The Power of Annuals

Each year, 15,000 annuals are planted at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Here, Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ and Coleus ‘Keystone Kopper’ dress up the Reptile House.

Winning Plants for Summer Color

 By Teresa Woodard

In the gardening world, annual plants are often the step-child to the perennial darlings.  But Scott Beuerlein, horticulturalist at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, opened my eyes to the virtues of annuals at the recent Plant Trials Day hosted at the beautifully landscaped zoo.

He says the colorful flowers can’t be beat for their “50 MPH wow”. They may only last for a season, but their color is nonstop for several months.  Plus, they pack a lot of punch in container gardens,  add traffic-stopping curb appeal to the landscape, build community pride in public spaces, bring joy to senior centers and hospitals, offer nectar and pollen to several pollinators, and even minimize weeds when densely planted.

Here are ten favorites at the zoo.

Pennisetum 'Rubrum' (purple fountain grass) and Flame Thrower Coleus 'Spiced Curry'

Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’ (purple fountain grass) and Flame Thrower Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’

Coleus 'Premium Sun Crimson Gold with Sedum 'Lemon Coral' and gazania.

Coleus ‘Premium Sun Crimson Gold’ with Sedum ‘Lemon Coral’ and gazania.

Salvia 'Golden Delicious' and Zinnia 'Sahara Double Fire'

Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’ and Zinnia ‘Sahara Double Fire’

Coleus 'Lime Time' and Lantana 'Luscious Citrus Blend'

Coleus ‘Lime Time’ and Lantana ‘Luscious Citrus Blend’

Coleus 'Colorblaze Kingswood Torch', Dwarf Morning Glory 'Blue My Mind' and Lantana 'Little Lucky Pot of Gold'

Coleus ‘Colorblaze Kingswood Torch’, Dwarf Morning Glory ‘Blue My Mind’ and Lantana ‘Little Lucky Pot of Gold’

Colocasia, Lantana 'Luscious Marmalade' and Ipomoea 'Sweet Caroline Light Green' (sweet potato vine)

Colocasia, Lantana ‘Luscious Marmalade’ and Ipomoea ‘Sweet Caroline Light Green’ (sweet potato vine)

 

Impatiens 'Bounce Cherry' and Verbena 'Lanai Candy Cane'

Impatiens ‘Bounce Cherry’ and Verbena ‘Lanai Candy Cane’

Dahlia 'Mystic Illusion'

Dahlia ‘Mystic Illusion’

Coleus 'Dipt in Wine' and Euphorbia 'Glitz' with red begonias

Coleus ‘Dipt in Wine’ and Euphorbia ‘Glitz’ with red begonias

Pennisetum 'Vertigo' and Coleus 'Alabama' and dahlias.

Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ and Coleus ‘Alabama’ with dahlias.

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