A GROWING CONCERN: A summer gardener’s lucky 13

I HOPE EVERYONE had a great Mother’s Day and what a gorgeous day it was!

With the sun now shining bright and warm, it is safe to plant those many summer-loving bedding plants.

Now the weather, and especially the soil, is warming up, you can finally plant your entire array of bedding plants without much worry — but I’d wait a week if you’re at about 1,000 feet.

Here is your list of 13 great bedding plants to use for awesome summer color. Go buy them today.

1. Impatiens.

This is the perfect shade flower. Impatiens come in numerous colors and get few bugs or diseases. No other summer plant gets more flowers. They also conform perfectly into the shape they are planted.

2. Celosia (coxcomb).

Here is a great plant for sun or partial shade. Celosia has wonderful plume-type blooms that are very feathery. It can be dried for great interior arrangements, and many have colored leaves. It is an exotic-looking plant.

3. Fibrous begonias.

This begonia variety is ideal when used in spots with filtered to half-days sunlight. Fibrous begonias are prolific and the flowers are practically fluorescent. The bronze leaf varieties give your planting a very classy look.

4. Marigolds.

This common bedding plant is so underused. Try getting some cut flower varieties that grow 3 to 4 feet tall. Border these in full sun with African marigold with their huge, fully double flower. Next, swirl in a number of different colors and bicolors for an extremely bright, eye-catching bed.

5. Salvia.

This plant can be used as a cut flower for drying. Salvia comes in varieties as short as 6 to 8 inches high and all the way up to 5 feet tall. Blue Victoria is an adorable biannual variety lasting well into November. Many salvia are perennial and attract hummingbirds and butterflies. They grow best in full sun to light shade.

6. Cleome.

This is a spectacular, tall, interesting plant. Cleome blooms continuously until the first frost and grows to be 6 feet or taller.

Known as “spider flower” it has a large open bloom that provides real pizzazz in a flowering garden.

7. Sunflower.

Today’s sunflowers are not your parents’ sunflowers. Plant breeders have busted this category wide open and the plants are now available to use as hedges, greens, borders, backdrops or in mass plantings. Perfect as a cut flower, sunflowers also provide great food for the birds. Their blooms can be 10 to 12 inches across or as small as 2 inches wide. And you should see the new color combo and petal designs.

8. Zinnias.

I really like this plant’s versatility. It can be used in beds, arrangements, pots, borders, containers or hedges as a color spot. The more you cut zinnias, the bushier and more prolific they become. They need full sun and rich soil but are easy to grow and come in every color imaginable. Try the interesting cacti-flowering types, especially the “state fair” variety or the very intriguing “ruffles.”

9. Verbena.

This summer annual lasts well past the first frost and adds a nice leaf texture to a flower garden. Verbena has 2-inch clusters of flowers and is great as a creeping border or edge, especially on rock walls, containers or baskets. It thrives in full sun and tolerates dry conditions well.

10. Tithonia (Mexican sunflower).

Now here is the plant for those who like a challenge to grow plants. Tithonia laughs off heat, humidity, poor soils, drought, deer and even your kids. If they get broken, they just bounce back larger and fuller than before. They need full sun to perform well and can be used as cut flowers.

11. Portulaca (Moss rose).

Another superior plant for hot, dry conditions, moss rose is unsurpassed in flower color and brightness. With interesting needle-like leaves, portaluca has delightful rose blooms which are fully double. Try these plants for a very low, prolific border that will get noticed.

12. Ageratum.

A very nice plant which is seldom used, ageratum has unusual, round, button-like flowers that form nice clusters. Noted for its great blue hues, ageratum is also available in white and pastels. With a slight pubescents (soft down texture) on the leaf, ageratum gives a different look to the bed.

13. Asters.

Finish your plantings with a collection of various asters. They are wilt-resistant, perfect in a bed or pot, make for extremely long lasting cut flowers and have a remarkable look. These flowers like full sun to partial shade. Deadheading them really keeps the flowers on until November.

Have fun planting and please … stay well all!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).

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