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New and Underused Annuals to Grow

As the sun finally breaks through the clouds and the days grow longer, I can practically smell the fresh scent of blooming flowers in the air. It’s that time of year again when gardeners like myself start to get giddy with excitement, dreaming up new and creative ways to spruce up our outdoor spaces.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – the usual suspects like petunias, marigolds, and impatiens are all well and good. But if you really want to turn some heads this summer, it’s time to venture beyond the tried-and-true and experiment with a few underutilized annual gems. Trust me, your neighbors will be doing double-takes as they admire your unique and eye-catching display.

Exotic Allure with Egyptian Papyrus

Every year, I make it my mission to push my customers a little further out of their comfort zones and introduce them to plants they may not have encountered before. And one of my all-time favorites has got to be the Egyptian papyrus (Cyperus papyrus).

Nothing says “exotic oasis” quite like the towering, triangular stems of this aquatic beauty, crowned with a fluffy explosion of filaments that remind me of fireworks on the Fourth of July. I start these babies early in my greenhouse so they’re well-established come planting time in May, and let me tell you, they just keep on growing – often doubling in size by the end of the season.

Now, you might be thinking, “But wait, isn’t papyrus a water plant?” Well, yes and no. While they thrive when submerged in a shallow pond or water feature, they’ll also do perfectly fine in a rich, moist potting soil. I often flank my sunny entryway with a pair of these in bright red containers, pairing them with a riot of spilling, vibrant flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red. The result? A true showstopper that’s sure to have everyone in the neighborhood gawking.

The Bold and the Beautiful: Red Bananas

Speaking of eye-catching, let’s talk about another one of my favorite underused annuals: the red banana (Ensete ventricosum). These bold, dramatic plants demand attention, so be sure to give them the space they deserve in a nice, big pot – a 5-gallon container works perfectly.

I always make sure to snag a couple of these for my back patio, and let me tell you, they put on quite a show. From the moment they emerge in spring, their dark red, translucent leaves captivate, allowing the sun to shine through and highlight the intricate veining. And by the end of the summer, those little 1-gallon plants you started with have quadrupled in size, giving you an absolute showstopper of a focal point.

The best part? You get all that drama and impact for just pennies a day. When you think about it that way, it’s a total steal compared to your morning latte, don’t you think?

Taro and Elephant Ears, Oh My!

Now, if you really want to make a statement in your garden or container display, you can’t go wrong with the bold and beautiful colocasia and alocasia (taro and elephant ears). These tropical showstoppers come in a range of stunning foliage colors, from deep maroon to vibrant green, and their massive leaves can easily reach 2 to 3 feet across.

Like the papyrus and bananas, these plants thrive in moist, rich soil, and they’ll happily grow in water, too. I love to pair them with trailing, spilling flowers for a lush, jungle-inspired look, or let them take center stage as bold, dramatic focal points. And with proper care and feeding, they’ll just keep growing and growing all season long.

Furry and Fabulous Kangaroo Paws

Now, if you really want to have some fun and add a touch of the unexpected to your garden, you’ve got to check out kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos). These unique plants have foliage that resembles irises, but their real showstopping feature is the tall, fuzzy flowers that bloom all summer long, reaching up to 4 feet high.

I first discovered kangaroo paws a few years back, and I have to say, they’ve quickly become one of my favorite underused annuals. There’s just something so playful and whimsical about those furry, paw-like blooms, and I can never resist the urge to reach out and give them a gentle pet. They’re the perfect addition to a sunny, drought-tolerant planting, and I love to pair them with trailing verbena or gazanias for a really eye-catching display.

Perennial Basil for Year-Round Flavor

Now, before I wrap things up, I’ve got to share one more little gem that I think every gardener should know about: perennial basil. That’s right, a basil plant that keeps on giving, even when the cold winds of autumn start to blow.

Unlike the annual basils we’re all familiar with, this perennial variety (Ocimum basilicum ‘Pesto Perpetuo’) won’t set seed and die at the end of the season. Instead, it just keeps on growing, providing you with a steady supply of fresh, aromatic leaves all year round. And the best part? It’s a total breeze to care for – no need to worry about it getting woody or losing its flavor.

Now, I should note that this basil isn’t exactly hardy enough to survive the winter outdoors in colder climates. But with a little TLC, you can easily keep it going strong all season long, even bringing it indoors to a sunny spot during the chilly months. Just imagine how amazing it’ll be to have homegrown pesto on hand, even in the dead of winter!

As you can probably tell, I get pretty excited about these underused annual gems. They’re just so much fun to work with, and they really help to make your garden or container display stand out from the crowd. So this summer, why not take a walk on the wild side and try something new? Trust me, your green thumb (and your neighbors) will thank you.

And if you’re ever looking for more inspiration or guidance, be sure to check out Today’s Gardens – the garden design and landscaping experts who are always here to help you create the outdoor oasis of your dreams. Happy gardening, my friends!

Today’s Garden is Garden and Landscape Company, provides all you need about Garden and Landscape Design to get better garden decorations.

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