I used to fill my borders with perennials only, but then I discovered Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia). And I realized: why wouldn’t you mix annuals with the perennials? They add so much color over such a long period.
This year I’m hoping to mix in more annuals than usual. Here are the species and varieties I’ve ordered.
(I’m thinking I’ll start a few of each inside and direct sow the rest of the seed once the snow has melted. We’ll see how it goes. It will be interesting to compare the performance of seed started indoors and those directly sown.)
Cleome (Cleome hassleriana). We ordered 2 varieties: ‘Violet Queen’ and ‘White Queen’. Cleomes are known to self-sow in climates a bit warmer than mine. I like Cleomes, but haven’t had great success with them. In past years I have bought a few mature plants on occasion and tucked them in among the perennials.
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus). My history with Cosmos is pretty much like my experience with Cleome. They do not self-sow in our garden, though I’ve heard they will do so in warmer zones. This year I’ve ordered 3 interesting varieties – ‘Sensation Radiance’, ‘Apricot Lemonade’, and ‘Cupcakes White’. All have single blooms, which I much prefer to the doubles. Both Cosmos and Cleome are late season annuals.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). After Mexican Sunflower, ‘Italian White’ Sunflowers are my favorite annuals. This is a branching sunflower with many smaller blooms. We’ll plant them again this year, and also try a second sunflower variety for the first time: ‘Lemon Queen’, which is another branching type with soft yellow flowers.
Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus). ‘New Mexico’. Hypochondriacus? I tried unsuccessfully to find out the origins of this species name. Does this plant inspire imaginary diseases? I would like to know. In any case, this is the first time I am trying Amaranth. I think it will contrast nicely with the Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in the sunny bed north of the ‘Donald Wyman’ Crabapple. Also, songbirds eat the seeds. Known by several common names, including Prince’s Feather and Love-Lies-Bleeding.
Mexican Sunflower ‘Torch’ (T. rotundifolia). As regular readers of this blog, know, Mexican Sunflower is my favorite annual by far. A butterfly magnet, and you can’t beat those intense orange flowers!
I should note that rabbits are fond of annual sunflower seedlings, and I’m guessing they like Amaranth as well, as the young leaves are edible and tasty (so I’m told). I’ll need to protect both with chicken wire. The rest of these annuals are rabbit-resistant, at least to some degree.
Next up: annuals for containers.