Four New Annual Flowers For Your 2016 Summer Garden
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

February 7, 2016

Above, Monarch Primrose milkweed; and Santa Cruz ‘San Francisco’ begonia. Be-low, Senorita Mi Amor cleome; and Proud Mari marigold.




Unlike the woody plants and rose bush cultivars mentioned in the three previous weeks, as far as annual flowers are concerned there are many more than the other categories.

Monarch Primrose milkweed (Asclepias PPAF) is the first new annual I want to tell you about this week. Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its green and white variegated foliage that is tinged with red, orange and pink tips on the leaves. Flowers are orange with red sepals. A great plant for Monarch butterflies and an attractive addition to containers as well.

This variety is great to use in the landscape or in container gardens to bring life to your patio, not only for its amazing color but to attract butterflies. It growing height is 30 cm (one ft.).

This plant is a very important introduction for the company Hort Couture, and they hope to raise awareness about Monarch butterflies and inspire consumers to get involved in butterfly gardening!

‘Monarch Promise’ is a tropical milkweed, so it grows best in warmer temperatures. It was found by a butterfly breeder in Florida because she used it on her farm for its food source for her Monarch caterpillars. The introducer has been working on this plant for quite a few years and is very excited to bring it to market exclusively.

This is an easy plant to grow but it does require full sun and will not tolerate any amount of shade. Texture of the foliage is coarse. Stands erect and sometimes ascending. Covered with small hairs. Leaf arrangement is opposite and attachment is sessile or petiolate with short petioles up to 3 mm (¾ in.) long.

My second plant this week is Santa Cruz ‘San Francisco’ begonia (Begonia boliviensis) which is a new bright salmon colour. While generally grown from cuttings, this one is a competitive option to cuttings, and thus no royalties.

The Santa Cruz begonias have proven very popular with landscapers due to their incredible tolerance for tough weather conditions. Now there is a new colour added to the range. The growers (Benary) say the plants are as tough as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco!

During the summer, they become one of the most stylish and exciting plants for shade. Hardy to Zone 10. They grow to about 30 cm (one ft.) in height.

I first wrote about these begonias many years ago when they were first available. The one I featured then was B. b. ‘Bonfire’ which was a scarlet red and performed very well for us all summer here.

For our third annual plant this week I have chosen a plant that I wrote about for a couple of years about five years back—the new Cleomes. The ones that I wrote about previously were the original C. Senorita Rosalita and the newer C. Senorita Blanca. And now we have a more-pink-flowering cultivar in C. Senorita Mi Amor™.

Cleomes (spider flowers) have been around for a long time. But there was talk! Thorns. Sticky leaves and stems. There were even Cleomes, some whispered, that smelled like s-k-u-n-k. Unless they were deadheaded, the varieties with seed pods looked sad. For others if the temperature rose above 100 degrees there were no more flowers and the bottom leaves, they shriveled and fell off.

Now, Senorita Rosalita having restored Cleome's reputation—magnificent dark leaves on the 100 – 150 cm (3-5 ft) tall upright branches are topped by clusters of bright, lavender pink flow-ers. And they bloom with abandon from late spring through fall. These plants scoff at heat, and renounce all thorns and sticky substances. Deadheading is no more. All they ask is that you plant them in full sun in a place where water drains freely through the soil. Grow me, and should you ever smell a certain aroma, at least you will know it is not your Cleomes that are the source.

Now there’s a cleome to fit just about every size and shade of pink you need! If you love the full landscape size of Señorita Rosalita. but need a softer pink tone, you’ve got it with Señorita Mi Amor™. You’ll fall in love with her soft blush pink blooms that are borne profusely from spring to frost.

Unlike other cleomes these new ones will not self-seed, don't get bare knees, they aren't sticky and they don't have thorns. Her flowers are smaller than classic cleome, but she flowers all over the plant not just at the top. Since she doesn't self-seed you don't have to worry about cleome seedlings trying to take over your garden. She is great for adding height to garden beds and have dark green foliage. Deadheading isn't necessary.

The fourth plant for this week is Proud Mari marigold (Tagetes). The new Proud Mari marigold series really stands out in a crowd! These fully double flowers have a uniform bloom time and height across all three vibrant colours. Plus, their thick, sturdy stems provide the extra support needed to withstand shipping stress and hold beautifully at retail and in the garden. Proud Mari is sure to bring that extra something into your program.

All three in this dwarf, compact series (yellow, gold and orange) produce beautiful fully double flowers and will give an excellent performance in any landscape. Thicker flower stems provide extra support for large flower heads.

This small marigold grows to a height of 25 – 30 cm (10 – 12 in.) height and width.

Next week some more new annual flowers including an almost black-coloured Salvia.


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