Stunning Patriotic Annuals

What’s but more patriotic than Dahlia ‘Lady Liberty’? (Photo by Gardens on Spring Creek)

by Andrew Scott, Horticulturist, Gardens on Spring Creek

With Independence Day less than two weeks away, it may be time for you to start planning your decorations for get-togethers and barbecues. This means flags, buntings, and if you have a green thumb, annuals. Classics like petunias, pansies, geraniums and cornflowers come in every patriotic color, are in every garden center, and are classics for a reason, but you can liven up any annual display by stepping off the beaten path and including a few of these varieties in your planning.  

It’s not hard to find red blooms. Godetias like Clarkia amoena ‘Scarlet’ unsurprisingly have strikingly bright six-inch clusters of scarlet flowers and are drought tolerant. Million bell (Calibrachoa x hybrida) Superbell® varieties like ‘Cherry Red’ and ‘Double Ruby’ form dense blankets of blooms, perfect as fillers or spillers. If you’re looking for a bit of height, Strawberry Fields globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa ‘Strawberry Fields’) is an adorably leggy annual that grows up to two feet tall to give more texture to your displays, terminating with a cluster of brilliant red bracts, giving pops of red to any bed. For something fuller, snapdragons like Antirrhinum majus ‘Aroma Red Spice’ display spikes of fragrant, deep red flowers from every angle. Some annuals like Begonia T-REX™ ‘Ruby Slipper’ and ‘Stardust’ or Coleus Wizard® ‘Velvet Red’ also have eye-catching crimson foliage that do well in filling bare spaces. 

There’s no shortage of white blooms at the nursery, but what’s more patriotic than Dahlia ‘Lady Liberty’? This cultivar grows four to five feet tall with multiple stark white blooms that are absolutely stacked with overlapping petals. For ground-hugging plants, both Snow Princess® alyssum and Suberbena® Whiteout™ hybrid verbena are mounding plants with an absurd amount of clustering blooms. As with the red palette, don’t discount arrangements with pale foliage; although not white-white like flowers, plants like dusty miller and Senecio candicans ‘Angel Wings’ get their pale appearance from dense pubescence on their leaves, offering soft contrast to vibrant blooms. 

Truly blue annuals can be tougher to find, but salvias are a great place to start. Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and Salvia Rockin’® Playin’ the Blues® (a Salvia longispicata x farinacea hybrid) put up tall spikes of alluringly deep blue flowers that peek out from shiny foliage. Evolvulus Blue My Mind® is great for groundcover or basket gardens, and for a truly unique bloom, check out Nigella damascena ‘Miss Jekyll Dark Blue’ with its cobalt pinwheels and delicate dill-like foliage.  

Some varieties have even been bred to show off two colors in the same bloom! You might opt for Nemesia ‘Red and White’ which has striking red upper and white lower petals. Nemesias also comes in ‘Blue and White,’ which is a much more common color scheme in flowers. Delicate, spilling plants like Nemophila menziesii ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ and Lobelia Laguna™ ‘Compact Blue with Eye’ feature blue petals with white centers and are perfect for containers or hanging baskets, while Ipomea tricolor ‘Flying Saucers’ is a cute, vining morning glory with blue and white striated flowers and heart-shaped leaves that does best as a backdrop on a trellis. 

We have nothing against petunias, but we hope you’re inspired to incorporate some of these more unique varieties into your displays!   


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