November 2010 Showcase Plant

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Winter Annuals

November is the earliest you can count on winter annuals to beat the heat and survive through late winter into the early spring months.  Plant entire beds, spots of color, or a few containers.  There is an endless amount of variety and color that will fit into almost any landscape situation.  They add that needed touch of color to an often drab landscape.  Annuals planted in containers can add a splash of color to a porch, deck, or patio area.  Most cool-season annuals are frost-resistant unless they are making a lot of tender growth.  If you’re not sure about the hardiness of any annual flowers, it’s best to provide some protection when a frost occurs.  Cooler temperatures mean that annuals will not use as much water, but you have to remember that this is also the beginning of the drier time of year.  So always make sure you are checking regularly for water needs.  Plants’ growth begins to slow this time of year during the cooler weather so the plants will not be using nutrients as fast as the spring time.  Garden insects become less of a problem in the cooler months.  They don’t go away, but they don’t develop as quickly. 
Now let’s get into the selection!

PANSIES and VIOLAS –

The most frost and freeze resistant of all common winter annuals!  As compact, low growers, pansies are ideal for edging and for squeezing between rock walls and paths, as long as they can be removed in summer.  You can plant pansies and violas 6 to 8 inches apart without it being too close.  They flower best in full sun.

   

SNAPDRAGONS –

Snapdragons prefer full sun, regular water and rich, well-drained soil.  This softly scented flower comes in various sizes as well, ranging from dwarf varieties to varieties that can reach a height of three feet.  They will do best in a sunny location..  Dead flower stalks should be removed to promote new growth.  Snapdragons are a spectacular addition to any flower bed or garden. They are easy to grow, are very versatile, and you will appreciate the touch of color and beauty they add to your desired area.
   

ALYSSUM –

Alyssums are small plants, growing six to nine inches tall.  They are small and easy to grow.  They have a profusion of flowers, with white being the most popular. They also are available in pink, violet, purple and lavender. Space plants eight to ten inches apart.  Alyssum like full to partial sun. They will do well in average soils and tolerate dry soil conditions. Water them during dry periods, once or twice per week. Soil should drain well. Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month. 

   

PETUNIAS –

Because of their profuse blooms and mounding or trailing growing habits, petunias are excellent in hanging baskets, either alone or as a trailing plant in a mixed planting. They are low growing and need to be planted in large groupings, to make a splash in the garden. But containers of petunias can be placed in strategic areas of the garden, to add color where needed.  Petunias do best in full sun, but can handle partial shade. They grow 10-15” tall.  Although petunias like cool weather, they are not frost tolerant. 

   

LOBELIA –

Try these compact plants as border edging, in containers, or in windowsill planters. They look great in hanging baskets, too.  Most Lobelia plant varieties are compact, only growing 3 to 5 inches tall.  Lobelia plants like full sun to partial shade. Plants prefer cool weather. Lobelias like rich, wet soil. 

   

DIANTHUS –

Dianthus grows 8-12 inches high and is suitable for massed planting, edging and flowerboxes or pots.  They require full sun and well-drained soil.  Spent flowers should be removed promptly to promote continued blooming.
   

FLOWERING KALE –
Ornamental kale is essentially the same as the kale grown in the vegetable garden, except the ornamental types have been bred to have showy white or reddish-purple leaves. Kale, which a member of the cabbage family, is fundamentally a cabbage that does not produce a head. Instead, it produces leaves in a tight rosette.  The plants can get about 18 inches tall.  In the garden, ornamental kale is used as a front-of-the-border plant, or sometimes for massing in public displays. It should have fertile soil that’s well drained. It should be situated where it gets at least six hours of sunlight. Ornamental kale can also be grown in pots as a patio plant.

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