Annual Choice Trend

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I have noticed in the past four or five years there are less choices of annuals. First, it was the snapdragons. I can hardly find snaps in the big box stores. The only ones that are offered are the little, short, pixie ones. I have been able to catch a few at a mom and pop nursery, but they closed up shop this year. :( For the last couple of years, I have tried to grow my tall snapdragons from seed which for me, is really a hit and miss project. "Sometimes" my snaps re-seed, but I hate to take the chance and not have any. They are one of my favorite annuals.

The last two years, I have had trouble finding the plain, but fragrant and pretty dark purple petunias. They have lots of the light purples and pinks but not the dark purples. The dark purples are more fragrant.

And forget about finding something like Angelonia, Heiloptrope, Torenia and other less known annuals.

Has anyone else noticed this trend?

Rancho Santa Rita, TX(Zone 8a)

Are you meaning plants or seed ?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I work at a HD and we had tons of Angelonias! Both blue and white. They threw tons of them
down the chute as well--as the did not sell.
We also had Torenias----Kind of late in the season and not too many.

Did not see ant hekiatrope come in. I always buy those at a wholesale grower here.
One of my favorite flowers--along with Pentas.

You are right--the small Snapdragons are one of the first annuals to arrive--
Not sure--but I believe I have seen the tall ones come in sometimes.
They would be in fancy 1gal pots, by "Proven Winners" and cost $7.98.

Even though I work at HD--I seldom buy any plants there.
I find them all "pushed" to bloom--but not hardy enough to re-bloom. Not enough root system to them.
They are also not hardened off--so the heat and drought--and rain will just destroy them.

Impatiens were especially hard hit this year. All the Coleus just loved it! Go figure!


Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Birder - Why don't you check out the "Wintersowing" forum? There are tons of informative threads for how to start plants (annuals, perennials, veggies and more) outdoors in containers during the Winter...Yes, I said Winter.

I collected a bunch of "gallon" milk jugs to use a couple of seasons ago, but never got started. I hope to do it this winter as it's a real money saver and you can plant so many more varieties than you'll find in the stores.

If you haven't spent time in that forum yet, I think you'll find it fascinating, amazing and informative. And, no, your Zone 6 won't be a problem at all.

Here is the link to the basic forum which has the lists of threads. You might want to start with links from one of the "Stickys" to give a better idea what it's all about. This forum has gone on for years.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I mean plants not seeds.

Gitagal: We don't have HD here. Angelonias are sold at the independent nurseries and are premium annuals that are rather expensive for an annual. However, my Angelonias wintered over last winter, but we had a very mild winter. It's too bad they push the plants to bloom, then people buy them, they die, and the gardener blames themselves. Perhaps if one would cut the plants back to give the roots more time to develop, they might do better.

nuts about nature: Yes, I do winter sowing. I have done it for many years now. The problem I have with ws annuals is it gets really hot fast here, and by the time the annuals are big enough to set out, they have a hard time making it because it is so hot. This is especially true of snapdragons as they are a rather cool season plant. So, I try to buy them locally since they were started in a green house and are big enough to plant out earlier when it is cooler. But lately, the availability of tall snapdragons has been pretty limited.

Thanks all, for posting.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I have grown Angelonias from seed several times. Do it earlier than other plants.
They germinate quite quickly--but after that--their growth is fairly slow, especially--
once you plant them out, it seems forever to see the stems grow to blooming.
BUT--they will!
If you do not have seeds--I can send you some. While you are at it----
check my "Trade List"----I have over 50 different seeds--all self-collected.


Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Birder, I understand now why Wintersowing might not be the best idea for you with the early heat. I envy you, though, for managing to do it for many years. I've collected the milk jugs, but that's as far as I've gotten so far. I hope you can find the plants you want. You may have to resort to mail order. There must be some websites with a similar climate as yours, even if they're not quite "local". Good Luck!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Gita, I would love to have some Angelonia seeds. I really like the plants and they bloom all summer. I will send you an envelope with postage. It is very kind of you to offer seeds. I will check out your seed list.

