It may not be precipitating today but it still feels like winter even though we had a brief warm spell last weekend and expect another one this weekend. As we wait for Spring to truly arrive, we can dream about our gardens and the containers we will be planting.
I promised that I would describe some more new annuals today and so I will. Lantana and Verbena are great annual for sunny areas. They are somewhat drought tolerant but still appreciate water every so often. I usually plant them at the front or sides of containers and window boxes where they can drape over the sides. I can also tell you that butterflies love them both. Two new verbenas this year are ‘Pink Ballet’, a bicolor of rose and pale pinks and Tiara Mickey Blue Lavender, bicolor purple that is stunning.
Anyone who grows annuals for cutting should include Lisianthus in the garden. The stems are strong and the flowers last for at least a week or two in a vase. A new color this year is light apricot. Falda Light Apricot has 36” stems, perfect for arrangements.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Gomphrena until the last few years. One of my clients ordered ‘Fireworks, a tall magenta one that she can’t live without now. I used some of the short ones (12”) in containers last year and amazed at their drought tolerance and their color presence. A new one this year is Las Vegas Mix, a mix of white, palish pink, and deep purple. The stems are 18” high, a good height for the middle of the border or a container. Butterflies and hummingbirds flock to these big, full flowers bobbing atop slender stems, and they are great for fresh and dried bouquets.
If you want an eye-catcher for your containers, try one of the many Colocasia (Elephant Ear). These tropical plants will grow in full sun to part sun. This new introduction is variegated and will probably grow 30” high and wide. It is mostly black as a result of its cross with ‘Black Magic’ but has a prominent white streak in the center (from ‘White Lava’). I have used several different Colocasia in my garden and in my containers. In the garden, they offer a totally different texture than most of our other plants. In containers, they make a great background plant because of their height. Like cannas, you can dig these tubers in late fall, put them in a black plastic container with soil, stick them in your basement, water them occasionally, and then bring them upstairs in March or April, start watering, and be ready to go again in May.
When April comes, be one of the first to access my spring newsletter and the order form for the spring sale. There will be lots of choices but don’t get overwhelmed. You can always call for advice.