Like the perfect T-shirt you reach for every May, you probably have your favourite tried-and-true plants you return to when it comes time to fill those patio containers. But, like that awesome pair of sunglasses you a) didn’t realize you had to have before you saw them and b) are wildly, mezmerizingly fabulous, here are three outstanding flowering annuals, all new for 2017 and perfect for container plantings, that will change everything.
Petunia Night Sky (Petunia hybrid)
This striking petunia cultivar (above) is covered in blooms with a ground-breaking new colour pattern. A vigorous plant with a mounded, trailing habit, it’s covered in deep purple flowers splashed with creamy white like a starry night sky. I’d love to say that it’s totally carefree but there’s one small issue you have to keep in mind with this stunner: The patterning can vary depending on the fluctuation in temperature from day to night. In the heat of mid-summer, there may be fewer or smaller white spots. Some blooms may not have spots at all. If you have a spell of extreme fluctuations in temperature (hot days and cool nights), the plant produces white flowers. But in spring and fall when temperatures are milder and less extreme from day to night, this plant consistently produces an out-of-this-world show. Photos, above, courtesy of Ball Horticultural Company.
Light: Full sun to part shade. Water/Soil: Well-draining, soilless potting medium. Fertilize regularly.
Celosia Asian Garden (Celosia argentea ‘Asian Garden’)
I tend to struggle when it comes to finding a good ‘thriller’ for a container planting. Ornamental grass or a small palm is fine but sometimes I want more than a spray of greenery in the centre of an arrangement. I want fireworks. This new Celosia fits the bill.
The rose-coloured flowers won’t fade, make excellent cut flowers, and continuously bloom from late spring through to first frost and sometimes beyond. This annual’s good branching, almost bushy, growth habit was what helped make it an All-America Selections 2017 winner. But it’s vertical enough (growing up to 40″ in height) that it won’t crowd out fillers and spillers in a large container 2′ or 3′ in diameter. It’s also reported to be a pollinator magnet.
Light: Full sun Water/Soil: Dry to normal, Well-draining soil mix with slow-release fertilizer.
Supertunia® Picasso in Purple™
This Petunia hybrid (above) is the fourth in the popular Supertunia® Picasso series. The blooms are similar to Pretty Much Picasso™ but this new plant’s growth habit is densely branched with improved, densely packed flower coverage and contrasting, darker foliage. The plant blooms from spring right through to a hard frost.
Because it mounds well and trails up to 30″, the plant multi-tasks nicely as both a filler and a spiller. FYI: it also does well as a ground cover in the front of garden beds. It’s very tolerant of heat and humidity making it a good choice for a sunny patio in the dog days of summer. Photos, above, courtesy of Proven Winners.
Light: Full sun to part shade Water/Soil: Average. Well-draining medium. Fertilize regularly.