Top Annual Picks for St. Louis

10 Annuals Everyone Should Try

As we near the last frost date (think mid-April), I start to get the Annual itch.  Just the thought of putting the dull, bitter days behind me has me thinking of the vibrant annuals that are just waiting to be planted.  This month I’ve decided to share my top 10 favorite annuals.

Now, I’ll be honest, this was not easy.  My list started out at about 23 but I thought that seemed a bit much so I decided to narrow it down to 10 tried and true, totally non-boring, not your everyday, you seriously have to try these annuals.  So here it is – My top 10 Annuals for St. Louis:  (In no special order because narrowing the list down to 10 was hard enough.  Although I did mention some as my top 5 and I suppose I could have listed them first but didn’t.  Anyhoo…enjoy!)
1)  Zinnia (Profusion or Zahara):  Seems I’m starting out slow and boring, but trust me on this one.  This Zinnia will only be about 8”-10” tall, similar width so you can spread them out a bit when you plant them in your landscape beds.  What is so spectacular about a Zinnia?  The fact that these love the heat and the sun; they can tolerate somewhat dry ground and bloom non-stop!  This is not a sales pitch – they bloom on and on and on….
2)  Angelonia:  This plant actually makes it to my top 5!  I get excited over this one…Angelonia loves the heat; they have spiky purple, pink, white, or bi-color blooms and an average size of 10” (depending on variety).  Angelonia is a showstopper in both containers and landscape beds.  I know it doesn’t sound spectacular or different from any of the others, but this is a great plant for everyone with sun.  Plus it reminds me of Edvard Munchs painting ‘The Scream’…don’t ask…I don’t know…it’s just one of those things.

3)  Calibrichoa (Million Bells):  Calibrichoa will cascade beautifully over the edge of any container and the color assortment these plants come in is phenomenal.  Why would I choose these over petunias?  To start, I love the size of the foliage and flowers.  I think in a mixed container it is less overwhelming than a petunia and yet the constant blooms and quantity of blooms allow this plant to stand out.  As long as you remember to water and have it planted in full sun, you will be impressed!
4)  Euphorbia ‘Silver Fog’:  Great on its own or awesome in mixed containers.  In a container…think of it as the baby’s breath that is used in a florist’s flower arrangement.  This deceivingly soft, delicate foliage stands up to the heat and sun with non stop flowers!
Dragon Wing Begonia
5)  Begonia (Dragon Wing):  Great plants for sun or partial shade.  Dragon Wings are constant bloomers in pink or red.  They can get large and are often used in hanging baskets because they have a slightly cascading habit as they mature although I have used them in mixed containers and landscape beds and have been thrilled with there performance in all locations.
6)  Lantana:  This is part of my top 5 because of the non stop blooms, extreme tolerance to heat and sun as well as being deer resistant.  These are great for around pools in landscape beds or in containers.  Try them, but be sure to pack them in as they are somewhat slow growing, especially in the spring and early summer.

7)  Scaevola:  Beautiful cascading plant for hanging baskets or containers.  The fan shape blooms never stop!  Try this plant once and you will be hooked.
8)  Coleus (Oh so many awesome varieties):  Top 5!  I love them in landscape beds, containers, on their own or as an accent.  Some varieties require full sun and some require shade so they can go anywhere!  I am a huge fan and think they are underused because everyone always wants flowers.  Try at least one coleus and I guarantee you won’t miss flowers one bit!

9)  Torenia:  One plant that tops my favorite 5 list.  Why?  Cascading bloomer that goes in shade – enough said.  That is a rare and beautiful thing my friends.  I have found that morning sun and afternoon shade produce the best blooming environment.

10)  Bidens:  This one is a top 5 and can be somewhat hard to find (crossing my fingers that I can come up with it), but if you can find it – buy it.  I’ll be honest it looks a bit weedy in a 4” pot in the spring and certainly takes a bit to come into its own.  But given time, water and heat this annual is spectacular.  The yellow blooms never stop and while it appears to be a messy plant to begin with, it stays surprisingly neat in a mixed container.  Try it once – you’ll thank me for it!