vigor. Generally speaking, the larger the container, the easier it is to maintain.

The following plants are referred to as speciality plants because they are generally only available in larger containers than those used for bedding plants. They also generally cost more than bedding plants. Standards are plants that have been trained into a tree-like form.

Speciality Plants for Containers

Name

Flower Color

Height

Exposure

Pests

Uses

Propagation

Abutilon x hybridum
Flowering Maple

various

1-3'

sun

few

hanging baskets, containers

seed, cuttings

Cultivars with variegated foliage are available. Plants generally have pendulous blooms that are more visible when plants are grown in hanging baskets. Newer cultivars have more outward-facing blooms and are excellent in containers. Low-maintenance.

Acalypha hispida
Chenille Plant

red

12-16"

sun, semi-shade

few

hanging baskets, containers

cuttings

Drooping tassel-like blooms are attractive in hanging baskets and are a showy addition to mixed containers. Will perform well as a bedding plant, but would be an expensive addition to the garden if used in this way.

Acalphya wilkesiana
Copperleaf

copper, bronze

foliage

3-4'

sun

few

container, bedding

cuttings

Flowers are produced but not as showy as A. hispida. Plants are vigorous and can be used as bedding or accent plants in the garden. Sometimes maintained as an interior plant where high light conditions exist.

Allamanda cathartica
Golden Trumpet

yellow

vine

sun

aphids, mealybugs

containers

cuttings

This vigorous tropical vine is excellent as a single staked plant or as an addition to a mixed container. Fertilize regularly and keep evenly moist. Plants must reach a certain maturity to bloom. The larger the plant purchased, the sooner the bloom display begins. Plants are fairly expensive but provide an excellent show. Plants may be overwintered inside if the right conditions exist. If planted in the ground, lift and pot before a hard freeze. Providing the container is not too large, plants grown in containers simply can be moved inside. Cut the plants back and provide as much light as possible. Plants have few pests outdoors, but once they are inside, mealybugs and aphids may become a problem.

Alocasia macrorrhiza
Elephant Ear

foliage, green

4-5'

sun, semi-shade

few

specimen, container

division

Large, showy foliage. A wonderful accent plant for the garden or container. Fleshy rhizome should be lifted in the fall and stored over winter. Various cultivars are available, some with variegated or purple foliage.

Alternanthera dentata
Calico Plant

foliage, purple

1-3'

sun, semi-shade

few

container, hanging basket

cuttings

Several cultivars are available. ‘Ruby’ (more correctly, ‘Rubiginosa’) is an excellent addition to a mixed container. Dark purple leaves provide an excellent contrast plant. Some stems are upright, while others are pendulous.

Angelonia angustifolia
Summer Snapdragon

blue, purple, pink

12-14"

sun

few

container, bedding

cuttings

Spiky blooms are a nice addition to mixed containers. Useful as a cut flower.

Asparagus densiflorus sprengeri
Asparagus Fern

green foliage

12-14"

sun

few

hanging basket, container

division

Drooping stems may be over 3' long. The fine texture of the foliage adds interest to a mixed container.

Begonia x argenteoguttata
Angel Wing Begonia

pink, red

2-3'

sun, semi-shade

few

bedding, container

cuttings, seed

Often grown as an interior foliage plant. New introductions such as ‘Dragon Wing’ are excellent plants for the garden or container and will tolerate full sun.

Bougainvilla glabra
Bougainvilla, Paper Flower

pink, red, purple

2-4"

sun

few

container, standard

cuttings

Grown for the colorful bracts rather than the flowers. Somewhat difficult to grow. Must be actively growing to produce flowers. Once in bloom, the flowers last for a considerable time. Cultivars with variegated foliage are available.

Brugmansia (var. sp. and hybrids)
Angel’s Trumpet

various

5-7'

sun

few

accent, container

cuttings, seed

Showy tropical plants for containers or accent plants in the garden. Large, pendulous, trumpet-shaped blooms are extremely showy in the garden. Plants need to be at least 3' tall before they begin flowering. Purchasing larger plants will extend the show in the garden. Without extremely high light conditions in the home, overwintering may be very difficult.

Calocasia esculenta
Taro

green to purple foliage

4-6'

sun

few

accent, container

division

Foliage contains oxalic acid which, if ingested, can cause breathing problems. Culture and use is similar to Alocasia.

Chlorophytum comosum
Spider Plant

green or variegated foliage

10-12"

sun, semi-shade

few

hanging basket, container

Plantlets form at the end of stolens.

Water high in fluoride may cause leaf margins to burn.

Duranta errecta
Duranta

white, blue

2-3'

sun

few

container

division

Generally bloom from midsummer until frost. Excellent addition to mixed containers.

Evolvulus pilosus
Evolvulus

blue

6-10"

sun, semi-shade

few

container, hanging basket

cuttings

‘Blue Daze’ is a common cultivar. Plants produce blooms all season, and the drooping habit makes this a natural for hanging baskets and mixed containers.