nutsaboutnature: Here's what I do regarding WS: I go to the re-cycle center and get as many jugs as I want to work with. I clean them with a little soapy water and Clorox. Rinse them four times, and they will be clean. Then, use a soldering iron to put holes in the jugs. Then, cut them all the way around except for the handle--that will work as a hinge. I use a knife to start with, then use kitchen scissors to complete the cutting. Dampen your seed starting soil and put it in your jug, put your seed per directions and put a label INSIDE the jug and label it on the out side as well. Putting a label inside assures you of identification later. Use duck tape on three sides of the jug. You don't have to put the tape all the way around. I put my jugs on my deck on the south side of my home.
I know you didn't ask for this information, but I wanted to share it as it works really well for me. Everyone has their own way of WS. You should be able to do all of this in one day or at least two. I do a lot of my perennials this way. They grow from seed, transplant into cells, then, out in the garden in the fall to get established before winter. Planting perennials in the fall is soooo much easier than trying to water them and baby them all through the summer. I still have to water them etc., but they are in one location, and they don't get missed or forgotten.

Today, I am going to plant my Digitalis purpurea 'Apricot Beauty' and Digitalis 'Glittering Prizes'.

1. Winter Sow Jug
2. Cell pots I put the seedlings in
3. Angelonia
4. Transplanted from Jugs
5. Ready to plant outside. These are the Digitalis 'Glittering Prizes' Very robust.

I got a little carried away.

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Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks, birder!! Hey, I appreciate any and all info, especially from gardeners who have experience at something. I have the perfect area for WS, too...up against the back of my house which faces south. Even the flower bed I have in that area has a warmer microclimate than the rest of the yard. Everything in that bed blooms earlier.

I think this year I'll finally get to it as there are several things I want to plant that are a little too costly at the nurseries and websites if I want more than one plant (which I do) and I'd also like to try some tomatoes from seed.

I love all your pics! You look to be very organized.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Let me know what seeds you may want----I love to share--as I have no room for new plants in my garden.
Live in a development----'nuff said!

I tried WS once--and found the milk jugs very cumbersome...hard to open to see....hard to water...
Never again!!!!!

I always try to steer people to other containers---even though I have not really tried them.
But--they seem more manageable.

--The large, deep, clear plastic containers 3lbs. of grapes come in. Or Salad Greens. Or--Butter Lettuce.
Holes on top--and holes on the bottom. What else do you need?
--For larger containers--think of high-topped serving trays for deli and party foods. You can always make holes....
--Cakes come with VERY high domes. You can fill the bottom trays with small pots of seeds.
Melt holes for ventilation in the tops.
--Many people use 2L. soda bottles cut in half. Soil in the bottom--stick the top over the bottom--leave spout open.
Good for individual cuttings....

BTW--The Angelonia seeds I have are for the blue ones only. Let me know--via D-mail is best....


Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Like I said, everyone has their method that works best for them. I have tried many of the above mentioned containers. But I like to hear other's ideas. One can always learn.

The grape containers work pretty well, but for me, they dry out faster, and I have to really watch for plant loss.

I have used 2 liter soda bottles--but I like the large flat area of a milk jug. I take an aluminum disposal lasagna pan and put water in it. Then, I put about two inches of water in the pan, set the jug in the pan and wait for the water to soak up into the jug. I often set the timer so I remember to take the jug back out of the water so they don't drown. That way, the little seedlings don't get soil splashed on them.

I have tried using the soda bottles for cuttings, and I have never had anything to sprout. I know I am doing something wrong--but I sure don't know what it is. I don't have very good luck with cuttings no matter what method I try.

I would love to have the blue Angelonia seed. I will d-mail you. It won't be right away as I have a few jobs I need to get finished. How DO you find time to harvest and clean your seeds? I find it very tedious. I have not been able to see the Angelonia seeds on my plant, and I don't know what they look like.

I "try" to be organized...but not really.

One of the very easiest plants I have found that germinates readily from seed is Digitalis. Every seed will germinate. So, be careful or you will have 50 plants to find a home. For that matter, be careful planting too many seeds of what ever you decide to grow.

We start heirloom tomato seeds every year around the last of February.

Oh, if you want to germinate Penstemon, you need to order your seed in December. Many, if not most, have to be stratified for several weeks (4-8) in the refrigerator.

