Some like it hot! Set the stage for some drama this spring with the lush beauty found in the rich floral hues of Strawberry Red, Pink Yarrow, Orange Flame and Kale Green--a few of the trending colors for 2017. Simply, keep these low maintenance plants watered as directed and fertilized to keep them blooming from spring to frost.
Make it easy to express your personal style with pots that rock! By choosing from these low maintenance, flowering annuals for hanging baskets, patios, entryway containers and garden beds, your plantings will surprise you without spending precious, beach time in the garden.
Red Hot Annuals: Low maintenance flowering annuals that won't disappoint.
Heavenly … Angel Wing & Dragon Wing Begonia (Begonia coccinea)
As members of the fibrous cane begonia group, Angel Wing and Dragon Wing begonias grow upright with arching, thick stems. These annuals are vigorous growers— looking more attractive as summer unfolds. These low maintenance begonias look magnificent in hanging baskets, containers or planted in garden beds. The arching, flowered stems look especially statuesque in containers but they also look good planted in groupings in the garden, too. The glossy, wing-shaped leaves are a beautiful contrast to the blush pink, hot pink or sizzling red flowers that hang from underneath nearly every set of leaves.
Mature Size: 14 to 18-inches tall and 15 to 18-inches wide…size can vary.
Light: part sun to part shade
Best features: Heat tolerant. No deadheading needed.
Bloom time: June through frost.
Bonus: The ever-blooming, red or pink flowers attract hummingbirds.
Tip: When the young plants are six inches tall, pinch out the tips of the main stems to encourage a bushier plant.
Tropical Heat Wave… Lantana (Lantana camara)
Lantana is a perky, flowering annual that loves hot sun and dry soil—perfect for poolside plantings, hanging baskets, around a mailbox or in smaller containers.
Mature Size: 20-inches tall for upright varieties and other types will trail.
Light: full sun
Best features: Lantana is easy to care for and blooms heavily in sunny and dry conditions. While newly planted Lantana require frequent watering, once established, these hardy plants require little maintenance and are even tolerant of somewhat dry conditions. In fact, a good soaking about once a week should keep them relatively happy. Look for the ‘Bandana’ series with their larger flower clusters and huge range of tropical colors from cherry-red, citrus yellow and orange to sunrise color combinations.
Bloom time: June through frost. Make it easy on yourself! Fertilize when planting and feed it occasionally after that initial fertilizing. They flower more profusely if not fertilized heavily. Simply cut plants back if they become ‘leggy’.
Bonus: Butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators love them.
Sassy… SunPatiens (Impatiens x hybrida ‘SunPatiens’)
What blooming plant could be easier? SunPatiens are a cross between the New Guinea and the wild impatiens. These sturdy-stemmed annuals thrive in full sun or shade, heat or humidity, and bloom consistently from spring to frost. SunPatiens are available in hot and cool shades of red, pink and orange. Or, you can cool it down with cool, white flowers.
Mature Size: 18-24-inches tall and 24-inch spread. Fewer plants are required to fill an area because SunPatiens grow faster and larger than the common impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). Choose your plants in either compact or spreading varieties.
Light: Beautiful, tropical colors glow in shade or sun in hanging baskets, garden beds and containers.
Best features: SunPatiens have larger flowers that don’t need deadheading. They bloom on dense, bushy plants in sun or shade. Leaves are tougher and less prone to disease. SunPatiens can stand up to high heat, humidity, rain and gusty winds—sounds perfect for our Chicago area summers.
Bloom time: Spring through frost. They are low-maintenance plants but they are thirsty. The trick for growing the best SunPatiens is to give them plenty of water and to add a few inches of mulch when first planted. The mulch insulates the soil to keep the moisture in and the weeds out. Fertilize occasionally (especially when planted), but too much plant food will slow the flowering. Simply cut plants back if they become too tall or ‘leggy’.
Bonus: The disease ‘Downy Mildew’ that has hit the common impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) does NOT affect the SunPatiens.
Super Heroes to the Rescue … Bounce and Big Bounce Impatiens (Impatiens hybrid Bounce Series)
These are the real superheroes of the impatiens world. They flower non-stop from spring to frost and are resistant to the downy mildew disease that affects regular impatiens (Impatiens walleriana). Look for them in pink, lilac, red and shades in between.
Mature Size: Bounce: 14 to 20-inches tall and wide. Big Bounce: 20 to 30-inches tall and 20-36 inches wide.
Light: Plant in shade to partial shade in a rich, well-drained soil. Keep soil moist especially in heat of summer.
Best features: They have the ability to ‘bounce back’ in the heat of summer if you miss a watering. Sturdy stems support a mounding, tidy shape.
Bloom time: Spring through hard frost. Make it easy on yourself! Fertilize with slow- release fertilizer granules when you plant.
Bonus: This annual will give you mounds of flowers—more flowers than green foliage once they get started!
Undemanding … Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum)
The popular, big flowered Geranium has great curb appeal with their clusters of colorful blossoms. They bloom from spring to frost and barely let you know when you forget to water them. Gorgeous tropical colors pink, orange, salmon, red, violet and white look good in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and in garden beds. This Pelargonium is actually a tender perennial but it isn’t frost hardy in our colder zone.
Mature Size: 1-3 feet tall
Light: Bright light to full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Although, many geraniums grow well in part-shade, too.
Water: The key to watering geraniums is to water them deeply and then let the soil dry out before the next watering. In extreme heat, check soil. If it is dry 2 inches down, it’s time to water.
Bloom time: They thrive in the warm weather—blooming from spring through a light frost. Make it easy on yourself by fertilizing them with high phosphorous, slow-release fertilizer granules or Milorganite at planting time to keep blooms coming all summer.
Different varieties: Geraniums are available in many other groups. They are all treated as annuals in our zone.
Fancy-leaved: Some zonal geraniums have fancier leaves with colorful margins in yellow, white, burgundy or coral.
Ivy: The ivy-leaf geranium has a trailing habit and works well in window baskets, containers and hanging baskets. These geraniums also can tolerate more shade.
Martha Washington or Regal: The flowers are larger with frilly petals. The flowers come in orange, purple, red, burgundy and bi-colors. They don’t mind part shade.
Scented: Scented geraniums are grown mostly for their aromatic leaves in fragrances such as apple, rose, mint or citrus. The flowers are smaller and more subtle.