Allan Armitage: A Closer Look at New Annuals for 2018

Colorful gomphrena such as Gomphrena ‘Ping Pong’ (Sakata Ornamentals) make wonderful texture additions to containers.

It seems that every new plant or new series of plants will be better than those from the year before — just ask the breeder. And of course, they were better than those the year before that, and so on. After all these years of claiming greatness, we ought to have some spectacular plants to look forward to. It turns out we do. Here are a few annuals I see as winners this year.

Color will never go away, and landscapers need color all season. Petunias, marigolds, pansies, lantanas, and zinnias will always be used, but here are some other annuals I think may increase sales.

Bidens

I wrote an entire column about the excitement going on in bidens a few months ago; I am still excited. Half a dozen hybrids and cultivars that didn’t even exist a couple of years ago are available for mixed containers and baskets. This is a plant I see as being included in nearly every mixed container and basket in the future.

Agastache

It’s about the fragrance. Agastache has been on the cusp of breaking out for years, and every year I see another series or two appear. There is no excuse for not jumping on these, if for nothing else than the leaf fragrance. But the flower power is so extraordinary now, from the tried-and-true ‘Blue Fortune’ to the deep, rich colors found in, for example, the Kudos, Arizona, and Acapulco series. If fragrance and color are called for, agastache is a terrific recommendation, and may even be perennial in marginally cold winters.

Begonia

Good grief, the breeding in fancy-leaf begonias should not only be embraced; it should be cuddled, squeezed, and stroked. There is no end to the foliage patterns or the diversity of leaf size and shape. Why would anyone not use plants in, for example, the Jurassic, Shadow, Dibs, or Nautilus series?

Gomphrena

I realize gomphrena is kind of boring, but for a no-maintenance, no-brainer solution to high-traffic areas, this is near the top of the list. Good designers and landscape installers are finally recognizing gomphrenas’ outstanding performance in difficult areas. Given the improvement in the range of colors and stature, I can’t imagine it not being used as a solution plant. Numbers will increase in several series, including, for example, ‘Ping Pong,’ ‘Las Vegas,’ and ‘Pinball,’ as well as in my favorite cultivar, ‘Fireworks.’

Herbs and Veggies

For the Millennial, for the patio gardener, and for Farmer John in the suburbs, I have no doubt that the increased use of herbs (lavender, basil, thyme) and veggies will continue. However, they must be incorporated in mixed containers, and we must understand that their value in foodscaping is far higher than their value as food. If we can make succulents sexy, just think what we can do with herbs and veggies.GG

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Allan Armitage: A Closer Look at New Annuals for 2018

  1. Allen – Great article! But… let’s never call gomphrena boring. They are the life of the party! Their happy little polka dot flowers not only bring height and texture, but joy and frivolity to garden beds, borders and mixed containers. They are among the most touched and talked about plants at our annual California Trials. And, as you say, they should be at the top of the list for winning garden performance!

More From Armitage On Plants...
Panicum-Northwind-feature

May 4, 2018

Allan Armitage: Three Ways to Market Grasses as Great Ornamentals

I don’t expect my friends to know the difference between switchgrass and grama grass, yet I always try to do my best to enhance the visibility of these grasses.

Read More
Gomphrena Truffula Pink (Proven Winners)

April 24, 2018

Armitage Talks Favorites From Danziger and Proven Winners

From annuals that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book to breeding marvels in perennials and shrubs, the visits to Danziger and Proven Winners at California Spring Trials were exciting, to be sure. Here are some of Dr. A's favorites.

Read More

April 19, 2018

CAST 2018: Dr. A’s Favorites From Syngenta Flowers, Bailey Nurseries, and More

From an exciting perennial to a new white begonia, Allan Armitage says these showstoppers deserve recognition.

Read More
Latest Stories
Panicum-Northwind-feature

May 4, 2018

Allan Armitage: Three Ways to Market Grasses as Great O…

I don’t expect my friends to know the difference between switchgrass and grama grass, yet I always try to do my best to enhance the visibility of these grasses.

Read More
Gomphrena Truffula Pink (Proven Winners)

April 24, 2018

Armitage Talks Favorites From Danziger and Proven Winne…

From annuals that look like they came out of a Dr. Seuss book to breeding marvels in perennials and shrubs, the visits to Danziger and Proven Winners at California Spring Trials were exciting, to be sure. Here are some of Dr. A's favorites.