One more thing, when your seedlings sprout, it gets warmer outside, you have to watch so they don't collapse from the heat. You have to open the tops of the containers a little bit so more air will circulate.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I do not follow anything too scientific.....I just DO and believe that it will work...
As you do as well-with your Winter Sowing. That is completely OK!

Shelling seeds does take time. And--finding WHERE the seeds are is equally challenging...
I tend to do this later in the evening--when all else is done--and I just watch TV. Good time for seeds!

Just now--I was removing seeds from my Cardinal Flower seed pods I picked a week ago.
They are just as small as Foxglove dust...
I always think it is one of nature's miracles that a 5'-6' plant can grow from a seed like dust....

I have 2 Cardinal Flowers that I grew this summer. First time! I had NO idea they would grow this tall!!!
Need to dig them up and plant them in a different bed, where tall plants would be welcome....

Every time I get a new plant--I do not hesitate to post questions about it on DG.
It is an ongoing education to be on DG....


Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Birder - Thanks again for the additional info. I, also have heard various gardeners say they prefer this type or that type of container for WS. Although I haven't actually tried it yet, I like the fact that milk and water jugs are something I already have and all I have to do is wash them out. I have always found those jugs useful for all sorts of things and I think using them for WS makes sense because of the uniform size and shape that will sit easily side-by-side.

That's nice to know about Digitalis because I've been wanting to plant some as another hummer plant (plus I think they're beautiful).

Gita, I also have Lobelia Cardinalis for the first time this year. Actually, it's my 2nd attempt growing it. The first time they thrived till they were about 2-ft tall then one-by-one they wilted and died.

These were successful, but they didn't bloom the first year...didn't even get very tall. I figured they wouldn't even come back this year, but they did and shot up like bean stalks. They're all about 5-ft tall now and the hummers can't get enough of them. I've been leaving the seeds to drop because I've read they're short-lived.

Wow, I didn't realize the seeds were so small! You must have tremendous patience!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Well--yes! It does take patience--but it is mundane watching TV and
removing seeds compliment each other....

"Greenthumb" (on our Mid Atlantic Forum) said that cardinal flowers are tender perennials.
I am in z-7a. You are 5a--and it came back? WOW!!
I am sure the Cardinal Flowere is a biennial--so they would not bloom the same year from seed.

The hardest seeds I have ever removed are---
1--S. African Foxglove--next to impossible...
2--Basil seeds--I dig them out with a toothpick.
3--Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) seeds. They are deep underneath those spikes. Big too!
They will stick you like needles when dry.

Pi. #1 and #5 are of S.African Foxglove

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Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Mundane for you, maybe. I'm just fascinated that you even know where to find some of the seeds.

Greenthumb? Maybe the second first try they died right in the middle of the growing season!

Bluestone lists Cardinal flower as Zone 3-9, but I haven't had enough experience to know for sure. If it really is a biennial, then it makes sense they didn't bloom the first year. I'm hoping that's not true since I'd really love to have more blooming next year. I guess I'll see what happens after the seeds drop. They also said they commonly naturalize along ditches and streams...we'll see.

Great pics of the different seeds and the process. Very informative. I leave my Echinacea seedheads for the Goldfinches since it's one of their favorites and we have lots of Goldfinches, but I deadhead some of the early ones and just leave them underneath the plants.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I work at a Home Depot--and I kept dead-heading the Cone Flowers with "ulterior motives"....
As in---make them more salable--and for me to take the dried heads home to get a bunch of seeds....

IF they are still there--I may cut off some more dead heads today.....we have a table-full all out of bloom.
I bet they were canned already....Gita

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Gita: Sometimes, I think gardeners try so hard to go "by the book" the plants get over whelmed with such pampering. Perhaps that's why I can't seem to get much to grow from cuttings. I try to follow all the directions and invariably it dies.

Oh, Cardinal Flower! I tried it once, and it died just as nutsaboutnature's did. I haven't tried it since. I know I had it in too much shade. Maybe, I should try it again. I do enjoy watching the hummers.

I grew African Foxglove years ago. I got the seed from Select Seeds. It's a really pretty bloom--love the color. It re-seeded some on its own for a few years. I had some in white and some in the lavender color.

