Annual of the Week-Petunia

One of the most popular and versatile annuals found in the horticulture world is the petunia. You can probably find any shade of color that you want and would be able to plant it anywhere other than a deep shaded area in your garden. If you can give it sunlight it will grow.

However, not every petunia is the same. There are a couple of distinctive characteristics that are set petunia apart from each other. So distinct that petunia are separated into different classifications: grandiflora, multiflora, milliflora, trailing and mounding types.

Petunia Hybrid Grandiflora: Grandiflora types produce the largest flowers of all petunia, however they will bear the least amount of flowers. These plants can grow as tall as 24 inches and certain varieties or strains can give you a spreading habit of 24-36 inches wide. Some of the more popular strains are Ultra, Storm, Magic and Frost.

Petunia Hybrid Multiflora: This is also known as a floribunda. Plant growth or habit is similar to that of the Grandiflora varieties, but the flowers are smaller, usually only producing flowers that are 2 inches across. Certain strains offer a neat compact habit that makes them excellent for mass planting in flower beds. Prime Time, Celebrity, Plum, and Whispers are strains that can offer the widest range of colors for your garden.

Petunia Hybrid Milliflora: These are cute dwarf petunias growing in mounding habits of about 6 to 8 inches in height and width. One of the best features is that there is no need for pinching or pruning to keep these babies in tip top shape. Dainty flowers cover the whole plant offering a burst of color in containers or in your garden. Plant them where they can be seen and not covered over. You will find these as Fantasy or Tiny Tunias.

Trailing and Mounding Petunia: You might have heard or seen the Purple Wave petunia, but have you seen the Tidal Wave or even the Ramblin’ petunias? These phenomenal petunias definitely have made a splash in the cascading flowering plants. Some of these varieties can grow up to 5 feet wide. That is a lot of color to have in one area.

Petunias are a flower that everyone has had in their garden at one time; personally I think you should have them somewhere all of the time. I find that the purple ones, no matter which variety offers the best fragrance to enjoy from your garden. Plant them and enjoy.

Annual(s) of the Week-Diascia and Nemesia

If I mention Diascia, I need to say Nemesia too!

These two wonderful recent introductions into the plant world are a great reward. Both are in the same family as the snapdragon and offer some of the similar traits: one of the most important is that is can be fairly frost tolerant.  However, don’t take it from the cozy sheltered life of a greenhouse and place it outside if the nights are still freezing.  Allow these plants to adjust to the local conditions first.

Other than being able to be among some of the first annuals to be planted out in the spring, look for some other amazing traits. Nemesia you will need to make sure you are planting the right cultivars:  Nemesia strumosa is a variety that will NOT tolerate the freezing temps, look for Nemesia foetans, N.pallida, N. capensis, N. Fruticans, and N. caerulea are the stronger, sturdier varieties that will also tolerate the cooler temps.  Nemesia will offer smaller daintier flowers in shades of blues and also beautiful pure white to pink blossoms:  A must for a planters and small flower gardens.

Diascia is the real charmer in any container arrangement or in your flower bed.  The color scheme is a little different than that of Nemesia: You will find hues of red, apricot, salmon, and pink.  The flower size of the Diascia plant is also larger and the plant itself offers a stronger upright profile, yet some varieties will also lay down offering a spreading habit.

As  you find this little darling of a flower make sure that you make room for these two little gems in your containers and flower gardens. Being able to tolerate cooler temperatures these beauties can be planted early and enjoyed all summer long and into the cool nights of the fall. A lasting favorite to all those who plant them.

Annual of the Week-Calibrachoa

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Calibrachoa, also known as Million Bells, is actually a perennial that is often grown as an annual.  If you live in a warm enough climate, this plant will come back year after year.  However, for the colder climates, this plant should be treated as an annual.

Calibrachoa is a relative of the petunia family and is native to Brazil.  The forms that we use in our gardens are the result of hybridization.  These plants are smaller than petunias and have more wiry and slender stems with tiny, closely set leaves.

There are two basic types of Calibrachoa.  The trailers are low and flat growing with leaves that are 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide.  These are called Liricashower and have flowers that are white, pink and a purplish blue that are about an inch wide.  The other type of Calibrachoa is a more compact and mounding type of plant.  They do not trail as much and are known as Colorburst.  The leaves on this variety are a little larger and the flowers come in cherry, rose, red and violet.

The wiry stems make the plants less likely to break than the standard petunia.  Calibrachoa will produce blooms all season long.  They should be planted in an area with full sun or light shade.  They can be used in hanging baskets, flower boxes and as bedding plants.  Be sure to plant them at lease 1 1/2 feet apart for best results.