Six more new annual flowers that will be available to you in Canada next spring
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

November 27, 2016

Above, Artemisia stelleriana ‘Quicksilver’ dusty miller; two shots of ‘Neon Red’ New Guinea Impatiens; Below, Ipomoea batatas Sweet Caroline Sweetheart ‘Jet Black’ Sweet Potato vine.
Photos all by the introducers.





This week’s first new annual is a geranium, or more correctly Pelargonium x hortorum. It’s specific cultivar name is ‘Cerise Sizzle’ geranium. It is the newest member of the Dümmen Orange company’s Zonal Geranium group which features dark foliage, medium vigour and the best zonal heat tolerance on the market. Vibrant blooms atop well-branched geranium foliage make this an eye-popping display perfect for high-traffic areas, window boxes, or patio containers. The plants stand out in landscapes, large pots and baskets. It is an annual flower named for the horseshoe-shaped band of dark color in the leaves of most varieties. Sorry, my photo is missing!

Geraniums provide pockets of color in any sunny spot. Group three or more together for color impact in flower borders or along walks and pathways. They’re classics in containers, by themselves or mixed with other plants. Geraniums are also grown as standards-a single stem is trained to the desired height with a bushy globe of flowers and leaves above it. Their brighter colors are very elegant all alone and pair well with flowers in equally bright colors, like portulaca or nasturtium.

Allow to dry out slightly between waterings and deadhead regularly. Grows to an average height and width of 30-36 cm (12-14”).

In the ground, grow in average to organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Water regularly throughout growing season. Best in full sun, but appreciates some light shade in the heat of the day. Promptly deadhead spent flowering stems to promote additional flowering and to maintain plant appearance. Pinch stems to prevent leggyness and promote bushiness. Although plants may be overwintered indoors, many gardeners simply grow them as annuals and repurchase new plants each spring. F1 hybrids may be grown from seed, and are often available from nurseries in flats. If overwintering is desired, several options are available: (1) as a houseplant by bringing containers indoors in fall before frost and placing in a bright, sunny but cool window with reduced watering or (2) as a dormant plant by bringing containers inside before first frost and placing them in a cool dark corner of the basement or frost free area of a garage. Dormant overwintering is generally advisable in order to promote the most vigorous flowering the following season. Cuttings may also be taken from favorite plants in late summer for overwintering or in early spring from overwintered plants.

The second new annual for next year is a trusty old (but new cultivar) dusty miller. Artemisia stelleriana ‘Quicksilver’ is the name. According to Proven Winners, the introducers, it is ideal for low water consumption combinations and general landscapes where the lacy texture and cool silver foliage goes well with everything. With a not-too-tall height (15-25 cm/6-10”), and a spread of 30-76 cm (just over two feet), its foliage will artfully weave its way through combinations, playing well with other medium-vigour plants. In landscapes, it is useful as a low-maintenance spreader to fill in sunny spaces. Homeowners may certainly use it to contrast with hot pinks and oranges or to create a cool look for hot spaces when paired with white flowers.

More silver foliage, please! This new dusty miller variety is light textured but substantial, compact and branched and tough as nails. Can spread to 60 cm (24") in the garden. This is a low, compact selection, similar in appearance to Dusty Miller, but perfectly hardy. Plants form a spreading mat of bright silvery-white scalloped leaves. Terrific for edging, groundcover, or in mixed containers, even hanging baskets. Clip back hard in mid-summer, when stems begin to grow upright, in order to maintain a low mat-like effect. Flowers are insignificant. This was introduced to North America by the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens.

Last week I wrote about Angelonia angustifolia ) ‘Cherry Red’ summer snapdragon; this wee I have another Angelonia. This one is a hybrid and is known as ‘Perfectly Pink’ summer snapdragon.

Angelonia are heat-loving plants that will grow most vigorously and bloom best when the heat is on. They are plants best planted in mid-spring or later, since they won't really grow until the temperatures warm up. Angelonia will tolerate wet feet and a fair amount of drought. The plants are easy care with no deadheading needed. A bit of fertilizer or some compost in a garden bed is usually all that is needed for these plants to thrive. Due to their heat-loving nature they are one of the plants that can be planted even during the heat of mid-summer.

Don't forget that Angelface are great long lasting cut flowers with a slight grape soda fragrance. Try some in a flower arrangement this year and see for yourself! An application of fertilizer or compost on garden beds and regular fertilization of plants in pots will help ensure the best possible performance. Sorry, my photo of this one is also missing!

Fourth on the list this week is a New Guinea Impatiens—‘Neon Red’ Impatiens. The New Guineas are not subject to the mildew that has been affecting many of the common types. New Guinea Impatiens are one of the most beautiful of spring annuals. A native of New Guinea, these offer a wide range of colors on large showy blooms with foliage that is strong and elegant. Gardeners around the world love the overall beauty and versatility of New Guinea Impatiens. They like filtered light and well-drained soil.

The fifth new plant this week is another grown only for its foliage—Impomoea batatas Sweet Caroline Sweetheart ‘Jet Black’ sweet potato vine. Replacing Sweetheart ‘Purple’ this year is a much deeper purple selection that retains its super saturated colouration even in full sun and hot climates. ‘Jet Black’ is well-matched to Sweetheart ‘Lime’ in leaf size and overall plant size, making it an easy substitute in dramatic combinations where only black will do.

Versatile, the sweet potato goes well in baskets, containers or landscapes. It grows 20-30 cm (8-12”) tall and 51-91 cm (20-36”) wide.

My final annual of the 12 new ones for next year’s garden is a Canna lily—Canna x generalis ‘Toucan Red’. These new cannas are fast, vigorous, highly disease resistant and easy to grow. They are ideal for warm climates where they flower like crazy in the heat. ‘Toucan Red bears deep red-orange flowers and has lush green foliage. It grows to 76-122 cm (30-48”) tall and 46-61 cm (18-24”) wide.


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