Short and sweet annuals

May 30, 1999|By Kathy Van Mullekom | Kathy Van Mullekom,Knight Ridder/Tribune

Trees and shrubs establish the year-round lines of your landscape. Summer annuals add the zing.

Feed them regularly and they will continue to entertain you with color until fall frost arrives.

Why the name annual? A plant is an annual when it flowers, produces seed and dies within a single growing season. Many of what we call annuals are actually perennials in more tropical areas.

Coleus, geraniums, impatiens and begonias are planted as annuals in this area but they can be brought indoors to winter in your home and then returned to the garden each spring after frost is past.

For several years, the lure of perennials has dominated the gardening scene. New arrivals in annuals, however, are pushing these flower-power plants back to the front of the garden.

After all, there's nothing like pots of geraniums or impish impatiens to tell us gardening season is in full swing. Welcome these annuals into your garden family:

* 'Seashell' impatiens: One of the most popular flowering plants used by home and professional gardeners is the impatiens. Impatiens thrives in partial sun to full, dense shade. What else could a gardener want?

How about a bright yellow flower, say the color of a marigold.

Enter the 'Seashell' impatiens. Seashells produce a mass of cupped-shaped flowers that come in a variety of colors -- yellow, peach, apricot, tangerine, papaya and passion. They are grown much like regular impatiens. Seashells, however, are more responsive to fertilization. Bodger Botanicals, developers of the new hybrid, suggests a liquid fertilizer -- 20-20-20 -- two weeks after placing them in the garden. Reapply fertilizer every four to six weeks or when plants begin to yellow. Too much fertilizer results in vegetative growth and reduced flowering.

See Bodger Seeds at http:// www.bodger.com/.

* 'New Guinea' impatiens: Often called sunshine impatiens because it tolerates more sun than regular impatiens, 'New Guinea' impatiens is sturdy and offers bright colors with multicolored leaves. It works well in pots. Feed it often and sit back to enjoy the sights. 'New Guineas' come in orange, deep coral, salmon, pinks, purples and fuchsia. Look for the smaller 'Baby Bonita' line with smaller stems and leaves and free-flowing flowers. Their compactness makes them ideal for baskets, window boxes and smaller flower bowls. Various 'New Guinea' impatiens are sold at local garden centers; also see http://www.ecke.com/.

* Cascadias: These mini versions of the Supertunia bloom with hundreds of small flowers blanketing the thick foliage. You'll like 'Yellow Eye,' a white variety with a deep yellow throat. The petunia spreads and drapes nicely, making it a great addition for pots, baskets and window boxes as well as rock gardens and ledges. Cascadias also come in pink, purple, salmon, blue and red. Developed by Paul Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, Calif.; see http://www. ecke.com/.

* Wave of petunias: Several years ago gardeners were treated to the new 'Wave' hybrid petunia, first in purple and then in pink. Now the super spreading petunia comes in 'Rose Wave' and 'Misty Lilac Wave.' In full sun with regular feeding, they grow like a weed and flower nonstop. In fact, the series was derived from a nuisance weed in South America. Developed by Ball Seed; see http://www. ballseed.com/.

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