Are you looking to change up your approach to annuals this season? Rodger Tschanz, Trial Garden Manager at the University of Guelph’s Guelph Turfgrass Institute, recently walked us through an extensive list of annuals that he’s been working with lately. He shared some of his favourite under-used varieties, as well as some stand-outs and updates to tried-and-true favourites. Didn’t get the chance to sit in on the session? Don’t worry – we took notes! Here are a few of the varieties that stood out to us:

For the shade lovers:

  1. Impatiens are back! Downey Mildew is no match for these resistant Imara® XDR and Beacon Series
    varieties. Want to take it to the next level? The Glimmer Double Impatiens from Ball FloraPlant are also resistant.
  2. Begonias are great for adding texture, and come in a wide array of colours and sizes. Looking for something different? Consider Canary Wings by BallSeed to brighten up darker areas of shade.

For sun and shade mixes:

  1. The Hula™ Bicolor Red White Spreading Begonia from PanAmerican Seed is nice if you’re looking for something with a smaller flower, and works really well in sun and shade.
  2. Hypoestes aren’t commonly used in landscapes, but actually do quite well in full sun, here in Ontario. Check out this Hippo White variety from Proven Winners for something different.
  3. Recently Coleus are becoming available for sunny applications, in addition to shade, giving us even more flexibility in the garden. Check out the Ruby Heart Coleus, Premium Sun from BallSeed.

Full Sun:

  1. This Calibrachoa hybrid, Superbells® Prism™ Pink Lemonade from Proven Winners features blooms that start out yellow, and change colour to a vibrant pink over time.
  2. Rodger also recommends considering Calendulas – not only can they handle full sun, but the flower and seed pod are edible and they hold up really well to powdery mildew. They’re also fantastic for pollinators.
  3. An unexpected idea: Have you considered growing ornamental peppers? They’re often low-maintenance and can add a lot of interest to a garden. There are so many colours shapes and sizes to choose from! The dark foliage on this Onyx Red variety from American Takii is stunning. Note: while these plants are the same species as edible peppers, they aren’t designed to be consumed.
  4. What about this Celosia Sol Gekko Green from PanAmerican? We typically grow Celosia for the flower, but in this case, it’s the foliage that catches the eye. What a great way to add dimension to a space.
  5. This Gomphrena Truffula Pink from Proven Winters is very long lasting, and works really well as a filler, an accent or in containers.
  6. Sunflower lovers, consider looking at the Helianthus Suncredible from Proven Winners. Not only is it compact, but it continues to produce flowers throughout the season!
  7. For an update on a classic, consider the Petunia Bees Knees. Its flower is a rich, buttery yellow and looks great throughout the season.

Looking for more inspiration? Follow Rodger and the Guelph Trial Garden on instagram: @guelphtrialgarden. Want to check out the Trial Gardens yourself? Save the date for their open houses: August 19th for the Milton location, and September 9th for the Guelph location.