New Annuals to Try from Seed

I never really saw myself growing annuals from seed. My mum used to grow enough petunias and pansies for the entire neighborhood so call it aversion therapy! Yet nurseries only grow and sell a tiny fraction of the best annuals available; there are so many more great plants in so many different colors.

I'm fortunate to have been sent seed samples from All America Selections again this year. These have all won awards for their superior performance so it takes a lot of the uncertainty away. I shared my edible selections recently but in this post I'm focusing on the ornamental annual seeds I was sent.

Here's what I'll be growing and reporting back on this year. You can get details for ordering seeds from the linked pages. If you've got any propagation tips, do share!

Tall Doubleshot Orange Bicolor Snapdragon

Doubleshot Orange Bicolor Snapdragon – a 2023 award winner

At 18-20" tall Doubleshot Orange Bicolor snapragons are a medium height and therefore less likely to collapse than some of the taller varieties. In fact reviewers commented that they didn't collapse even in strong winds – yay! The deep orange and white color is striking – they would look stunning in a blue pot perhaps combined with silver foliage. I'd also be tempted to add groups of these into the garden border since snapdragons are deer-resistant.

Easy enough for a child to grow, snapdragons will do fine in full sun or partial sun and this variety doesn't need deadheading. I'm excited to give them a try.

Vertigo Deep Blue wishbone flower

Vertigo Deep Blue wishbone flower (Torenia) – a 2022 winner

Wishbone flower (Torenia) are a staple for my shade designs but can be hard to find at the nurseries. Vertigo Deep Blue is a new variety available in seed form and I'm intrigued because it says it is for full sun. Not only that, this variety won an award for superior heat and fade resistance even in warmer climates. Hmmm – consider me skeptical but I'm willing to test them!

These are short mounders rather than extravagant trailers so great for the edges of short containers.

Holi Scarlet Zinnia

Holi Scarlet zinnia – a 2019 winner

Now if Holi Scarlet was in the orange-coral range I'd be all over it: not so sure about scarlet but since these are deer-resistant I can grow them in my garden borders. These are only short (6-8 inches tall) so will need to be at the front of the border. Perhaps I can intermix them with the red-yellow bicolor zinnias I grew a couple of years ago? I'm curious, are you?

Viking Explorer Rose on Green begonia

Viking Explorer rose on green begonia – a 2022 winner

I'm not usually a fan of wax leaf begonias but the fact that Viking Explorer rose on green is a good spreader and spiller, has a vibrant color and has shown excellent disease resistance has got my attention. It would be a good candidate for a solo hanging basket or container plant in either full or partial sun.

Sun Coral Candy Coleus

Sun Coral Candy Coleus – a 2023 winner

Ooh! I've saved the best 'til last! Love the colors in this Sun Coral Candy coleus but here's even better news:

  • Grew well in full sun or shade
  • Very few flowers even late in the season
  • Just 3 plants will fill out a 14-16" container

The fact that it takes 3 plants to fill a 14-16" diameter container also means it won't engulf other container plants if you want to just add one. This is already a winner in my books! I know exactly where I want to plant this.

I've never grown coleus from seed before so fingers crossed!

What are you growing this year?

I'd love to know – and do share any growing tips too.

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Photos courtesy of All-America Selections

4 Comments

  1. cat on January 24, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Wow! I had no idea that begonia could be grown from seed! Please let me know if you end up with way too many begonias! 🙂 I always grow zinnias for the pollinators – so easy, always come up. Just have to not let tall ones create shade for my veggie garden again! I was introduced to some Bat Conservatoin garden design plans to attract bats – with day-long and night-time blooming plants. I'll have to check to see what can be grown from seeds – thought I'm also hoping to find perennials, too. I just happen to have spaces (a walkway and a swale) to plant with their designs. Wouldn't it be awesome to have them be so simple to grow??? Side note – I did get my seeds for the little pumpkins and squash from your last report. Thanks for all the cool ideas!

    • Karen Chapman on January 24, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      Sounds like you've got an exciting gardening year planned Cat – have fun!

  2. Mary Perez on January 24, 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Have a long, narrow side yard with full sun, which can be seen through 8 windows in my house. Made a rose garden in the space because we have roses in bloom most of the year in Sonoma, CA. In the spring, I plant tall varieties of zinnia seeds in containers among the roses. Use containers to protect from voles, who love the tender new roots. The seeds germinate quickly and bloom well into Fall. The combination has turned out to be lovely to see through the windows. The cut zinnias last 2 weeks or longer in a vase too! A lot of joy from a few packets of seeds.

    • Karen Chapman on January 24, 2023 at 2:38 pm

      Love your idea of zinnias with the roses. Have you considered growing a carpet of Santa Barbara daisy (Erigeron k.) beneath them all? Or maybe a dwarf catmint? Might be a rather nice effect.

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