Fuchsia (hybrids)

various

10-12"

sun, semi-shade

whitefly

hanging baskets, or standard

cuttings

Flowers are so unique and beautiful that it is hard to resist purchasing these plants when seen in full bloom. Most fuchsias are the plants most quickly killed, even by experienced gardeners. Hot weather and allowing plants to dry out for even a short period of time are often the causes of their demise. Some fuchsias appear to be more heat-tolerant; the ‘Angel Earrings’ series is one example. A group of fuchsias known as the Triphylla hybrids are more heat-tolerant. ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’ is an example. This particular cultivar performs well in full sun.

Gardenia jasminoides
Gardenia

white

2-3' or standards

sun, semi-shade

few, white fly

container, tree forms

cuttings

It is hard to resist a gardenia when it is in bloom. The fragrance of the flowers is quite pleasant. Gardenias are demanding plants. Cool temperatures in the evening are necessary for bud formation. Proper watering and correct temperatures are necessary to prevent bud drop. If plants are moved outdoors in the summer, semi-shade during the warmest part of the day is probably best.

Gibasis pellucida
Tahitian Bridal Veil

white

trailing

sun, semi-shade

few

hanging baskets, containers

cuttings

Small, white flowers are not showy from a distance. This plant is generally used in interiors. Plants provide a nice, soft texture and drooping habit to mixed containers. Also has potential as a bedding or annual groundcover.

Helichrysum petiolare
Licorice Plant

gray, lime-green foliage

prostrate 2-3"

sun, semi-shade

few

Hanging basket, container

cuttings

Useful as a contrasting plant in containers. The cultivar ‘Limelight’ has lime-green foliage. Susceptible to root rot if containers do not drain well.

Ipomoea batata
Sweet Potato

chartreuse, purple foliage

6-10"

sun

flea beetles

bedding, hanging basket, containers

cuttings

Most cultivars are extremely vigorous. As a bedding plant, plants spaced 4' apart on center will have more than adequate room. Whether as bedding or container plants, all will produce tubers. Tubers are not especially desirable for eating purposes. Cultivars include: ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Blackie’, both with purple foliage; ‘Margarita’, chartreuse foliage; ‘Lady Fingers’, greenish-purple foliage; and ‘Pink Frost’, white, pink, and green foliage. All but ‘Pink Frost’ are extremely vigorous plants.

Mandevilla sanderi
Brazilian Jasmin

red

vine

sun

few

container

cuttings

‘Red Riding Hood’ is a common cultivar. Flowers are red with a yellow throat. Plants must reach a mature size before they bloom. The larger the plant purchased, the more quickly it will bloom. Once in bloom, plants will continuously bloom until cool weather. Plants can be grown in the ground or containers with some type of support, or they can be allowed to roam freely from the containers. Because the plants are fairly expensive, attempts can be made to overwinter them indoors (see Allamanda). Related species B. boliviensis has white flowers.

Mandevilla x amabilis
Mandevilla

pink

vine

sun

few

container, basket

cuttings

‘Alice DuPont’ has bright pink blooms and is a common cultivar. Foliage is distinct from other species and is very coarse in texture (see Mandevilla sanderi for general comments).

Nephrolepis exaltata
Boston Fern

green foliage

3-5'

shade, semi-shade, sun

few

hanging basket, container

division

Providing they receive adequate watering, ferns are a relatively low-maintenance plant. Several cultivars exist. ‘Dallas’ is a more compact form. ‘Kimberly Queen’ is upright and tolerates full sun. Related species N. cordifolia has an erect habit.

Pelargonium peltatum
Ivy Leaf Geranium

various

1-3'

sun, semi-shade

oedema

hanging basket, container

cuttings

Numerous cultivars are available. Plants are fairly vigorous and bloom continuously. Excellent in large, mixed containers.

Plumbago auriculata
Cape Leadwort

blue, white

2-3'

sun

few

containers, bedding

seed, cuttings

Plants are fairly vigorous and bloom continuously. Excellent in large containers. Not as showy when used as a bedding plant. Perennial farther south, where plants are much larger and are excellent planted in mass.

Scaevola aemula
Fan Flower

blue, white

8-10"

sun

few

hanging baskets, containers

cuttings

Loves the heat, producing continuous bloom. Low-maintenance.

Setcreasea purpurea
Purple Heart

purple foliage, pink flowers

8-10"

sun, semi-shade

few

hanging baskets, containers

cuttings

Long considered a common houseplant, it is a great success in the garden. Plants are vigorous and spread rapidly as an annual groundcover. In containers the trailing habit creates great contrast. Although pink flowers are produced, this plant is mainly grown for the effect of the foliage.

Strobilanthes dyerianus
Persian Shield

purple foliage

2-3'

sun

few

container, bedding

cuttings

Another houseplant that has found its way into the garden. Low-maintenance.

Sutera grandiflora
Bacopa

white, pink, blue

trailing

sun, semi-shade

few

hanging baskets, containers

cuttings

Plants must have adequate moisture to maintain vigor. Annual ground cover.

 


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