Read More

April 19, 2018

CAST 2018: Dr. A’s Favorites From Syngenta Flowers, Bai…

From an exciting perennial to a new white begonia, Allan Armitage says these showstoppers deserve recognition.

Read More

April 18, 2018

Dr. A Weighs in on His CAST Favorites From American Tak…

Here are some of the top variety introductions for 2019 that have pleased Dr. A during California Spring Trials 2018.

Read More

April 17, 2018

Allan Armitage’s Noteworthy 2018 Plant Intros fro…

Here are some of the top variety introductions for 2019 that have pleased Dr. A during California Spring Trials 2018.

Read More
Lavender-Madrid-Lavish-Green-Fuse-Botanicals

April 16, 2018

Allan Armitage’s Spring Trials Favorites From Green Fus…

Here are some of the top variety introductions for 2019 that have pleased Dr. A during California Spring Trials 2018.

Read More
Asclepias-tuberosa-feature

March 29, 2018

Allan Armitage Revisits the Native Plant Movement And I…

With breeders adding dozens of nativars and with public opinion so high, many more perennials, trees, and shrubs are natives/nativars than there were 14 years ago.

Read More
Allan-Armitage-Tennis-Team

March 6, 2018

Allan Armitage: Columnist, Author, Professor … Te…

Dr. Allan Armitage is well-known in the horticulture industry for his passion for plants. That passion also applies to tennis, as evidenced by his tennis team’s run to a national championship.

Read More
Helleborus Frostkiss Penny's Pink

February 24, 2018

Allan Armitage on Hot New Perennials for 2018

Here are some of the perennials Armitage thinks may increase in value in 2018.

Read More
Gomphrena-Ping-Pong-Lavender-Sakata-Ornamentals-feature

January 26, 2018

Allan Armitage: A Closer Look at New Annuals for 2018

Petunias, marigolds, pansies, lantanas, and zinnias will always be needed, but here are some other annuals I think may increase sales.

Read More
Take-2-Veggie-Combo-Burpee-Seed

January 6, 2018

Why Growers Should Not Market Their Plants, But the Sol…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage says landscapers, designers, and gardeners want solutions to problems, not simply a recommendation for one more handsome plant.

Read More
Brandon-Coker-and-John-Ruter-University-of-Georgia

December 3, 2017

Great Plants for 2018 That Stand Up to Heat and Humidit…

In his latest column, Allan Armitage credits trial managers at the University of Georgia, who have come up with an extensive list of plants that continually outperform others throughout the season.

Read More
Allan Armitage San Marzano tomato plant feature

October 26, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why Simplicity Rules for Younger Homeow…

Most starter gardeners are not looking to buy the ingredients to make a combination planter or basket. They want it made for them — no muss, no fuss.

Read More
Allan Armitage Of Naked Ladies and Forget Me Nots

October 2, 2017

Hear Classic Plant Stories From Allan Armitage in an Up…

Greenhouse Grower’s resident Contributing Editor and “Dr. A. Unchained” scribe Allan Armitage will be the guest speaker on gardening author and speaker Kerry Ann Mendez’s national gardening Webinar series.

Read More
Armitage GWA Buffalo Tour 5

September 21, 2017

Tour of Buffalo Gardens Reveals Hidden Gems And Communi…

This past August, Allan Armitage joined the Association for Garden Communicators on a tour of Buffalo. It was a reminder that that we can make a difference in neighborhoods, in cities, and in people’s lives.

Read More
Bidens Popstar (Kientzler)

August 31, 2017

Allan Armitage: Why I’ve Become a Fan of Bidens

The rather boring plant with mundane daisy-yellow flowers has morphed into a vigorous plant carrying colorful flowers that seems to be comfortable in most of the country.

Read More
Van Wilgens Garden Center Customer Appreciation Day

July 26, 2017

Allan Armitage: How Interacting With Your Customers Can…

Plants are our common denominator, but trust and positive interaction with our customers and each other is truly what keeps us in the plant business.

Read More
Allan Armitage Citizenship

June 26, 2017

Allan Armitage Describes His Path to Citizenship

In between offering his take on new varieties and gardening trends, Allan Armitage and his wife Susan recently became proud citizens of the U.S.

Read More