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Do you have information on water-wise annuals?

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You remember annuals — we plant them every spring hoping they will survive and bloom until the first frost in the fall. Of course, half of them are taken out by the last frost in the spring, which arrives exactly one week after planting them.

With the low water year we’ve had, this may be the year to try new annuals. Consider using those that are classified as water-wise. They are able to survive and look great with limited water.

The following water-wise annuals thrive in hot, dry locations. Try them in a flower bed that gets full sun or in a spot where other annuals have collapsed from heat in the past. Some may be easier to find than others, depending on your area. Check with your local nursery or favorite gardening catalog.

· Dahlberg daisy. This is a low-growing annual. It has small, yellow flowers that cover the plant until the first freeze in the fall. It struggles in the inserts in the nursery, but within a couple of weeks after planting, it eventually takes off, reaching a width of about 1 1/2 feet in diameter. · Creeping zinnia (Sanvitalia). This is another low-growing plant that fills in large areas quickly with yellow to orange, brown-centered flowers. Unlike other zinnias, it is not prone to powdery mildew. · Globe amaranth (Gomphrena). This plant reaches a height of 1 - 2 feet. The flowers are shaped like a large clover flower and can be found in red, pink, white, purple and yellow. This flower dries well and the color lasts for months.

· Annual statice. This flower reaches a height of about 2 feet, comes in a wide variety of colors and also is great for drying. The foliage resembles a fuzzy dandelion leaf and remains close to the soil. The flower bolts to about 18 inches, creating a spectacular show.

· Madagascar periwinkle (annual vinca). This works well in any annual bed. The vivid pink, rose, purple, white and salmon colored flowers last for long periods of time. The plant reaches a height of about 1 foot and spreads about half that wide.

· Cockscomb (celosia). Cockscombs have plumed flowers that can look like something from a distant planet. Although the flowers are a little different, they are very colorful and large, sometimes reaching 18 inches in diameter. They are very showy in a landscape.

· Gazania. This annual once came only in yellow and closed up if the sun passed behind a cloud. The newer varieties range in color from orange to pink, burgundy and other combinations. They are also better bloomers than in the past and stay open even on a cloudy day.

· Melampodium. This is another low-growing plant with yellow, daisy-like flowers. The foliage has a much bolder texture than the Dahlberg daisy and the flowers are larger.

· Salvia. This can give your landscape splashes of red, pink and even blue color. The plants range from 10 inches to 2 feet tall. They are very hardy and can be used as an accent or for a backdrop.

· Strawflower. This excellent drying flower blooms in colors of gold to red and burgundy. Strawflowers reach a height of more than 2 feet and hold their color for months.

Posted on 14 May 2004

Jerry Goodspeed
County Director, Horticulture Agent, Weber County

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