The University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center Horticulture Display Garden in Morris, MN, spans more than 3 acres of public land and featured 480 annual flower trial varieties in the garden, containers, and hanging baskets in 2017. These selections included seed and vegetative plant material from breeder-sponsored trials and the All-America Selections (AAS) display, ornamental seed, and vegetative ornamental trial. A method of evaluating annual flowers this year was having consumers vote for their favorite annual flower. This voting method was experienced by numerous garden visitors and the results are shared below
Steve Poppe, Horticulture Scientist, says spring weather conditions were excellent for planting trial plants in late May. Precipitation for May through August was 18.45 inches, which is above average. Temperatures for May and August were below average and temperatures for June and July were above average. Growing degree days for May through August totaled 1,894. Average is 1,997 for this time period.
2017 Top Ten Performing Annual Flowers
Here are comments from Steve Poppe, Senior Horticulture Scientist, and Esther Jordan, Communications Specialist, on the top performing annuals in the University of Minnesota field trials.
Argyranthemum ‘Pure White Butterfly’ boasts attractive, large daisy-white flowers with a bright yellow eye. It can be planted in full sun to part shade. Deadheading is not necessary, and ‘Pure White Butterfly’ grows to a height of 18 to 24 inches. This argyranthemum, which grows evenly and uniformly in the garden, is also a great thriller in a container.
Begonia ‘Megawatt Rose Bronze Leaf’ offers striking, non-stop flowers, which keep plants covered in huge color throughout the summer with no deadheading. It has sturdy flower stems that hold flowers above the lush foliage, and it is the perfect plant for landscapes, hanging baskets, and big containers.
Calibrachoa ‘MiniFamous Neo Orange+Red Eye’ has attractive, eye-catching, single orange flowers with dark-red centers that perform all summer long. This semi-trailing calibrachoa grows evenly and uniformly in a large hanging basket.
Coleus ‘Main Street Michigan Avenue’ is a high impact, vigorous coleus that held its variegated foliage color throughout the growing season. Michigan Avenue was easy to grow, very uniform in growth, and performs equally well in sun or shade. It’s also a perfect complement to other plants in the landscape.
New Guinea Impatiens ‘SunStanding Purple’ has bright-purple flowers over glossy-green and bronze foliage. They thrived in our garden bed and were outstanding in a container. ‘SunStanding Purple’ is naturally compact and uniform and can be grown in the sun or shade.
Petunia ‘Surprise Blue Sky’ is smothered in stunning, royal-blue flowers from early spring to early fall. Its leaves remain green in color throughout the season, and it grows to a height and spread of around 18 inches.
Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Improved’ is an impressive, sturdy salvia that has been improved for better summer garden performance, with flowers holding longer for a brighter blue flower color in the garden. Dark-green leaves add a dramatic touch to the plants. ‘Mystic Spires Improved’ attracts bees and butterflies and is deer resistant.
Vinca ‘Cora Cascade Violet’ is a compact, spreading groundcover with eye-catching violet flowers and unbeatable glossy-green foliage. An ideal sun-loving plant for hanging baskets and landscape, this vinca likes dry soil, so don’t overwater.
Zinnia ‘Magellan Orange’ is an easy-to-grow zinnia that grows about 12 to 18 inches tall with large, abundant, fully double orange blooms all summer long. ‘Magellan Orange’ is a vigorous variety with good disease tolerance and is well-suited to challenging weather conditions. Occasional deadheading of the old flowers will keep new buds coming, and you’ll get even more color.
Zinnia ‘Profusion Coral Pink’ is a compact, bushy plant, 12 inches high and 15 inches wide that is smothered nonstop all season with cheerful, 2-inch daisy-formed blooms. The petals are bright coral-pink with hints of orange and salmon. Plant this zinnia in large plantings for the best effect. For optimum performance, plant zinnias in a well-drained garden soil.
Horticulture Night attendees were invited to cast their vote for their favorite annual flowers. Participants were asked to select their top five favorite flowers from anywhere in the garden (including hanging baskets, containers, and in the ground).
Consumer Favorites (ranked in order)
1. Dianthus ‘Rockin’ Red’
2. Helianthus ‘Suntastic Bicolor Pink’ (also known as a sunflower; a great choice for attracting pollinators)
3. Zinnia Giant Mix
4. Snapdragon Rocket Mix
5. Dahlia ‘Dahlightful Tupelo Honey’
6. Argyranthemum ‘Golden Butterfly’