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More new annual plants for your 2018 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 11, 2018

Above. Pennisetum glaucum ‘Copper Prince’; Begonia inter-specific ‘Megawatt Red Bronze Leaf’; and Osteospermum ecklonis ‘Akila Grand Canyon Mixture’. Below, Antirrhinum majus ‘Snapshot Appleblossom’; Viola x wittrockianaa ‘Cool Wave Raspberry’; and Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Raspberry Ripple’.
All photos courtesy of the developers and introducers.




This week, six more new annual flowers that you may well wish to purchase for your 2018 garden.

The first one is really a grass (actually a millet!). Pennisetum glaucum ‘Copper Prince’--This cultivar begins as a light caramel colour, deepening to copper as it sends up rosy, foxtail-type panicles. Rose-bronze panicles add late summer interest. Extremely tolerant of heat, ornamental millet will thrive along your fences, foundations, or driveways. Ornamental millet also looks great in borders or containers. Plants will lend a tropical look to your patio or deck. For maximum impact, combine ornamental millet with yellow, green, pink, or white flowers.

Plants grow 60 – 90 cm (2-3’) tall, and 45 cm (1½-2’) wide. Named 'Best Novelty' at the 2017 Colorado State University Flower Trial Garden.

Grow Ornamental Millet in Full sun or part shade. If started indoors young plants will be green, and will begin to colour within a few days of being placed in the sun. Plants tolerate high heat, thus can be planted against fences and walls, along driveways in hot spots that would burn most plants. Seeds are loved by goldfinches.

Plant Ornamental Millet Seeds: sow seeds in individual 2-4 in. containers, 2-3 seeds per pot, and cover with 1 cm of soil. Kept at 22 – 26 C. (72-78°F.), germination is in 3-10 days. Can direct sow into prepared seed beds, after the soil has warmed, and all danger of frost has passed. Thin to 30 cm (12”) apart.

Nice, broad plant shows off deep caramel to bronze foliage. The accent of the rose-bronze panicles adds to late Summer interest in the garden.

The second new annual for this week is a begonia, specifically called B. Interspecific ‘Megawatt Red Bronze Leaf’. Easy to grow – powers through humidity and heat, and tolerates drier periods between waterings. Outstanding performer flowers continuously from late spring into fall. Use in big tubs, borders and landscapes.

Megawatt gives you even more opportunities for 2018 with another colour addition plus two key timing/habit improvements. This fresh, high-energy begonia option has quickly proven itself in the marketplace with great timing benefits, one-of-a-kind varieties, ultimate garden power and more. These bigger-than-life hybrids offer the earliest colour to early-bird gardeners.

Growth height is 51 – 71 cm (20 – 28”) and width is 41 – 61 cm (16 – 24”).

The next new plant for this week is an Osteospermum which previously were nearly all grown vegetatively.

The new grower favourite, the Akila series provides the best seed grown osteos for both habit and seed quality…that offer a top-quality series in packs and pots…provides landscapes with an economical and upscale choice for mass plantings and containers… and satisfies consumers so they’ll be back for more! The most compact seed series available, Akila plants branch well without pinching, and all colors flower in the same week. In the garden, the full plants show off beautiful flowers and are drought tolerant once established.

The series grow to a height and width of 41 – 51 cm (16 – 20”).

A dwarf garden snapdragon is the next plant for this week. Antirrhinum majus ‘Snapshot Appleblossom’ is its name.

As you will see from the accompanying photo it has a nice clean white colour that is brushed with soft yellow and rose tones.

The old and now well-known snapdragon is a short-lived tender perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10. In Ontario it is easily grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. Avoid overhead watering. Start seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before last frost date or purchase starter plants. Set out plants/seedlings after last frost date. Pinch stem tips of young plants to promote bushiness and pre-vent leggy growth. Deadhead spent flowers to prolong bloom. If flowering slows drastically after the first flush of bloom, consider cutting plants back hard and fertilizing. Although well-mulched plants in protected locations may overwinter in such areas as Vancouver Island, and although cuttings may be taken in fall for overwintering, snapdragons are inexpensive plants that are perhaps best repurchased each spring. Nurseries commonly sell plants in cell/six packs. Always purchase fungal resistant plants/seeds. Snapdragons, like pansies, are often planted in fall, south of USDA Zone 7, where they will not only survive the winter, but will bloom as long as temperatures stay above freezing.

These dwarf ‘snaps’ grow to 15 – 25 cm (6 – 10”) tall and 25 – 30 cm (10 – 12”) wide.

Would you like to know about a new spreading pansy (or Viola)? The new one for this year is Viola x wittrockiana ‘Cool Wave Raspberry’. The Cool Wave series adds Raspberry, a rich velvety rosy-purple that has white around each flower centre. It grows 15 – 20 cm (6 – 8”) high and 61 – 76 cm (24 – 30”) wide.

And, finally for this week a new double zinnia—Z. marylandica ‘Zahara Raspberry Ripple’. It is a new bi-colour in the Zahara series. Colour apparently will vary under different environmental conditions; cooler temperatures accentuating the rose and heat making the white more prevalent.

It grows 41 – 51 cm (16 – 20”) tall and wide.

I have another six new ones to go so perhaps I’ll deal with those next week.


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