7 Out-of-the-Ordinary Annuals
Perk up your plantings with these refreshingly uncommon annuals.
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Red scabiosa. The flowers of this scabiosa, also called pincushion flower, are globe-shaped and deep red in color with tiny lavender threads coming out the center. Scabiosa is also available in other flower colors, including blue, pink and white. The bees love this plant. It should come up easily from seed, but if you don't have the patience to start it from seed, you can buy it and plant it new every year. Plant it in full sun and a moist, well-draining soil.
Rex begonia. Commonly used as a houseplant, Rex begonias also grow well outdoors in containers or planted directly in the ground. Place them in a shady, well-draining spot. To keep them year after year, dig them and bring indoors for the winter.
Flowering maple. Otherwise known as Abutilon, flowering maple is a non-stop bloomer. It comes in a variety of flower colors; the cultivar shown here is 'Red Reiter'. Plant it in partial sun and a moist, well-draining soil. Flowering maples are great to use in containers as specimen plants or planted in mass.
Canary vine. The canary vine flower is a lemon-yellow color and has a distinctive bird-like shape. This plant has a vigorous vining habit. Plant it in full sun and a well-draining soil.
Impatiens 'Congo Cockatoo'. Not your traditional shade-loving bedding plant, 'Congo Cockatoo' has unique bicolor, yellow-and-red flowers. Plant it as a showstopping specimen in a shade garden. It grows to about two to three feet tall.
Fusion impatiens. A fairly recent introduction, this series of impatiens has bright, nontraditional flower colors and is becoming more readily available. Plant them in shade and provide them with plenty of moisture throughout the growing season.
Anagallis. There are very few flowering plants that have such a brilliant blue color. Also known as blue pimpernel, it prefers to be grown in areas where the night-time temperatures don't get very high and will diminish in the heat of the summer. Plant it in full sun and a well-draining soil.
Tips for plant shopping: If you're having a hard time finding what you're looking for, try a specialty nursery or online plant source. Join a garden club to network and swap plants with other gardeners or attend lectures at your local public garden or extension office.But always keep your eyes open. You may find a diamond in the rough where you least expect it. Sometimes you may time it just right to find a unique plant coming right off the truck at a box store.
Master gardener Paul James answers one of the most common questions about plants: how hardy is it?