Popular Annuals & Perennials

By Matt Johnson, Sales Representative, McHutchison Horticultural Distributors

Award-Winning Annuals

There are so many annuals to choose from; below are some of my favorites to add to your collection this season. Westhoff has many great annuals series—seven varieties won “Best of Show” this year at the Colorado State University Trials. Add some of these to your outdoor living space this season, and you will enjoy their flower power all summer long!

Chameleon Calibrachoa ‘Indian Summer Improved’

These plants are the first of their kind and a must-have in your summer flower planters. Offered in many vibrant colors, they continually change color throughout the season, reacting to the amount of sunlight. Their color remains bold, and they thrive in both container and landscape plantings.

Substitutions/Alternative Options:

  • Calibrachoa ‘Candy Shop’ – a bold and bright bicolor series with many great colors to choose from that will make you feel like a ‘kid in a candy shop’
  • Cuphea hyssopifolia ‘Floriglory’ – flowers in bright hot sun, lots of ‘flower power’ with this series, sure to brighten up garden borders

Crazytunia ‘Blue Ice’

A winning petunia series that is catching consumers’ eyes at the garden center, ‘Blue Ice’ is bright purple and white patterns with a unique frost look that adds nice texture. This series has a wide variety of colors to choose from, that hold their colors and patterns all season, making them great for your hanging baskets or combination planters.

Substitutions/Alternative Options:

  • Verbena ‘Voodoo’ – works well in combinations alongside petunias, a series with unique starburst patterns in the flowers and many bright colors
  • Portulaca ‘Colorblast’ – the new standard to for drought-tolerant color in the garden

Lobelia ‘Hot – Waterblue’

Even through the heat of the summer, this lobelia continues to thrive. At trials, it has performed beautifully in baskets and mixed containers, but can also be stunning accents or borders in the landscape. Add this to the garden this summer and enjoy the blue and white flowers all season.

Substitutions/Alternative Options:

  • Scaevola ‘Scalora’ – great blues and purples to add to the garden, flowers thrive in the heat of the summer season

Darko Deep Red Geranium

Consumers at retail are attracted to the dark leaf form and how striking the bright colors pop off the leaves. More compact than your typical zonal geranium, they make great companions to your favorite bedding plants in the garden. An impactful improvement to this garden staple, you’ll be pleased to enjoy this CSU award-winning annual in your garden and patio planters this summer.

Perennials with Pizazz

Perennial gardening is a great way to grow your garden each season, adding new colors and textures, which you can enjoy more as your plants mature year after year. Below are a few varieties which you’ll surely enjoy this season!

Salvia ‘Spring King’

This early flowering Salvia has triple the ‘flower power’ than other varieties on the market, and has a nice compact growth habit. Its habit is clean and easy for growers and makes a bold color statement in the garden, creating a nice border in your perennial garden.

Substitutions/Alternative Options:

  • Agastache aurantiaca ‘Kudos Silver Blue’ – hardy, flowers all summer
  • Lavandula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’ – a classic for the perennial garden, offering a wonderful fragrance

Gaillardia SpinTop – ‘Orange Halo’

My favorite variety in the SpinTop series is another early flowering perennial. This compact gaillardia brings a nice sunflower-like look to the garden, adding yellows, oranges and reds to your perennial mix. It’s a drought-tolerant plant that will thrive in our full sun, warm summer days and last through the fall.

Substitutions/Alternative Options:

  • Delosperma cooperi ‘Jewel of Desert’ – a great performing spreading perennial, blooming in dry sunny areas
  • Monarda didyma ‘Balmy Purple’ – attracts hummingbirds and bees, pollinating your plants and keeping the garden blooming all season

About the contributor: Matt Johnson is a Sales Representative at McHutchison Horticultural Distributors, providing the best and most service-oriented wholesale distribution of plants and related products in North America. After growing up in his family’s floral and greenhouse operation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and graduating from Michigan State University, Matt worked as a garden center manager at Bachman’s in Minneapolis and then as a manager of a wholesale floral operation in Milwaukee. He and his wife Dana relocated to Colorado, where he is now McHutchison’s rep for the territory consisting of Colorado, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.