If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for the next best annual that makes a showy display into September and October and even beyond (dare I say November?).
The trick is to find them as babies at the nurseries in the springtime, instead of paying full price for them come the fall.The difficulty is that you can’t see them as they will be, they are usually found in wee six – eight packs, tiny unobtrusive plants that are overlooked, but once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the availability.
Some of my annual favourites that can be purchased as nursery babes to be cleverly included in your garden design, containers or otherwise, which will survive to first frost include:
ornamental grasses and millets (purple fountain grass is a favourite, but also keep a look out for any grasses that are oat or corn based)
Morning Glory vine, full sun, this is absolutely one of the easiest and most rewarding flowers to grow from seed. Just soak your seeds overnight, plant them in place, and stand back for the show. They twist around the simplest fence or sticks, but they do need something to hold on to. Originally known as one of the rare ‘true blue’ flowers, myriad hybrids today show awesome blooms, both single and double. Buy the seed packets, you won’t be disappointed!
It pays to be patient with regular organic fertilizers.
I’ve had three foot high flowers still carrying on into November. Yes!
Brugmansia has always been known for its great beauty and difficulty in overwintering. These are very expensive specimens to purchase. If you buy one, do make sure that there’s a very clear ‘Y’ branch at the top. No blooms will open before that ‘Y’ branch, regardless of age.
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Datura upright facing: starts blooming in mid July through to frost. Outstanding. Remove spent flower heads as they readily self seed; you’ll go crazy in the spring eradicating them. I always forget so I just choose the biggest and strongest babies and let them do their thing.
A semi succulent that thrives in dry sunny and even gravel soil, this year I’ve found it also does well in a part sun area. It reliably flowers from spring until frost; the blooms, though relatively tiny, do seem huge on their low growing stems. I always use these plants as driveway ‘markers’– an easy way to find your way home. After a few years of planting, along with its self seeding habit, you’ll have a lovely border garden, almost like magic.
If you have the patience of Job, bulbs are your best friend. I always try to start mine early, in the bird room, but even when I miss my own deadlines and plant them directly into the outdoor gardens in late June when the soil is warmed up, I’m always, and I mean always, rewarded by the end of July straight through to frost.
What I do is mark them in the ground with a stick or upright placer. Then I try my very best to forget all about them. Okay, this is a lie. I still haunt the gardens all June long to my great dismay that nothing is peeking up through the soil. And then, suddenly, toward the end of July, I’m absolutely gleeful with my harvest of tender bulbs that are yet again showcasing their blooms or foliage until frost, when it’s time to bring them in again.
Again, who knew? I would have to believe that part sun works best with the low growing varieties. The tall varieties I do think will want full sun to keep them from stretching their stems in search of it.
Caladiums have always been my shady garden stand by. Problem is how long they take to get going. Your patience will be rewarded, hugely, with foliage like none other, I promise. Dig them up in the fall for a dry winter sleep and you’ll be starting all over again in late June with the same beautiful results. If you can’t wait, you’ll always find them at any nursery, for a premium.
Elephant Ears, shade to part sun plants. Wet feet? uh-huh, but they also thrive in difficult situations, even as houseplants with very little light! The question always remains: should I overwinter them as bulbs, or bring them inside as houseplants. The answer has always been how much room I have left in the house Elephant ears continually amaze as shallow pond plants too.
Canna Lilies, full sun for exquisite blooms, part shade for exquisite foliage. I always start mine inside for earlier leafing out, but if you don’t care about blooms, you can wait and plant the tubers directly into the ground late June when the soil has warmed up. There are so many varieties now that I simply plant them for foliage, as our shady backyard leaves no room for blooms, but who cares with myriad foliage from deepest reds to whitest whites?
Tender, can be over wintered, or brought in as a houseplant, should you have the room for massive leaves spanning six to ten feet.
Musa is always a winner in your outdoor garden, if it has dappled sunlight, or near shade. Full sun will burn its leaves.