May is prime time for planting, and gardening enthusiasts want to be assured the plants they select have staying power and look marvelous all season long. Some plants naturally have a winning attitude and perform exceptionally, providing vibrant color from spring to summer to fall. This month, when the danger of frost passes, a new opportunity arises to explore fresh frontiers with colorful foliage to brighten our landscapes and containers.
The soil, space and nutrients you provide your plants will make a world of difference when they first begin to grow. Good quality soil mixes contain a starter fertilizer, a blend of “soil-less” components that make the texture suitable for root growth and mycorrhizae, a fungus that grows in association with the roots of a plant in a symbiotic pathogenic relationship enhancing growth and durability.
There is an endless array of resilient flowering annuals to choose from. The Scaevola New Wonder, also known as an Australian Fan Flower, is a tough heat tolerant beauty that flourishes in containers and hanging baskets. Its blue, fan-shaped flowers are stunning when combined with the bright chartreuse of the sweet potato vine.
Today’s varieties of coleus are dazzling, suitable for sun or shade and come in a kaleidoscope of variegations. As always, the vibrant color comes from the foliage, so it performs well all season long. Pair it with a resilient plant like the diamond frost euphorbia with its abundance of white flowers, and you have star power.
Annual ornamental grasses, such as a purple or red pennisetum, provide a long lasting punch to the center of a container. Alternatively, try a flowering annual like Senorita Rosalita cleome, a stunner that stands 24 to 36 inches tall with entrancing, spider-like flowers.
From superbells calibrachoa to supertunias, today’s petunias are nothing like what your Grandma planted years ago. Abundant, floriferous, self-cleaning and heat-tolerant, they provide unique, durable color in any corner of the yard. Similarly, modern begonias are drastically different from the “wax begonias” of the past; they have gorgeous, glossy foliage, expansive blooms and perform like a champion in the sun or shade.
Don’t forget your containers! Containers are the perfect opportunity to exercise your inventive green thumb and plant a small, vibrant wonderland of your own creation. As always, make sure there is room for growth and proper drainage.
Blend landscape classics like spirea, ownroot roses and buddleia, or perennials like nepeta, heuchera or sedums and succulents into the mix and let them play their roles as “superheroes” in your scenery!
Rick Vuyst is CEO of Flowerland, host of the Flowerland Show on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM as well as Mr. Green Thumb on WZZM TV 13.