Now that spring is in full swing and blooms are abundant-azaleas, dogwoods, rhododendrons and more - it's time to plant flowers for summer. Mid-April through May is the perfect time to add seasonal color to your landscape. There are annuals for sun that not only provide colorful blooms but, attract butterflies and hummingbirds too. And, there are types with colorful foliage and flowers that will brighten dark shady spots. Whether you grow them in containers, window boxes or mix them in with your perennials, annuals offer months of color and demand little in return. Just make sure you give them regular water and fertilizer.
While there are a wealth of annuals to choose from, homeowners may notice that Impatiens, historically a classic choice for the shade garden, are not being offered as an option. A disease called Downy mildew has wiped out great numbers of this plant and continues to pose a threat. Symptoms include yellow leaves, stunted growth and white downy covering on the undersides of the leaves.
The good news is that SunPatiens ™ and New Guinea Impatiens appear to exhibit a high tolerance to this disease. Other annuals that thrive in the shade or part-shade include Caladiums, Torenia, also known as the wishbone or clown flower and a variety of begonias.
A favorite selection of begonia, Begonia semperflorens, at Gibbs Landscape is the Whopper series,™ . This heat tolerant variety grows up to 2 ½ ft tall and displays eye catching 3-inch flowers in red or rose set off by green or bronze foliage. While both foliage selections will grow in part-shade or shade, the bronze foliage types tolerate sunny locations better than the green leaf types.
A note about Caladiums- they require soil temperatures that are 70 F or warmer. For this reason if you plant them in the ground wait until the end of April or the beginning of May. For shady sites, Caladium 'White Christmas' is a beauty. Combine it with ferns and hostas in the garden or plant it in containers. For sunny locations consider Caladium 'Aaron' or 'Red Flash.' Coleus have long been popular (both sun and shade types) for their dramatic colorful foliage. The Kong ™ series offers large foliage that is rose and green, scarlet and mosaic. Growing 1 to 2 ft tall, they thrive in containers or in the ground. Combine them with other flowering annuals.
For hot sun gardens, try annuals like Pentas, (a favorite of butterflies), low growing and mildew resistant zinnias like Zinnia 'Profusion' (white, orange, yellow) and reliable lantana. Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' looks like masses of babys breath but is tough and durable. If you love geraniums, try the Blizzard ™ Geraniums, in red, blue and pink; great performers during our long hot and humid Georgia summers.
For a dramatic display, plant combinations of annuals that include plants of different heights, textures and blooms. For drama, mix in tropicals like Elephant ear and Canna. Remember too, that large containers will not dry out as quickly as smaller ones and they make a big impact. A small investment now will result in months of color for your summer and fall garden.
If you need assistance with your seasonal color design and installation, please contact Gibbs Landscape Company. It would be our pleasure to assist you!