Grow with KARE: 15 Frost-Friendly Annuals

6:25 PM, Sep 6, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Even though this weekend is going to be a hot one we all know that the cool weather is going to be upon us at any time. For many of us we have been nursing our annuals through a drought to enjoy a few extra weeks of color.

Michelle Mero Riedel a photographer and contributor to Northern Gardener Magazine recently wrote a great article that lists some hardy annuals that can take frost or two.

This list below could be a great one to keep on hand next spring to extend your season both early and late as the frosty weather lurks around.

Here is the article below.....

For extended season performance, these flower-power annuals will survive short bursts of cold temperatures.

Jack Frost doesn't scare me. When he arrives early fall, I know my garden isn't going to turn a boring brown. My autumn garden is scattered with colorful perennial chrysanthemums and asters and many frost-friendly annuals. It's taken many years, but I've learned that color doesn't have to diminish during chilly temperatures. And gardening for five months of color is significant in my northern garden.

I used to spend time worrying about those first-to-perish annuals in my garden. Sweet potato vine and coleus, two of my favorites, were spent when temperatures dipped into the 30s. Many years back, I noticed some annuals were still blooming happily after early morning temps near or just below freezing. I was proud of the few annuals that could tolerate a little frost. Sometimes they woke up looking a little shabby but perked up as the day progressed. For a better investment, I now plant and focus on what is still flowering late in the season.

It's time to replace those tried-and-true pansies, marigolds and sweet peas.

Here are 15 flowering, sun to part-shade-unless otherwise noted-annuals sure to improve any autumn garden or container.

There's the old-fashioned nemesia (N. Strumosa) grown from seed that's not cold hardy. The nemesia bred for cold tolerance is found in small pots at the garden center and is vegetatively propogated. Nemesia comes in many vivid colors, produces loads of small flowers on compact plants, and its flowers are similar to a snapdragon. Nemesia has upright and trailing habit.

Similar to nemesia, as both are members of the snapdragon family, diascia has slightly larger flowers. A great container performer, diascia is stunning with its upright and trailing habit. It is becoming one of my favorite plants for containers and hanging baskets.

Similar to a daisy, this cheerful plant comes in many colors, and the center disk is a different color than the petals. With good drainage, osteospermum will provide season-long flowers, especially in full sun. However, its best blooming period is at the beginning and end of summer. Don't expect to see a flower show at night, because it closes and reopens in the morning.

This is the ideal petunia due to its miniature trailing size. The colorful calibrachoa-sometimes called "million bells"-is location versatile. They can easily handle four to six hours of sunlight or more. They grow to be six to 12 inches tall and trail to about one foot. They have several excellent features, including no deadheading and an amazing load of non-stop blooms. I prefer the calibrachoa instead of a full-sized petunia.

One of lobularia's greatest characteristics is the ability to withstand heat. This is the perfect filler plant for containers and in between plants in the garden. In addition, the long bloom time and tiny snowballs of flowers just keep coming. Similar to the common seed-grown sweet alyssum, this new version will outlast the old-fashioned alyssum in both heat and cold.

Oxalis is also known as the shamrock or clover plant. Good luck is not needed to grow this wonderful plant, and it's not a weed. The foliage is colorful, as well as the delicate flowers found on the different cultivars. I'm in love with the dense, mounded habit that grows to 12 inches tall.

The ultimate container garden spiller plant, bacopa has showy white, pink or lavender flowers. Flower size comes in one-fourth inch to one inch, and I always go for the largest flower. A long blooming plant preferring evenly moist soil, bacopa will feel at home in clay or a water garden.

Unlike bacopa, verbena prefers well-drained soil and is the perfect rock garden plant. I'm fond of its upright and cascading habit in containers, as well as the large cluster of long-blooming flowers and tidy leaves. In the garden verbena will spread quickly filling the front border without any pampering. As an added bonus, verbena attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

I've grown argyranthemum in both part and full sun, with more profuse blooming in full sun. They say deadheading isn't necessary, but I disagree. The heavy flowering of this incredibly beautiful, upright plant means there's also many spent, brown blooms. I regularly remove the exhausted blooms to keep this plant in tip-top, attractive shape.

10. Blue salvia

A stunning show of purple-blue flowers in my landscape, blue salvia is one of the last annual plants standing in the fall. This plant doesn't need deadheading, and each flower lasts for months if not the entire growing season. Found mostly in plant packs at the nursery, I shop early for it. Blue salvia is a popular plant among gardening fans.

11. Gaura

Commonly called the butterfly flower, this annual's flowers look like fluttering butterflies from a distance. The annual gaura is an upright plant, getting about one- to two-feet high. It is wonderful in the garden or in containers. The plant looks delicate but can withstand strong winds and rain.

12. Blue lobelia

I commonly use the intense, royal blue flowers along with its copious blooms in my garden and containers. I love the mounded, garden edging lobelia found in plant packs, and I also love the trailing lobelia found in small pots at the nursery. This is one hot, attention-getting plant!

13. Dianthus

Also known as Sweet William or pinks, the annual dianthus is another terrific garden edger due to its short stature. Leaving dianthus in the ground at the end of the season is a good idea, as it sometimes rewards me by returning the following spring. This annual is mostly sold as white, pink and red flowers or a combination of the three colors.

14. Streptocarpella

A new plant for my garden, streptocarpella has thick, succulent, fuzzy leaves. Long, black, wiry stems bear feminine flowers on this upright and spiller plant. A shady area is best for streptocarpella, and it makes an excellent houseplant at the end of the season.

15. Lantana

Low-maintenance and loads of blooms sums up lantana. Flowers come in many colors, but I prefer the cultivars that combine several colors in one large cluster. Both the flower and foliage are stunning. Foliage is stiff and rough, keeping its tidy shape in the heat. In addition, lantana is drought-tolerant.

As fall frost brings an end to the growing season, annual plants don't need to finish early. For me it's all about maintaining color for as long as possible. Of course, these annuals can be planted early in the spring, a week or two before the last average frost.


For more frost-tolerant ideas, here are non-flowering annuals that can handle light frost.

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum')

Fiber optic grass (Isolepsis cernus)

Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

Creeping wire vine (Muehlenbeckia axillaris)

Carex grass (Carex flagellifera)

Kale (Brassica oleracea)

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria)

Duckfoot ivy (Hedera helix)

Corkscrew (Juncus effuses)

Photo Descriptions:

1. 'Sunsatia Raspberry' (Nemesia hybrid)

2. 'Flirtation Orange' (Diascia hybrid)

3. 'Soprano Light Purple' (Osteospermum hybrid)

4. 'Callie Orange' (Calibrachoa)

5. 'Blushing Princess' (Lobularia hybrid)

6. 'Charmed Wine' (Oxalis)

7. Bacopa 'Snowstorm Giant Snowflake' (Sutera cordata)

8. 'Superbena Large Lilac Blue' (Verbena hybrid)

9. 'Butterfly' and 'Vanilla Butterfly) (Argyranthemum frutescens)

10. 'Victoria blue' (Salvia farinacea)

11. 'Karalee Petite Pink' (Gaura lindheimeri)

12. 'Lucia Dark Blue' (Lobelia erinus)

13. 'Elation Red' (Dianthus)

14. "Concord Blue Streptocarpella" (Streptocarpus saxorum)

15. 'Luscious Citrus Blend' and 'Patriot Weeper Sunbeam' (Lantana camara)

Michelle Mero Riedel is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener.




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