I am assuming pictures 2, 3, and 4 are Echinacea? So, you have to pull all of the spikes out and then, dig into the pod to get to the seeds? I actually thought the seeds were the spikes - sort of like zinnia--or do I have that wrong too?

Yes, I agree, a tiny seed produces a 4 to 5 foot plant--it's amazing. Digitalis grows quite tall also.

I harvest my seeds in the evenings while watching tv, but sometimes, I am just too tired to even do the seeds. Right now, I am harvesting snapdragons. I collected a bunch of seed. I have the 'Black Prince' that is a perennial and a lot of the annual, Appleblossom and Plumblossom (mostly Plumblossom). Plumblossom was a really robust snapdragon growing very tall and producing a bounty of seed.

I find it really difficult to separate the chaff from the seeds. Do you have any tips? I use a sieve and white paper. I bump the paper a little bit and the seeds go rolling quickly off onto another sheet of paper--leaving the chaff behind. I find it quite tedious and sometimes I have to quit because I start getting tension pain in my shoulders and neck.

Thanks for the pictures. Pictures always speak volumes.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Wow, what a great way to take advantage of all that deadheading! I never thought about it, but I bet you could get all kinds of seeds that way and yet most people in nurseries or plant departments problably just dump them. Great're a pretty smart cookie!!

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Birder, our posts crossed. My Cardinal flowers are in two different areas since I wanted to see if one did better than the other. They both thrived this year and one of them is in mostly shade. In that bed I generally grow things like Astilbe, Hosta, Aquilegia, Ferns, and the like.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

nutsaboutnature: You "might" want to save a few of the cardinal seeds to make sure you have plants next year.

Digitalis is a biennial also. Because I really enjoy the Digitalis, I WS some every year and plant them in the fall. That way, I am assured I will have blooming Digitalis every year. I have been leaving the seeds on the plants in hopes they will re-seed. I have been doing this for about five years now. I am just now starting to get some plants from them re-seeding. However, every year I grow some from seed so I know I will have some blooming. I guess some of my favorite flowers are Penstemons and Digitalis and for annuals, Snapdragons.

Here's the Digitalis 'Glittering Prizes' that was planted yesterday.

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

nutsaboutnature: Well, I still think mine was in too much shade. I planted it underneath the deck steps thinking it needed a 'lot' of shade. Heck, I don't know. Don't you wish sometimes you could just ask the plant what it needs? Ha! Thanks for the heads up on your experience with Cardinal Flower. I certainly will keep that in mind.

I have Beefsteak Begonia right now that is huge but is looking really sad this past two weeks. I can't figure out what's wrong with it. I have given it water, and I think that made things worse. Now, I am letting it dry out to see if it was too much water. I also need to inspect it more closely to make sure one of the large "stems"? may have broken when it was moved to vacuum.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I got my Cardinal from my neighbor....she is a "pot gardener". She had the cardinal flower
and simply divided the root mass and got about 5 new pots out of it. She gave me two.
I have never had this before--and am learning as i go....not too concerned--it is ONLY a plant!

birder---I know what you are saying about too much pampering. I do no such thing....
Right now my big table outside is full of trays with potted cuttings of different things...
If you have pretty Coleus--take cuttings soon--and stick them right into a pro Mix type of soil.
You can use a deep cell-pak for this.
I root all my coleus for the following year--and keep the cuttings on my light set-up for the winter.
Why not? It is not used for anything else! They LOVE it and all the cuttings root.

I DO NOT believe of rooting things first in water---water roots are not the same as soil roots.
Learned this the hard way. I even root stem cuttings of Brugs right into a pot of soil--all the way down!
They all root! Earlier I tried the water methid--and the "bubbler" method--but the water always got dirty
and then slimy and then the cuttings followed.
I do all my cuttings straight into good, soiless Mix. Why prolong the process?
Just keep them in semi shade and keep them just watered....

Right now--I have about 20 pots of Fig cuttings as my neighbor has 3 different kinds.
I mentioned it on the MAF--as we have a Swap in 2 weeks--and now everyone wants
Fig cuttings. So I am taking cuttings and sticking them in qt.-sized, deep pots.
They all pass the "tug test" in one week. That's it! I do not do anything special.

