As much as I’d like to deny it, September is here. The leaves are already piling up along the sidewalk from the big cottonwoods along the driveway. It’s time to evaluate the performance of the annuals. In my gardens, they are the workhorses that carry the heavy load of continual bloom through the hot, hot often dry months of summer so they must be outstanding. It has taken years of trial and error to find varieties that can deliver the color I want without a lot of work. Here are the six reliable annuals that work for me here in central Indiana. 1) Marigold “Durango”. Yes, I’ve raved about this tough, gorgeous anemone-flowered marigolds before but they deserve every word of praise. The flowers are large, 2-2 1/2″ and come in a range of colors from deep red to lemon yellow, with oranges, soft orange and bi-colors as well. 2) Celosia “Fresh Look Orange” really comes into its own when the weather turns hot and will be durable until frost. About 15″ tall, so despite heavy blooms it requires no staking. It’s a great cut flowers, and holds its color for dried arrangements as well. If orange isn’t your color, it also comes in yellow, red, gold, and rose. 3) Zinnia “Profusion Double Deep Salmon” stays compact (10″) and tidy all season. It doesn’t even really require deadheading because new flowers keep appearing that hide the old ones as they fade. The Profusion series is disease-resistant and comes in a Cherry, Gold, White,Yellow and Fire (deep orange.) I prefer the double series, although the standard single Profusion series was an All-American winner when it first came out. 4) Ageratum “Blue Horizon” is a tall, sky-blue fluffy flower that is also a good cut flower with strong stems. The butterflies adore it and the blue makes the orange and apricot flowers in the garden pop, as do these white “Helen Campbell” cleome that add some height (3′) and light to the back of the border here and there. It’s a self-seeder but I usually start a few indoors so they will bloom a bit earlier. And for those really hot, dry spots right along the sidewalk 6) Portulaca “Happy Hour Orange” fills in an amazing amount of space for such tiny leaves, and never quits blooming despite the weather. The “Happy Hour” series has really improved the performance of this old favorite, often called “Moss Rose.” They come in yellows, white, reds, pinks, rose. They can even survive life in the Lady Cottage window box, which dries out so quickly & I often forget to water! All six of these annuals
So that’s a simple “Six on Saturday” but they make me smile every day in the garden. To see what makes other gardeners smile, check out all the “SOS” posts at The Propagator, the host and creator of this meme.