Just curious - how are your annuals doing?

diggerdee zone 6 CTJuly 31, 2014

I had trouble finding decent-looking annuals this spring, so I feel like I started out behind the 8-ball to begin with. I did, a few weeks after buying some, find a garden center with some great looking stuff, and bought another round, so I felt a bit more confident.

But now the annuals in my pots aren't looking so great. Some are doing well, and some okay, and some look exactly the same as they did when I planted them in June. And then there are a few that are eaten and brown and scrawny. I have few in the ground as well, but they aren't doing much better. Overall it just doesn't seem to be a good year for them.

I'm not talking so much about rudbeckias and cosmos and zinnias, etc., - those I start from seed and put out in the gardens and they are doing well. But I guess I mean more of the typical pot-on-the-front-steps kind of plants - petunias, geraniums, ageratum, dianthus, lobelia, begonia sweet potato vine - you get the idea.

My marigolds, on the other hand, are spectacular :)

Just wondering... oh, and pictures are always appreciated!

P.S. Sure do miss my impatiens! :(

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Dee - My New Guinea impatiens, coleus, petunias, lantana and lobelia are doing great but I won a gorgeous annual planter from a nearby nursery in a raffle that lasted less than two weeks. It was mostly blues & purples so I was thrilled to win it.

Gerbera daisies were disappointing--won't waste $$ on those next year. For some reason ageratum is doing fine as is my neighbor's sweet potato vine. I watered her plants for her last week when she was away. Her dahlias and something red I can't think of the name of are both thriving.

Sorry I don't have pics--no longer have a photo sharing host.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:30PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

I depend on annuals for continual color as the perennials come and go, but this year my annuals are just so-so. The marigolds and ageratums are fine but most others are not as lush and full as in the past.

Yes, Dee, I also miss the impatiens. The begonias I planted are still undersized... except for two beautiful Dragon Wings I bought at a local farm. These have the biggest flower petals of any I've ever grown. I'll definitely go back there next year!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 8:45AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I bought annuals late this season and although they looked okay, I think some of them may have been root bound. I always try to open up the roots in that case too. I bought petunias and marigolds to add to the vegetable beds. Just some of the marigolds are doing well. Some of the reason is that we had to buy soil for new raised beds this year and it turned out to be more clay than the soil we had in our old vegetable beds. It's a very noticeable difference, between the marigolds that were growing in our old soil [much larger, fuller] and those growing in the new soil. Which has shown me just how much of a difference the growing medium can make.

I later bought some Proven Winner annuals, Supertunias, Angelonia and a 'Blackie' Sweet Potato Vine. Planted those in three pots and the only plants that are doing well, are the Angelonias. Again, it may come down to the medium they're growing in. I did reuse potting soil from last year, with a little new added and I haven't been fertilizing nearly as much as I should be.

So next year - I need to improve my approach. [g]
Buy earlier before they are pot bound, use fresh soil and fertilize!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:07PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Yeah, PM2, I'm with ya on that. I re-use my potting soil as well, with some fresh stuff and a handful of compost thrown in around the roots, and I'm not big on fertilizing. I rarely if ever fertilize my perennials, and have to remind myself to fertilze the pots - and I usually forget to remind myself!

But I do that every year and things still usually look better. I did go around today and cut back some of the perennials, and then watered with a seaweed fertilizer. Maybe they'll perk up. While I've been good about watering, there's nothing like real rain for plants, and today I was out weeding in the perennial beds and it is BONE dry. Showers/storms forecast for the last few and the next few days, but of course it won't rain till I water the whole garden! :)

I got some of the Proven Wiinners as well, petunias, million bells (or were they supertunias?), and I have some small dahlias, begonias, coleus, verbena, lobelia, geraniums. Funny, one pot is absolutely spectacular, and I don't know why. It's in the same area as others and has the same old potting soil, lol. Who knows.

And I do wish my petunias would start trailing. I swear some of them are a foot and a half straight up in the air, lol.

Molie your begonias are gorgeous! Mine are either the same size as the day I bought them in June, or are completely eaten. Actually, I love the tuberous begonias but they are so expensive. I wouldn't mind paying for them but they also seem very fragile, and break easily. If they were stronger I'd get one or two as a focal point, since they are so beautiful.