As far as separating seeds from chaff--I use metal strainers--like for tea or bigger ones.
I have a plastic one that has pretty big holes (for bigger seeds) and a finer mesh one for small seeds.
I am pretty careful not to keep a lot of chaff with my seeds as I pick them out.
Then I just dump all the picked out seeds and chaff into the strainer and gently tap it so the seeds can fall out.
Sometimes--I have to repeat the process....
If you want really clean seeds--put them in a small, deep bowl and go outside. Gently rotate the seeds
and VERY gently blow on them to send the chaff to the winds..
That's about all you can do. Some chaff is OK. No biggie!

NO! on the Echinacea--you do not pull the spikes out! Impossible!
Allow the spent bloom head to dry. Get a big paper plate ans a small, dull knife.
Holding the spiky cone tightly in hour hand--OUCH!!!--use the knife to firmly pull against the spikes. Over and over..
The seeds will just jump out! That's why you need a big plate.
IF the flower head is totally dry--you can just bang it on a plate--and get most of the seeds out that way.


1--Coleus cuttings in Dec. 2010
2-- " " "same
3--Baby Thanksgiving cactus--I keep them on my window sashes in the winter
4--Just potted cuttings under my lights (Dec. 2011)
5--Same cuttings--now--outside by my front door in bright shade. Hoping many of these will bloom.
I get the cuttings from my bigger CC's--OR------I look for broken off pieces at work--and even check
the Lowes racks sometimes. People are so rough--and the pots are so jammed up--
lots of broken off cuttings to be had. Yeah! Sometimes I feel guilty--but.....

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Birder--we cross-posted.....

1--Here are my Cardinal flowers
2--One of my two Red Epis---this one is called "Ackermanii"--I believe
3--4--This is amazing---it is thee other one....NOID. They both blew me away this year....
5--My Dr. Seuss Brugmansia. The most fragrant....

OK! have to get ready to go to work....Gita

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Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Birder, yes definitely, I do plan to "save" the Cardinal seeds. I just hadn't planned to actually "collect" the seeds... rather, I was going to let them drop like Aquilegia seeds. But after learning all this great new info from both you and Gita, maybe I should collect some. It definitely looks like there should be plenty, even from my few plants.

Those Digitalis 'Glittering Prizes" look great already, nice and healthy!

Gita, I really like the idea of dividing the Cardinal flower. I imagine they have to be older than mine are, but maybe not?

Beautiful pics! I love Coleus.

As soon as the weather cools a bit I have a lot of digging to do. Moving plants and bulbs and making some of my clay beds easier to plant in. Some of the ones I've heavily ammended are better, but most still get like concrete after a while.

My two best beds are:
1) a long, narrow raised bed my husband built several years ago where he actually removed most of the clay soil and we replaced it with topsoil, leaves, compost and peat moss. It's wonderful to plant easy to dig.

2) A small island bed we put in a few years ago. We ammended the clay with bags and bags of Cotton Burr Compost, shredded leaves and peat moss. It was in an area that tends to stay wet after a rain, but after 3 years the worms have moved in and it's super. I also periodically add my own compost which is heavily laced with coffee grounds to all my beds.

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Gita, we cross-posted (this is becoming a habit).

Your blooms are gorgeous! I also see some beautiful Hydrangea peeking out of the photo of the Brugs as well. I don't know much about Brugmansia, but from the photos I've seen other members post, they seem to be incredibly popular. Most of the pics I've seen are from gardeners in warmer climates than mine. Are they all fragrant?

Also, I assume those are the Cardinal flowers from your neighbor...very pretty. Since they came from root divisions, did they bloom the first year?

Birder, In response to you question, "Don't you wish sometimes you could just ask the plant what it needs?". Absolutely. In fact, I ask my plants that question all the time...of course they've never bothered to answer me, but it doesn't stop me from asking.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Gita: The Epis are quite beautiful! Coleus look healthy. I have had some success starting Thanksgiving Cactus. After reading your thread, I think my problem might be that I have Not been using soiless mix. I have used potting soil and not necessarily "new" potting soil. I use a soiless mix for my seed starting but did not think I needed a soiless mix for cuttings. Thanks for the info. Brug is pretty. I have two in lg. pots at my front door, but they haven't bloomed yet this year. I haven't fertilized them like I should. I have had success w. rooting brugs as well--just stick them in a pot. I can do that!

