9 Not-So-Mainstream Annuals to Consider for 2020 - Greenhouse Grower
By Allan Armitage
Sometimes when I am wandering around gardens and retail outlets, I notice something quite ironic. It appears that the more we breed, the less we have. There are a ton of fabulous annuals out there, but the trend in the last 10 years seems to be less, not more, choice than ever before.
I don’t mean there are fewer cultivars of petunia or calibrachoa (good grief, they could pave the streets of New York). No, there just seems to be fewer Alternantheras, Evolvulus, Iresine, or Aptenia out there. Of course, the fact that landscapers/gardeners don’t know what they are, and therefore don’t buy them, keeps them off the shelves.
Or might it be the other way around? It may be that calibrachoas and petunias are simply the greatest plants on earth, and no one needs anything different. Perhaps the market is clamoring for even more annuals like zinnias, begonias, and snapdragons. Or not.
As for me, here are a few annuals we should see more of, some I have no doubt will become mainstream, others might get lost in the shuffle. I just hope I will find them at retail somewhere next spring.
Basil is certainly not difficult to find on retail shelves, but letting people know that this one is more downy mildew-resistant than most others is a reason to label this boldly.
Bidens ‘Taka Tuka Red with Yellow Center’
Bidens tries like crazy to be mainstream and without a doubt the breeding in the last 10 years has been quite amazing. Unfortunately, only the old yellow basket forms seem to break through. This is one of the best annuals for containers, and for me, what’s not to like about Taka Tuka?
Brassica ‘Miz America’
Mustards, kale, and even Brussels sprouts have a place in the ornamental mix. Mustards in particular put up with both cold and warm temperatures and can be used in some locales throughout the season. The purple foliage of ‘Miz America’ complements so many other plants in the landscape. The foodscaping phenomenon is real, so let’s take advantage of this millennial trend.
Capsicum Sambar Series
It’s hard to argue for Brussels sprouts when ornamental peppers are so outstanding. I am seeing more of these every year; I even bought some that my deer enjoyed. Their colors are fabulous, and they continue to flower and fruit throughout the season. The Sambar series is stunning. It provides more fodder for the foodscapers.
Cuphea ‘Pink Shimmer’
The cupheas are always on the cusp of breaking through. At least one cultivar is introduced every other year. They are tough, colorful, and even cute. ‘Pink Shimmer’ has caught my eye as an excellent choice for containers and baskets.
Echibeckia ‘Summerina Sizzling Sunset’
I still don’t know what to think about this group of plants. People scoffed, turned their noses up and tried to ignore them, but they don’t seem to be going away. They can compete with anything for color, and at retail, they should be instant stars. I must be loitering around the wrong retailers, as I simply don’t see them. I would be a scoffer, but ‘Summerina Sizzling Sunset’ even tolerated our hot, miserable summer and came away with a blue ribbon for performance in the University of Georgia Trial Gardens. I am becoming a believer.
Erysimum ‘Erysistible Tricolor’
This is a plant that makes claims to be a perennial, but still struggles with North American climates, so let’s just call it a temperennial. Regardless, I am enjoying the creative breeding that has occurred in the last five years. They are cool season plants to be sure, but they have better colors more vigor, and improved greenhouse and landscape performance.
Positioned as a mainstream retail plant, the sunflowers have come miles in the last five years. They are more compact, but with handsome black-eyed Susan flowers and a long flowering period. The downside to all the breeding is that everyone is trying to out-sun everyone else, and the names all sound the same. However, I have been so pleased with ‘Sunbelievable’ that I may remember the name for next year.
Sanvitalia ‘Queen of Sunset’
I include sanvitalia for strictly selfish reasons — I want to see more of it. This is an underused, tough groundcover/container plant that appears every now and then, only to disappear from the shelves for a couple of years. ‘Queen of Sunset’ is one of the latest, and I am pleased to know about it — now, if only I can find it.
Allan Armitage was a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia for 30 years. He recently retired and remains an active consultant, author and lecturer.
taken from https://www.greenhousegrower.com/crops/9-not-so-mainstream-annuals-to-consider-for-2020
till next time this is Becky Litterer, Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty Iowa email@example.com