Annuals are bursting with color, still putting on a show

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

We had our monthly garden clean up at Snyder Park Gardens & Arboretum this past Wednesday and I was pleasantly surprised at how great the annuals still look! Our Cultivar Trial Gardens were beautiful as well as the Springfield Foundation Feature Gardens and they are all annual plants.

Now is the time in the growing season when many annuals start looking tired. People tend to want to rip them out and plant fall mums, kale, pansies, etc. However, many of the plants in our trial gardens are still growing strong with lots of color.

Those that performed great all season and still look great include celosia, coleus, salvia and sweet potato vine.

The celosia is stunning. The cultivar is Flamma and is from Sakata, an international seed breeding company, and has a plume-type flower. Over the past several years, breeding in celosias has come a long way. It used to be that you had to deadhead them, or they would stop blooming.

This is not the case with the Flamma series. Colors include golden, orange, red and rose, and plants are around one foot tall to the tops of the blooms. They are loaded with flowers that are quite spectacular and somewhat attractive to pollinators.

The salvias all had pollinators of some type in varying degrees. Ball Horticultural’ s salvia Blue Chill wins the award for most pollinators and most species. There were all types of native bees, butterflies, flies, beetles, and honey and carpenter bees.

In fact, of the four salvia cultivars, this cultivar was extremely attractive to carpenter bees. The light blue spiked flowers were toppling over when the big bulky carpenter bee landed. The plant is around three feet all to the top of the flower.

I am not usually a coleus fan and if you fall into that category, you might want to take a look at some of the most recent introductions. I am slowly getting hooked on these foliage plants.

Breeding in coleus is rampant and many companies are looking for those cultivars that don’t flower. Flowers in coleus are insignificant and sometimes detract from the plant. On the other hand, they are attractive to pollinators!

My favorite of the summer was coleus Ruby Heart from Ball Horticultural. I had one in a container at home and every time I came around the corner and saw it, I was impressed. The plant gets around 18″ tall and has a few blooms right now.

The two-inch elongated heart-shaped leaves on Ruby Heart are stunning. The leaves are lightly serrated and dark maroon with a light green coloration around the serrated edge. I just love this one.

I have three favorite sweet potato vines this year, Illusion Penny Lace and Sweet Caroline Black Coffee, and Medusa Green, all Proven Winner introductions.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Medusa Green has the best leaf shape with deep-cut lobes that add texture to the planting. Black Coffee has black foliage with light green new growth that adds a bit of flare and Penny Lace has deep-cut burgundy foliage with lighter green new growth.

I invite you to our gardens in Springfield to enjoy the last days of summer and the beautiful color that can be found in our gardens.

Pamela Corle-Bennett is the state master gardener volunteer coordinator and horticulture educator for Ohio State University Extension. Contact her by email at

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