Summer Annuals For Containers In Sun
So the first weekend home after a long series of business trips came to an end was cold and intensely wet. I pretty much guaranteed this when I invested in a new set of soaker hoses, just as you increase the likelihood of rain when you remember to bring your umbrella. I am looking forward to high levels of precipitation for the rest of the year.
But never fear! There is garden stuff to do even when the ground is saturated with water. (I avoid gardening when the ground is really wet, leads to soil compaction). Specifically, the time had come to pull out the container tulips and replace them with summer annuals. Hurrah!
So I drove to two of my favorite local garden centers, Anton’s here in Evanston and Gethsemane in Chicago. Typically these places are mobbed on early June weekends. However, the cold and the intermittent thunderstorms did wonders for reducing the crowds, leading to a relaxed if excessively moist garden shopping experience. Here’s what I got:
- Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’. This Salvia, known as Blue Anise Sage, is hardy to zone 8 but grown as an annual here in zone 5. ‘Black and Blue’ has black stems and gold/green foliage along with the tubular blue flowers. Grows rather upright, about 2-3′. I’ve seen this plant used frequently at the Chicago Botanic Garden, where I am constantly stealing ideas.
- Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea): This was the one plant I bought on impulse, but I wanted a tall plant that I hadn’t tried before. Another tropical plant, hardy to zone 9, with tubular flowers that do look like little red cigars or cigarettes. Supposed to be a great hummingbird plant. I’m not sure if I’ve seen this plant in garden centers before. Here’s a picture from the Missouri Botanic Garden.
- Ageratum ‘High Tide Blue’ (Ageratum houstonianum). This variety grows about 24″ tall.
- Pentas ‘Graffiti Red Lace’ and ‘Red Star Cluster’ (Pentas lanceolata). I bought a lot of these. Grew it for the first time last year and love it. A real magnet for hummingbirds. Clusters of star shaped red flowers, about 18″ tall.
- Million Bells ‘Celebration Sky Blue’ and ‘Crackling Fire’ (Calibrachoa varieties). Flowers sort of like mini-petunias in blue and orange.
- Bacopa ‘Betty Blue’ (Sutera cordata). This plant is not dramatic, but very reliable. Small light blue flowers on trailing stems.
The color scheme I ended up with was basically blue-red-orange, blue-red-blue, or red-red-blue. Looking forward to a lot of hummingbirds on the front porch. Actually, I’ve already seen my first hummingbird of the year, and it was feeding on the columbine, which I’ve never seen before. Sadly, I was not able to get a picture.
Naturally, I’ll post more pictures of these containers as they fill in.
Have you filled your containers with summer annuals yet?