Top 10 Easy-to-grow an­nu­als

These easy-to-grow an­nu­als are filled with the sweet stuff hum­ming­birds and but­ter­flies can’t re­sist.

Birds & Blooms - - Contents - BY BIRDS & BLOOMS ED­I­TORS

1 Salvia


Also com­monly known as fire­cracker plant, this an­nual va­ri­ety of salvia pops in any sunny gar­den, pro­duc­ing sea­son-long color. De­pend­ing on the cul­ti­var, this an­nual reaches 8 inches to 2 feet, though newer va­ri­eties are on the com­pact side.

Why we love it:

Tons of nec­tar-rich tubu­lar blooms cover the short or long stalks. Flow­ers may be red, or­ange, white, blue, pink or pur­ple.

2 Im­pa­tiens


In­vite winged crea­tures into your shady spa­ces with im­pa­tiens, which come in a rain­bow of hues. Once planted, they don’t need much care. Even dead­head­ing isn’t nec­es­sary! Avoid downy mildew with dis­easere­sis­tant Sun­pa­tiens and New Guinea im­pa­tiens. Why we love it:

Reach­ing 6 inches to 2 feet high, it forms mounds, mak­ing it a good choice for bor­ders and foun­da­tion beds, as well as con­tain­ers.

3 Fuch­sia


These showy, pen­du­lous blooms in red, white, pink and pur­ple will cap­ture your heart. There are more than 100 kinds, from low-grow­ing dwarfs and trail­ing plants to up­right shrubs. Fer­til­ize weekly for best re­sults. Why we love it: Fuch­sia grows best in moist soil and par­tial shade, so it’s ideal for at­tract­ing hum­ming­birds to less-than-sunny yards.

4 Cal­i­bra­choa


Small petunia like flow­ers steal the show all sea­son, mak­ing fast-grow­ing cal­i­bra­choa a hot choice for beds and con­tain­ers—es­pe­cially those that are geared to­ward hum­ming­birds and but­ter­flies. Use it as a nicely tex­tured filler plant or as a bold stand-alone. Plants reach about 8 inches tall and spread out. Why we love it: It’ll trail up to 16 inches be­fore you know it, so use it as a fast-grower to quickly dress up a pot.

5 Cleome

CLEOME HASSLERIANA Plant this trop­i­cal na­tive in your gar­den and you’re sure to at­tract the at­ten­tion of your fa­vorite fliers. This bloom, which some call spi­der flower, is a top nec­tar source for swal­low­tail but­ter­flies and hum­ming­birds.

Why we love it: Cleome’s tall stems topped by wispy pink, pur­ple or white flow­ers are hard to miss. Plants tend to re­seed them­selves from one year to the next—if goldfinches don’t get to them first.

6 Flow­er­ing to­bacco


For a no-fuss way to liven up your gar­den, plant flow­er­ing to­bacco. Rang­ing from 10 inches to 5 feet high, the stems are cov­ered with star­shaped flow­ers in shades of red, ma­roon, laven­der, white, pink, yel­low and even green.

Why we love it: Some types, like N. sylvestris species, have a lovely scent in the evening. Grow it near a pa­tio or en­try so you can en­joy the fra­grance.

7 Nas­tur­tium


Hu­mans aren’t the only ones who en­joy nas­tur­tiums: Moth and but­ter­fly cater­pil­lars like to munch on the leaves, as do some song­birds. The nec­tar at­tracts many types of fliers. Once it’s es­tab­lished, nas­tur­tium con­trib­utes vivid color all sea­son long. It’s easy to care for with reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing. Some types grow in mounds, while oth­ers are good climbers.

Why we love it: The flower makes a zesty, col­or­ful ad­di­tion to a green salad.

8 Mex­i­can sun­flower


This fast-grow­ing an­nual, which blooms in late sum­mer and au­tumn, reaches 6 feet in height. Its long-last­ing or­ange and red flow­ers glow in full sun. Re­sist the urge to dead­head—back­yard song­birds en­joy the seeds.

Why we love it: It’s a pol­li­na­tor mag­net! Bum­ble­bees, honey­bees, swal­low­tails, frit­il­lar­ies, skip­pers and more will stop by for a nec­tar snack.

9 Lan­tana


With pro­fuse tiny flow­ers, there’s plenty of nec­tar for both hum­ming­birds and but­ter­flies. Smaller va­ri­eties with a mound­ing or trail­ing habit work well in con­tain­ers. If you live in a trop­i­cal cli­mate or Zones 8 to 11, try lan­tana as a shrub or a peren­nial.

Why we love it: Song­birds nib­ble on black berries later in the grow­ing sea­son.

10 Zin­nia


Nec­tar-filled zin­nias come in a broad range of col­ors, heights and flower size, and they are a cheer­ful ad­di­tion to any back­yard. In­cred­i­bly sim­ple to start from seed, sun-lov­ing zin­nias bloom quickly. Seek out mildew-re­sis­tant va­ri­eties if mildew dis­ease is a prob­lem in your area.

Why we love it: A hum­ming­bird and but­ter­fly fa­vorite, this ver­sa­tile plant also has seed heads that at­tract sev­eral va­ri­eties of spar­rows, finches and jun­cos.

WINGED WON­DERSFor max­i­mum but­ter­fly and hum­ming­bird traf­fic in your gar­den, choose plants that bloom at var­i­ous times from May through frost. 1









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