When it comes to stunning color in the summer garden, these annuals are Garden State favorites thanks to their color brilliance and beauty, easy care, heat tolerance and pollinator-attractive features.
Portulaca, also known as Moss Rose or Purslane are annuals built to take the heat. They thrive in full sun and can tolerate dry growing conditions. Equally beautiful in the garden as a groundcover or in containers, a well-drained soil and light application of a granular fertilizer when new growth appears is all they need to keep them happily blooming. They are true sun lovers and close their petals at night and on cloudy days, though the “Sundial” series tolerates cloud cover and cool temps better than most other varieties. They have succulent-like leaves and trailing stems that are ideal for use in tall containers, window boxes and hanging baskets. They come in a variety of colors, from frosty white to firey red and even two-toned hues. Some noteworthy varieties include:
Sundance – One of the largest flowers of all of the varieties.
Duet – Bi-color flowers in rose and yellow or red and yellow.
Fairy Tale – Produces flowers with pom-pom centers and ruffled-edged, flat petals.
Afternoon Delight – Larger (2-inch) blooms that stay open all day until nightfall.
Is there such a thing as a perfect flower? If so, Zinnia would certainly be in the running. With their brilliant, continuous color from late spring to fall frost, Zinnias are color powerhouses for the garden (not to mention one of the easiest flowers to grow). Pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds love them – how could they not? They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and virtually any bright color you can imagine. They’re a wonderful choice for a cutting garden and their reliable growth and easy care make them perfect for the novice flower gardener. Some varieties to check out include:
California Giant Mix – Go big and bold with these beauties. They reach a height of up to 4 feet with blooms 5-6 inches across in a sherbet-y color mix of yellow, pink, orange and red. These are nothing short of magical in a children’s garden and equally enchanting in an adult’s.
Double Zahara Yellow – If you want the look of sunshine in flower form, try these bright yellow, double globe-type blossoms. Blooms are 2+ inches across on 16”-20” stems.
Peppermint Stick – As yummy to look at as its name sounds, these beauties feature color combos that include streaks of red and white as well as pink, orange and yellow.
Queeny Lime Orange – If the name alone doesn’t grab your attention, its gorgeous ombre, tri-coloration in citrusy-sherbet shades will.
Swizzle Ivory and Cherry – Impressive 4-inch cherry blooms are tipped in white for a stunning starburst effect.
Available as both an annual or short-lived perennial, Verbena is a fast-growing, sun-loving, drought-tolerant plant with an exceptionally long bloom period, from late spring through autumn frost. Flowers range in color from peach, orange, yellow, white, purple, red and bi-colors. Trailing or moss types look lovely cascading over a retaining wall or even as a groundcover. Deadheading once or twice throughout the season will keep the plant blooming beautifully throughout the season. Annual verbena varieties (Glandularia x hybrid) to try include:
Quartz Series –Generous clusters of blooms make this variety lovely for containers and baskets and their mounding habit of ample flowers against dark green leaves looks striking in the garden bed. They come in a variety of beautiful colors including a snowy white.
Obsession Series – Aptly named for their stunning colors. Easy to grow and care for, many varieties in this series come with “eyes” (little white centers), but also solid colors. “Berry Tart Mix” is a gorgeous mix of blueberry and raspberry hued blooms with white eyes, while “Apricot” is a lovely, soft solid color.
Romance Series – Varieties come in shades of deep red wine, scarlet, rose and periwinkle with white centers. Proven Winners offers a Superbena Royale® series that is their most vigorous, heat-tolerant, and mildew-resistant series. Two to check out include “Plum Wine” a brilliant, deep fuchsia and “Chambray” a delightful lavender blue.
Natural show-stoppers, Cosmos are easy-to-grow annuals that love hot, dry locations. Ranging in color from pure white to the deepest crimson, these flowers bloom on 2-5 foot high stems and are a favorite of butterflies.
Cupcakes White – Look like cupcake holders with their cupped form and pristine white color. A cheery yellow center adds to this flower’s innate charm.
Apollo Pink – A lovely, soft rose hue, perfect for a pastel garden.
Veloute – Mix it up a bit with this stunning variety. Flowers boast white petals dramatically outlined in deep ruby for a striking display, but you’ll also get a mix of solid white and solid ruby flowers, too.
Versaille Dark Rose – One of the tallest varieties (reaching over 8 feet!) this variety is ideal for the back of a border or for cutting since its flowers are a lovely pink shade with a yellow center offset by deep rose at the base of its petals.
Hot Chocolate – Deep, cocoa-reddish-brown blooms live up to their name not only in color, but in their vanilla/hot chocolate scent as well.
Diablo – Glows from the garden with its red-orange blooms. Plant them alongside blue cornflowers for a complementary color combo that really pops.
Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
Heat and drought-resistant and able to handle summer’s heavy rain showers, Calibrachoa looks like a miniature version of petunias with tiny flowers. Perfect for hanging baskets and containers. They come in a wide variety of solid and dual colors. Some Proven Winner Superbells® favorites include:
Coral Sun – If lemon and raspberry sherbet were a flower, this would be it. A sunny yellow center highlights rosy pink petals.
Yellow Chiffon– Creamy hued flowers deepen towards the center to a deep, yellow-green for a refreshing summer shower of blooms.
Doublette Love Swept – Beguiling, double-petal, rose-pink blooms are finely etched in striking white for the ultimate in floral charm.
Double Amber – Another double-flower variety in a soft, honey hue with deeper cinnamon colored veining and centers.
Blue Moon Punch – Petals shift from a deep, heliotrope center to pale lavender edges with a contrasting gold center for a “punch” of garden color.