It is officially time for summer annuals here in the Piedmont Region of Virginia. Our last average frost date is May 5th. Although we promote sustainable and native plants we also recognize the enjoyment that a seasonal pop of color can bring. The trick is to choose the right annuals for the right place and ones that’ll suite your lifestyle.
Nobody wants to be a slave to their seasonal color, rushing home to water delicate plants, and deal with the stress that finding someone to water your annuals while you take a vacation can cause. So when you are perusing the annual section in your favorite garden centers this spring you may want to keep the following candidates in mind.
Lantana is a phenomenal annual that comes in a myriad of color combinations. The hotter and drier it gets the more this plant thrives. It is also a pollinator and hummingbird magnet. It is a little brittle so planting it in a space that you will not have to travel directly through is suggested.
Variegated Tropical Milkweed is another fun plant option in our area (Zone 7). Although this annual has taken some heat and created some controversy in milder zones (Zone 8 and up) this plant will not survive our winters and terminates with the first frost. It also offers a unique opportunity to experience personal interactions with Monarch Butterflies up close without the running (rhizomatic) nature of our other Milkweeds (Asclepias), nor will it reseed.
There are numerous Zinnias to consider as well. They come in a broad array of shapes, sizes, colors, and flower forms. From the classic big beautiful formal double flowering form in a carnival of colors to the low spreading single flowering simple form that come in white, yellow, & orange, even raspberry, pink and white. The only maintenance is deadheading the larger varieties. Be sure to plant them in an area with plenty of light and air circulation as the can be susceptible to powdery mildew. These flowers are easily grown by seed, so consider sowing some instead of buying larger more expensive plants. Give that wallet a break.
If you enjoy plants with a purpose and don’t mind a light re-seeder then Pineapple Sage may just have a place in your yard and a few leaves are a nice addition to a cool beverage. We like to refer it to our perennial annual. You will not hear any complaints from the hummingbirds either.
These are just a few of our favorite ‘easy keepers’ for full sun. Ours were just installed today and we will post intermittent progress shots to show you all just how much these guys can fill a space with exciting color and activity (without sentencing you to a summer dragging hoses).