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2015 University of Minnesota Top 10 performing annuals

This was the summer of the annual on our farm! The lisianthus was spectacular, the Matthiola bloomed tall and straight, and even the zinnias strutted their stuff!

Each year, hundreds of cultivars are trialed at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) Horticulture Display Garden in Morris. The garden is open to the public for self-guided tours throughout the growing season and provides a unique opportunity to compare the performance of bedding plant cultivars under our region’s growing conditions.

Each of the cultivars is evaluated on plant height, width and uniformity, flower size, flower and plant quality characteristics, and disease resistance.

The top 10 for 2015 were consistently the best performing annuals in the trials. If you are interested in including some new varieties in your garden this year, consider these:

Begonia x benariensis, Big Red Green Leaf is a quick-blooming, vigorous begonia. Exceptional fire-engine crimson flowers combined with glossy green foliage make this plant outstanding. It grows well in partial shade and is perfect for mass planting or very large containers.

Begonia, Solenia Apricot: Three-inch peach frilly flowers bring season-long color to your garden. This cross between a wax and tuberous begonia requires deadheading to keep looking nice. Deer resistant.

Calibrachoa, Superbells Garden Rose: This plant features striking, petunia-like flowers that don’t fade in the summer heat. A low-maintenance, compact plant, it doesn’t need deadheading, and is perfect for hanging baskets.

Coleus, Broad Street features burgundy leaves with a lime green edge. Grown in partial shade in a garden bed, Broad Street is extremely compact and uniform.

Dahlia, Hypnotica Lavender: This 26-inch dahlia blooms profusely from planting into early fall. Its vigorous habit, clean foliage, and large flowers are real eye catchers. Requires occasional deadheading for a neat appearance.

Dianthus, Jolt Pink is a 2015 All-America Selections bedding plant award winner. This dianthus has large, showy flower heads on strong stems that perform extremely well all summer long. It is an easy-to-grow and trouble-free annual.

Geranium, Pinto Premium Lavender Rose: This seed geranium is a great garden performer with uniform plant habit and early flowering. Its most appealing feature is the disease-free clean foliage all season long.

Impatiens walleriana, Lollipop Fruit Punch Rose: The rose flowers provide an intense pop of color throughout the entire growing season. Other colors in the Lollipop series include orange, raspberry, violet, cherry red, pomegranate carmine, coconut white and peach salmon.

Petunia, Surfina Sumo Pink offers a vigorous, full mounding habit of hot pink flowers. Buds open continuously from the center and all along the stems, so there are no “flat topped” or empty centered plants during the season. Perfect for large containers and hanging baskets.

Portulaca, Mojave Tangerine: This durable and colorful flowering succulent blooms profusely all summer without deadheading. The flowers close at night and reopen with sunlight. It is a great plant choice for warm climates and poor, drier soils.

Try one of these in your garden next season, and make sure to visit the WCROC in Morris next year to see all the beautiful flowers in action!

Until next time, happy gardening!