Gardenweed, I tried the new guinea impatiens this year, and the ones in pots and in the ground are doing fairly well. I just don't care for them as much as the other impatiens, and never have. But I guess they're better than nothing. I used to use white impatiens to line the edges of my shade beds. This year had to settle for pink new guineas!


    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 6:17PM
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The tiny local nursery in our town started selling a wonderful variety of white alyssum . It is best in planters but I did put three in the ground that were left from the second 6-pack. It looks good in both places but really nice in planters because it is full and cascades over the edge of the planter.
It makes a nice combination with a salmon pink begonia. I have another planter with just dark purple coleus. Makes a nice combination.

Pink wave petunias are a big mass on my steps but I had to tell my husband to stop throwing the ice cubes from his drink into one of the pots. The center looked like is was opening up, showing dirt as if the plants were growing away from the cold cubes.

Small hanging baskets contain the white alyssum, nasturtium grown from seed and a lemon gem marigold bought as a 6-pack. These are hard to find. The foliage is lemon scented. Tiny flowers but a small bush of them.

Two pots on a small porch on east side of the house have been neglected and look ratty. They looked great for awhile but I have forgotten to fertilize and water them. A friend has spectacular pots of flowers and does heavy fertilizing. I bought the blue crystal stuff for my flowers. I used to get Peter's but In think this new brand has replaced it. One nursery was really promoting it. The ratty pot #1 has a strange colored petunia that I really like - pale yellow with a peachy blush. Looks good with a salmon pink geranium and white alyssum. The second ratty pot contains a dahlia that has stopped blooming (the 6-pack kind, not the big garden dahlia) and a yellow million bells that seem to be surviving the drought.

Nicotiana 6-packs look awful but have been neglected. Dwarf snap dragons look ok in the same neglected vicinity. We had plenty of rain so I got lazy about watering.

I have two planters with sort of ratty pansies in them. I couldn't make up my mind about pansies so bought too many but I'll never plant two pots again. They are fine in spring but require a lot of dead-heading and just don't look like summer flowers. I prefer things that cascade. Will probably replace with mums as soon as they are available. Have only seen large pots of mums so far and not the color I want.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:54PM
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I killed two pairs of Marguerites this summer (Argyranthemum, the ones with silvery leaves) one after the other - that's never happened to me before! I blamed my DH for the first pair, because I was out of the country for a week and I naturally assumed he hadn't watered. After the second pair died, in the same pots, I guess maybe he wasn't to blame after all.

I've also killed countless lobelias, but that happens every year. I buy them in 6-packs, because it's such a good deal, and then I delay planting, and then, just in case they've survived in the 6-packs, I forget to water after I plant them.

Pots of coleus looks great - I love the solid-color varieties - and geranium - the variegated 'Vancouver Centennial' is as happy as it's ever been.

Curry plant and rosemary are doing really well, so I guess my main 'pot problem' is lack of water. I used cocoa mulch this year, which was a mistake, because I just can't tell when the soil is dry. Like everyone else, I used old potting soil, with a handful of new mixed in, and once or twice added some seaweed fertilizer.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 6:04PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

DTD, you made me laugh out loud with the comment about the lobelia - "just in case they survived in the 6-packs, I forgot to water after I plant them." Yes, that's just the way it goes sometimes!

Is that a coleus in the first picture? It looks hot pink on my monitor! Lovely!

I like the purple coleus but didn't see much of it around this year. I always feel more at the mercy of the growers with coleus - I've started some from seed, but it's so slow it's just not worth it to grow it, IMO, so I have to buy what's available, and the choice of course, as in all annuals, is more limited than growing your own. I did buy some persian shield that is doing fantastically well, so I am very happy with that!


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:08PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

I agree about the beauty of coleus, especially with the striking bold colors you can find now. For some reason I forgot to get any this year. My DH misses them and said he'd remind me when next spring rolls around. I guess it's time for me to add to my Planting List for 2015.

DtD, what's that behind the rosemary in your photo? And I'm also curious about that hot pink coleus... named? Those are two that I'd love to find next year.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 1:24PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Coleus winters over easily in pots, and roots even easier. So if you find a particularly nicely colored one, it can stay around for a while.

