Last week we wrote about perennial plants, this week we are going to focus on annuals. Annual plants will complete their lifecycles from germination to the production of seeds to one growing season and then die.  Many of these plants have beautiful flowers with great colors and patterns.  Using annuals can be more expensive if they are the only plants you grow as you are replacing them every year.  They can also take more time to care for if you have to deadhead and fertilize them regularly.  It is a great idea to mix them with your perennials.  Try planting annuals among your young perennials to make your garden look fuller. You can also mix them in with perennials, so when you are waiting for the perennials to bloom, you have annual flowers blooming. 

Number 5 on our list of annuals is Orach. Orach is an herb native to Europe and Siberia and its origin goes back to ancient times. It can be grown as a substitute warm weather substitute for spinach, which prefers cooler temperatures.  The leafy stems can also be used in bouquets.  White Orach is the most common variety of the plant, but the leaves are actually pale green to yellow rather than white.  There is also Red Plume, which has dark red stems and leaves.  You can also find a green variety as well as a copper-colored one.  The red variety makes a great ornamental plant and can reach 4 to 6 feet tall.  Growing Orach is similar to growing spinach.  Grow it in zones 4-8.  The seeds should be planted in full sun to part shade.

Strawflower is found in our fourth position.  This flower is related to daisies, asters, and sunflowers. Growing these flowers will add cheerfulness to your garden. While they look like daisies the petals are paper-like and stiff.  Strawflowers come in orange, pink, red, white, and yellow. These versatile flowers also bring texture and color to a cutting garden.  They can be used in fresh flower arrangements or dry them for a wreath.  These flowers are native to Australia and then went to Europe in the 1800s where the flowers were brewed in tea.  Strawflowers can be planted after the danger of frost has passed. Plant them in full sun in soil that drains well.  They bloom spring through fall and will grow 2 – 3 feet.

In the middle of our list is Sweet Sultan. These fragrant flowers were once very popular.   They have a sweet honey-scent and were introduced to American in the 1700s.  Its origin is Southwest Asia and it is a member of the sunflower family. The flowers have fringed thistle-like blooms that almost look like a powder puff.  Purple is the most common color for these plants, but they also come in lavender, pink, white, and yellow with a white or yellow center.  They will flower from June through October.  Try growing them in a border with Coreopsis or compact Cosmos. They also look good in a bouquet and make an excellent dried flower. Here’s hoping they make a comeback.

Number two on our list is Artemisia MAKANA™ Silver.  This native Hawaiian small shrub has soft, silvery foliage that works in the ground or in a mixed container.  Try growing it in a mass planting or as a container accent. We love using silver in the garden as it coordinates well with other colors.  If you live in hardiness zones 9-11 you can try to grow the plant as a small tree.  It is fast-growing and needs to be planted in a sunny location in well-drained soil.  While it blooms in spring and summer, the small yellow flowers are insignificant.  You can use the foliage in cut flower bouquets too.  It grows approximately 24 inches high and 36 inches wide. Artemisia MAKANA™ Silver is deer resistant and drought tolerant. 

Our top annual for the year is Labyrinth Dahlia.  I saw a photo of this Dahlia on Facebook and was knocked out by its beauty.  Like its name, this Dahlia is a mystery.  We are real fans of Dahlias, so it was a no-brainer that this flower would be number one on our list.  It has shades of pink, raspberry, and peach and will look stunning in any garden. It is a Dinnerplate Dahlia, which means the blooms will be large.  The actual flower can grow 8-10 inches. Dahlias bloom mid-summer to frost.  Imagine how your garden will look with these flowers for that time period. Dahlias also make get additions to floral arrangements. These flowers are annuals from zones 3-7. It is a true showstopper!

Let us know what your favorite annuals were for the year!

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