Every year plant breeders release new varieties of annuals, which landscapers and homeowners eagerly snap up. There are fresh colours, bloom configurations, and growth patterns, all giving designers some exciting new options.
Here are some of the ones we’re excited about.
It’s hard to believe that breeders could do something new with such an old favourite as snapdragons. After all, gardeners have loved Angelonia for generations. The modern varieties are hardy and well-behaved, thriving in heat and humidity but also tolerating wet feet.
Angelface is a particularly lovely varietal that does well with minimal care. They have a delicate fragrance reminiscent of grape pop, which make them a lovely cut flower as well. There are several new colours this year, including four blues (Cascade Blue, Steel Blue, Wedgewood Blue as well as one that’s just named Blue).
Sometimes called “Million Bells,” calibrachoa have been described as tiny petunias on steroids. Their blooms are petunia-like, but they are renowned for the speed with which they spread, as well as the fact that they rebloom so quickly that deadheading really isn’t necessary.
While they can be used in garden beds, we most often use them in containers (calibrachoa are very forgiving, but they hate having their feet wet, something that’s never a problem in containers.) They hang beautifully down the sides of the containers and are particularly good at attracting hummingbirds.
There are several new colour combinations this year – the focus among breeders lately has been toward multicoloured blooms in various patterns. One of the prettiest is Doublette Love Swept, in which pairs of blooms are tinted a deep pink with a delicate white around the rim of each petal.
Berried Treasure Strawberry
This is another great container plant that doesn’t need deadheading, because the blooms turn into sweet and delicious strawberries.
Strawberries in containers have been popular for some years now. But lately breeders have been developing varieties in which the flowers are as appealing as the fruit. Berried Treasure is a European variety (it’s known there as Summer Breeze) that’s new to Canada this year.
While it can be treated as an annual in a container, this strawberry can also be grown in garden beds as a perennial – it’s hardy to zone 4a.
Rockin “Golden Delicious” Golden-leaved Pineapple Sage
Pineapple is present in the scent as well as the colour of this lovely foliage plant. Pineapple Sage grows three to four feet tall, and is extremely heat-tolerant. It prefers a bit of shade in the afternoon, otherwise the leaves can get sunburnt. It will grow in full shade, but then the leaves tend to be green rather than chartreuse.
It’s a delight as a single accent plant, bringing a splash of yellow to the bed. But it can also be stunning in a mass planting. It even works well in containers or raised beds, providing a vertical element at the back to set off some of the lower-growing flowers.