My annuals all seem to be liking the rain. I guess I don't usually water them enough (big shock!) The windowboxes are planted with white begonias and white impatiens. They have even grown enough to be seen.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:11PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

NOTHING winters over easily for me, at least not if you are talking indoors. My front door is the threshhold of doom for any plant that crosses it.

I tried to overwinter my seed-started coleus one year, to get a head start in the following spring. Even took cuttings from the ones I brought indoors and started more plants. None of them made it till spring.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 5:10PM
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I don't know the name of the bright pink coleus, but the flowering plant behind it is phygelia (or is it phygelius?).

It's actually marginally hardy here; I had 2 in clay pots that I stuck into the garage - just to save the pots, by keeping them dry; the temperature in the garage swings wildly and it gets as cold in there as it is outside. One of them was leafing out when I dragged the pots back outside last spring.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 6:04PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

New question, dtd - what is the purple flower in the background of the above photo?

Too bad you don't know the name of that coleus. Oh well, probably doesn't matter much anyway. I'm sure I won't find it around here in the spring.

MG, my begonias are one of the plants that seem to have done absolutely nothing. I guess yours are the same!


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Dee, that's Vitex agnus castus, Chaste Tree. It's just barely hardy here on the Cape. It's currently about 16 feet tall, much too big for its location next to the house. but I expect it to be 'winter pruned' by nature sometime soon.

The small, local nurseries here usually have a wider variety of coleus than the big ones. This is probably the only annual that I keep looking at until I find one that I love - with most annuals, the specific cultivar isn't that important to me.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 8:49AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Thanks, dtd. That's quite an eye-catching tree!


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:47AM
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The chaste tree is gorgeous. Alas, here in zone 5 we don't see such things. Glad it is surviving in your location. Probably gets some heat from the house.

I love smaller nurseries. Digger dee described my lack of indoor gardening skills accurately - love "threshold of doom". I do have a Christmas cactus that survives but perhaps if I put it in a new pot of soil it might flourish.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 8:33AM
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What a surprising thread: even down here in non-Yankee
territory, most annuals are NOT doing well at all, Could
it be the lack of intense heat? This has been a summer
of my dreams, this year, with night temps in the 60's
almost every night, and a reasonable amount of rain. . .

LOVE those deep blue lobelias, and faithfully buy a few
six-packs every season - and in all my many garden years, I have yet to successfully achieve that cascade
of blue we all dream about. . .certainally glad to know I'm
not the ONLY pathological killer of plants (and, Dee, I
did NOT mention your name!) :>)

Losing our grand old-fashioned impatiens was tougher
than I expected (what else blooms THAT impressively
and reliably in total shade?). . .but at one of my small local nurseryman's suggestion, I tried "Sunpatiens" these past two years and have been quite impressed with their performance. In my experiments, they actually DO bloom, though not prolifically, in almost total shade -
and in partial shade and full sun (with plenty of water)
they have been stunning. Anyone else tried them?


Here is a link that might be useful: SunPatiens

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 1:29PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Looks like I missed the rest of this thread.

Dee, IâÂÂm always in that same boat, I rarely remember to fertilize annual pots. I canâÂÂt keep up with the rest of the garden, let alone the pots. [g] I used to do a lot more pots but IâÂÂve cut back and this year I only have three pots.

I just pulled out petunias that were on the edges of some of the vegetable beds, they were so pathetic. And the front pots, well, I think I am going to be buying some mums early to pot up because they are looking awful too.

But, the Angelonia as I mentioned decided to look even better and that pot now looks half way decent. I had a Salvia âÂÂPurple Rainâ sitting around the yard and threw that in there and cut it back to the bottom and itâÂÂs finally starting to fill in again. Photo below. I remembered that the one other time I bought Angelonia it did really well too, with no attention at all and lasted all season. So IâÂÂve made a mental note to make sure I get more next year.

I usually buy Pentas for the front garden and I didnâÂÂt get to it this year. Those always do well for me too and bloom all summer.

