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7 Top-Rated Colorado Annuals for Your Summer Gardens

Interested in some top-rated annuals that are great for Colorado?

Check out a handful of favorites suggested by the annuals pros at Tagawa Gardens!

We all know about the work horses of the annuals world, like geraniums and petunias.  They’re beautiful and reliable and deserve our loyalty.  But what about the folks who work with annuals all summer long?  What are some of their personal favorites that they’ll be planting in their own gardens this season?

Good question!  I wanted to know, too.  So I sought out seven of the folks at Tagawa Gardens who work up close and personal with these plants.  I was surprised at a few of their answers.

Read on!

Johnny Flame, Tagawa Gardens, Denver

A bold petunia with a sassy name:  “Johnny Flame”

When I asked for their favorite annual, some of the Tagawa staff took a moment to think.  Patty didn’t.  Without taking a breath, she said “Johnny Flame petunia!”

I agree.  It is a beauty!  As Patty says, this petunia is eye-catching to say the least.  It’s from a specialty line of breeding called “Sweetunia.”   The breeding emphasizes tough plants that are full of flowers.

It’s the bold, scene-stealing color of these flowers that will grab your attention.  The blossoms are deep burgundy with purplish-hot pink edges.  Wow!

“Johnny Flame” needs full sun and some regular maintenance to keep it tidy.  But just ask Patty.  It is so worth the effort!

Surfina Brilliant Pink, Tagawa Gardens, Denver

Another petunia in the winner’s circle:  “Brilliant Pink”

Alicia has been with Tagawa Gardens since her own children were small.  Now, they have children of their own.

Alicia and her granddaughter love pink.  And this year, Alicia says she can’t wait to try “Brilliant Pink” petunias from the Surfinia collection of plants.

Talk about blossoms, and lots of em!  This sun-loving plant was born to trail and will spill over pots and window boxes with more intensely pink flowers than you can count.  “Brilliant Pink” is self-cleaning, meaning the fading flowers fall off on their own.  No dead-heading required.

Alicia says she plans to mix “Brilliant Pink” with another of her favorites:  the paler pink and profusely-flowering “Bubblegum” petunia.  She can’t wait to see how they look together.  Neither can I.   Pictures please, dear Alicia….

A “different” kind of begonia

Million Kisses Begonia, Tagawa Gardens, DenverMary Lou is one of the ladies who designs and plants the beautiful combinations of mixed annuals at Tagawa Gardens.  And what will she be growing at home this year? “Million Kisses Amour” begonia.

She grew them last year and says the reddish-orange flowers poured over their pots and then just kept going.  “Million Kisses Amour” has beautiful dark two-tone foliage that sets off the bold flowers.

And what helps make this a “different” kind of begonia?  Mary Lou says it can take some exposure to hot afternoon sun.  Not all day sun…. but some of that intense sun that loves to sneak in later in the day.  Take that, Colorado!

Mary Lou suggests that “Million Kisses Amour” should go into a large pot or basket.  Don’t cramp this plant’s style, and you won’t be disappointed!

Whopper Begonia, Tagawa Gardens, DenverAnd how about a begonia by the name of “Whopper!”

Pam is another member of the annuals design team at Tagawa Gardens.  At the top of her annuals “must have” list is “Whopper Red” begonia.”  The name is a clue.

“Whopper Red” begonia is big.  Big reddish-pink flowers. Big beautiful glossy foliage, either dark green or bronze-leafed.  Big over-all attitude.  They grow tall and wide and will dazzle in window boxes, pots or beds.  Light sun or shade is best.

If begonias have seemed too docile for you in the past, it’s time to reconsider.  The “Whoppers” will pay you back with flowers from spring to fall.

Pineapple Sage, Tagawa Gardens, Denver

Pineapple Sage:  think of it as two plants in one

Love having fragrant foliage at your fingertips?  You need some pineapple sage.  Love having hummingbirds, too?  You need pineapple sage even more.

Trish is a big, BIG fan of pineapple sage.  As a member of the Tagawa Gardens annuals staff, she sees all of our annuals every day.  But for her, pineapple sage is a keeper, and should be in every garden.

Start with the fragrant foliage.  Give the tender, green leaves of this plant a gentle rub… and then smell your fingers.  YUM!  The smell is unmistakable, even though pineapple sage actually is in no way related to pineapples.

Next, consider the flowers.  As the plants mature, they produce beautiful, tubular scarlet red flowers at the top of their tall, leafy stems.  The hummingbirds can’t resist!

Trish recommends you plant pineapple sage in large window boxes or pots.  It needs room to grow.  And make sure they’re in full sun, to catch the eye of a passing hummer.

Princess Caroline, Tagawa Gardens, DenverNeed a “thriller” that doesn’t take over?

Karen says “Princess Caroline” fountain grass may be the answer.  At first, it looks like the Purple Fountain grass that so many of us love, but it’s a notch smaller.  And its emphasis is on lots and lots of long graceful leaves that form a beautiful mound as it grows. The foliage is purplish-green in the summertime, turning a very dark burgundy as the days get shorter.

In our Zone 5 climate, “Princess Caroline” generally doesn’t produce the soft seed heads of other fountain grasses.  But Karen says this heat-tolerant plant “shouts for attention,” and she’d love to see more gardeners give it a try.

Mezoo, Tagawa Gardens, Denver

Can you say “mezoo?”

To me, this sounds like an Italian dessert.  But “mezoo” is a name that came up over and over again in my little survey of our annuals staff.   And it is Lynn’s nominee.

It’s full name is “Mezoo Trailing Red.”  Lynn says it can be an excellent alternative to potato vine as a “spiller” that just keeps on spilling.  She says it looks amazing as part of a combination of flowers in large pots.

“Mezoo” is a succulent.  It has chubby, glossy green and white leaves.  As it matures, it offers up dime-sized, daisy-like reddish flowers that resemble tiny gems on a long necklace.  “Mezoo” is no shy, retiring kind of plant.  If you give it room to grow, it will surprise you and make a statement all its own!

It likes full sun and can take the heat.  “Mezoo” is definitely on my list of new plants to try this coming season.  So many choices in Tagawa Gardens Annual Department!  What fun!  Hope to see you there.