Flowers

The latest, hottest, brightest annual flowers to plant this spring

Just like fashion trends, flowers have hot new varieties each year!

This year’s batch of new annuals include some great choices to plant in your landscape and garden or even in containers.

Some bring bright color, while others boast multiple blooms, great for cutting.

Celosia is a great choice for flower gardens or containers, as they grow into conical-shaped plumes and come in bright red and yellow varieties.

This year’s hot, new celosia variety is called Orange Flame.

And celosia grow to about a foot tall and makes a great choice to add to a container with other flowers and plants.

Celosias bloom early and all season long, plus they tolerate heat and humidity, which make them great ones for Vermont summers.

Another hot annual variety to plant is a petunia, called Bee’s Knees.

If you’ve planted yellow petunias in the past and noticed the color fades over the season, this heat-tolerant one should keep its deep yellow color all summer.

A constant favorite in flower gardens is the sunflower. And if you grow lots of these because you love to use them as cut flowers in arrangements, you’ll love this year’s hot annual.

There’s a new sunflower variety called, Concert Bell and its kind of unusual. It grows about five feet tall with one main stock. And at the top of that stock grows a cluster of sunflowers.

Cut the top of the sunflower stalk, place in your favorite vase with water and you’ve got your instant bouquet of sunflowers on your table!

If you’re looking for some flower varieties that have varying colors and do well in Vermont’s summer heat, verbenas fit the bill.

And if you’ve grown verbena, you remember the bud of the flowers is a different color than the open flowers. This year’s hot, new annual verbena variety is called, “Purple and White.”

This verbena begins as deep red flower buds and opens to a purple and white color.

And this year’s hot, annual cosmos variety, “Apricotta,” only grows a bit taller than three feet, with beautiful flowers that bloom for a couple of months.

Q: Woodchucks eat my young plants, especially cucumbers and pole beans. What can you suggest? – Michael, in Portsmouth, NH

A: Woodchucks can be a big problem, especially in an early garden in the spring.

The best thing to do is put up a fence. It needn’t be large, a four-foot tall wire fence should do.

The key in putting up this kind of fence around your garden comes down to the ground angle.

Bend the bottom foot or so of the wire fencing away from the garden at a 90-degree angle, and then put some mulch or something on top of that apron that you’ve created.

What happens is when a woodchuck comes up to the fence, it tries to dig underneath it and can’t get through. The woodchuck gets frustrated and leaves your garden alone.

Read more from All Things Gardening about how to keep animals from your garden

Also, if it’s a younger ‘chuck, it might try to climb the fence. If this is happening in your gardens, just don’t fasten the top of the fence to fence poles.

Then, when the smaller woodchuck tries to climb it, its weight will bend the wire fencing back and they won’t be able to get in the garden.

Alternately, if you just have a couple raise beds, you can protect those individual raised beds with metal or wire hoops and some micromesh over them. That way woodchucks won’t be able to find the little seedlings in there to eat them.

Q: I’d love to read your advice about being proactive against Japanese beetles before they become a problem this summer. – Sue, in Richmond

A: These beetles feed on a variety of plants and flowers, from roses and sunflowers to grapes and raspberries.

To be proactive, in June, try spraying beneficial nematodes on your lawn and areas where the adult beetles will be feeding.

This treatment is easy to find in local garden stores. Spraying it will parasitize the grubs that are in the soil.

By waiting till June, the grubs will be right at the soil surface. Once you spray, the grubs won’t grow into adult beetles that will eat your flowers and gardens.

You can do this treatment in June and again in early September. And if you do that for a year or so, you will reduce that population of Japanese beetles pretty significantly.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.

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