Molie I forgot to say how much I liked your Begonia pot. I enjoy Begonias but havenâÂÂt had any in awhile. Quite a healthy looking plant with such bright cherry red flowers, cheerful!

Defrost, I love alyssum and always want to have a ton of it. This year, I tried direct sowing 3 packets of it and it just wasnâÂÂt worth it. I think next year I might try sowing them in flats and putting them out that way.

Yes, canâÂÂt wait to get a few Mums!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 6:17PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

DTD, I love Marguerites and Lobelias but they have never done well for me and I just stopped buying them. It must be my lack of fertilizing.

That is some bright rose colored Coleus- very eye catching! Also think that Phygelius [google images lists it that way] is so very different looking! Our garage is not attached and it is usually too cold to winter anything over too. IâÂÂm surprised after last winter that yours did!

OMGosh --- That Vitex is just so pretty! Love it!

Carl, I have also loved this summerâÂÂs weather. I canâÂÂt remember the last time we had a more comfortable one. And rain at just the right times for the most part. Hardly dragging hoses around here for a change.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 6:29PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Actually, Carl, I thought some of the new guinea impatiens I bought were SunPatiens, but now that I look at your link, maybe I am wrong. I know I remember seeing the label, and remember them being more expensive, lol, and I thought I bought some. Either I did and never realized they weren't plain ol new guineas, or I just saw them and never bought them. And of course, this was the first year I threw away all my labels, telling myself they would just pile up in the bottom of my garden bucket and I would never look at them again...

I do remember having some concern with the new guineas - I kept asking at the garden centers, are they more tolerant of sun than impatiens, or do they NEED more sun than impatiens? After all, most of mine are in pretty much full shade, so that little point made a big difference. Never got a clear answer, but most of them are doing well.

I am really enjoying this summer! Normally I hate summer. I'm a gardener who hates the sun, hates the heat, hates the humidity, hates the bugs, and really dislikes most gardening chores, lol. The guy on the radio yesterday said "it's clear, sunny, and 87. It doesn't get any better than this!" And I said out loud in my car "Yes it does! How about clear, sunny, and 74?" But I am always mystified at all these people who love summer - give me spring or fall any day!

But this year? It's still been too hot for me, but it has been relatively nice - cooler than usual, for the most part, lower humidity, and absolutely delightful evenings and nights for sleeping!

Could use a little rain now though....:)


P.S. Edited to add, if only the flying clouds of gnats would go away, it would be almost perfect. I wonder if the trade off for great weather is dealing with the bugs? Not sure I'd take that one every year....

This post was edited by diggerdee on Mon, Aug 11, 14 at 21:58

    Bookmark   August 11, 2014 at 9:57PM
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We don't have gnats here, but we do have mosquitoes; I'm not suggesting anyone waste electricity, and I'm not sure if this would work for you ... when we have dinner on the patio, we bring out an electric fan, and aim it right at the dining table. It really keeps the mosquitoes away.

When I do anything stationary in the garden, I drag a patio umbrella over and work in the shade; this makes weeding so much more pleasant. Now I'm wondering if I should use the fan for that too. I imagine the conversations going on behind my neighbors' windows would be much more animated if they spotted me on my roll-around seat with an umbrella and an electric fan.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 5:46PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

That is a funny visual, DtD! :-) But really, I've thought of trying that fan idea a couple of times and then I've forgotten to. Nice to know it works, I'm going to try it! Are you using just a plain fan, and not one that is meant for outside use, right? Thanks.

This post was edited by prairiemoon2 on Wed, Aug 13, 14 at 5:02

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 9:16PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Actually, DTD, I mentioned in the bugs thread I started that I was thinking of bringing out a big box fan to use while I sat on the ground and worked. I guess great minds think alike. The gnats are absolutely torturous this year and have kept me inside for a good part of the season while my garden gets messier and messier. I have lots of 50ft, heavy-duty extension cords, and while I know the warning labels always say to NOT use extension cords, I might just give this a try!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 8:46AM
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At least you have a good excuse for your gardens being messy, Dee. I keep telling people that I'm going for an 'abandoned garden' ambiance in my yard, and that's why I'm not weeding or dead-heading or trimming anything this year. Actually, I've jsut gotten incredibly lazy this year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:56PM
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