The first flowers for your spring garden...
1. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia): A delicate carpet of tiny, white, pink or lavender flowers with a subtle sweet scent. Since this annual prefers the cooler weather, plants can be set out in early spring or fall. Thrives in full sun or partial shade, blooming from May thru October. As a low grower, it’s perfect for walkways, containers & borders.
2. African Daisy (Osteospurmum): This daisy-like, annual blooms in pastel petals of pink, lavender, yellow, orange or white with a contrasting dark center. It blooms non-stop in early spring and early summer in hot summer climates. Eye-catching in containers, beds and borders. Matures from 1 to 3 ft. tall in full sun. Butterflies love them.
3. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum): From saturated to pastel colors, snapdragons bloom profusely through cooler, spring weather-- blooming from bottom to top. They tend to stop flowering in the heat of mid-summer, but if you keep plants watered, they will perk up again in autumn. Depending on the variety, snaps can mature from 6 to 48 in. tall in full sun to partial shade. Attracts bumblebees.
4. Nemesia: This annual flowers abundantly in a rainbow of colors and is best grown in spring (April - June) during warm days and cool nights. Nemesia prefer an evenly moist soil, whether grown in full sun or part shade. Set out tender plants after last frost date (May 15). Typically grows or trails 6-12 inches. Unbeatable in an early spring container.
5. Pansy (Viola x wittrockiana): Cheerful faces look towards the sun! A must-have for spring containers, groundcovers and garden beds. Choose from a palette of colors and bi-colors. Blooms spring through fall but gets 'leggy' in extreme summer heat. Attracts butterflies.
6. Million Bells or Super Bells (Calibrachoa): An abundancy of small petunia-like flowers mound and trail in shades of violet, pink, red, magenta, yellow, white and bi-colors... a classic annual for hanging baskets and containers. Super Bells prefer full sun (and a bit of shade so they don’t dry out); fairly moist soil but not soggy and a regular dose of fertilizer. Prune back in mid-summer for renwed blooming when plants become ‘leggy’.
7. Persian Buttercup (Ranunculus): Rose-like blossoms feature many layers of tissue paper-thin petals in a range of colors from creamy white to pale yellow, apricot, coral, pink and burgundy. This plant prefers spring’s full sun or bright light, but dislikes heat. Plant in well-draining soil--a high quality soil-less mix is best. Welcome spring with fabulous Ranunculus in containers or window boxes.
8. Lobelia (Lobelia spp.): No one can resist the violet-blue flowers of this annual herb, lobelia. Plant them as a compact or trailing plant, a groundcover, in containers, along walkways or in hanging baskets. Thriving in full sun, cool temps and moist rich soil, lobelia can be a low maintenance plant. However, if our Chicago weather is too much for them, they are still worth having... even if only as a spring fling!