I did not know about the Echinacea seed harvesting. Thanks.

I am assuming you used soda bottles, soiless mix and put the tops back on the soda bottles for the fig cuttings?

Last fall, I tried to root lantana. None of them made it. I did however, dig up a few entire plants and they made it fine. Lantana is rather expensive. It is a perennial in zone 7, but I am zone 6.

nutsaboutnature: The Digitalis 'Glittering Prizes' are pretty healthy-but I don't take the credit. They are just a good cultivar.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Yes--it may be a problem when you use soil--old soil yet. Bacteria and new cuttings just do not go together....

As far as the Figs--NO! I just stick them all into a 1qt. deep, square pot. No Rooting hormone...
I do not drink sodas. So--I would not have the 2L soda bottles to use.
Knowing which plants root--no matter what--helps. Figs (Ficus) root easily. Hydrangeas take their time--
but they also root easily. Coleus--in a week!

Here is a picture of my 2 oldest Fig cuttings. Taken--maybe mid-August? So--about a month old?
They are fully rooted. Just transplanted them in a 1 gal. pot to give away. They are mini trees already....

Re Brugs--They will NOT bloom until they have "Y"-ed. The stem top just divides and forms a "Y".
Then you will see buds. See if you can tell.

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Gita: Impressive Fig trees. They look so healthy.

I often get a "pot" from the re-cycle center.

So, do you put plastic sacks over some types of cuttings for humidity?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

birdie--I do not! The pots just sit outside on my work table under the covered patio and do their thing.
This time of year, there is NO lack of humidity.....They all rot easily. I do water them as needed.

Putting bottles or bags over each of 40 some pots would fall in the category of "too much pampering"
as we discussed it somewhere above. Just use a Pro Mix type of "soil"
Also--I do not plan to bring any of these Fig starts inside for the winter. Perennials need to live through winter.
I WILL find a most protected spot (maybe on the E. side of my shed)--dig the pots into the bed,
smack against the shed wall, and cover them all with a pile of leaves.

Most of the cold winds here come from the NW. There are other places where I can snuggle them up against the house's
foundation--completely protected from any direct winds.
I could also put them all in a big crate and wrap burlap around it and top it off with leaves. There are many options.

Birdie--IF i was rooting something finicky--like a rose cutting or some other woody cutting--I may use the plastic covers.
Trying to root some branch tops of my Bob Hope Camellia. I did the air-layering thing in early summer.
Have no idea if there are any roots.....
I try all these things for fun. If it works--I am happy. If it does not---there are always more/other options.


Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

birder17, I have the same complaint about not being able to find older simpler varieties of plants.
I'm usually sticking to native perennials so my use annuals is minimal but I had the hardest time finding the little purple pansies, the johnny jump ups with the little bit of yellow in their "face". I like to buy them in the Fall to stick in all the small corners of the garden since they last until a hard frost and sometimes past that and stay through the spring.
I also like the smell and color of the purple petunias.
If I see another boring yellow chrysanthemum I'll scream.
Why don't they sell asters instead?
They can be treated as annuals if you choose to but they also attract the little skippers and are very attractive in the fall garden.

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Asters are everywhere at this time. HD is loaded with them.
Do not know if they are true perennials. They tell you they are..

A couple of years ago I bought a shabby looking, tall bunch of sticks from a farmers stand.
She said it was a New England Aster. I did not have much hope for it.
Blooms really late. Just starting now...Mine is now like a small, but tall, shrub.

This is from last year...

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Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Gita, lovely aster.
I grow mine with native grasses, Switch and my favorite Little Blue since they are host plants for the skippers who then literally cover the asters along with bees.
In the front I pinch them hard so they are around 2 ' but in the back I let them grow and they top out at about 5'.

I can't say I've been to the local big box stores for plants lately, especially after reading on DG a warning from one of the members that the
butterfly weed? (now I don't remember which milkweed was being offered) was treated with chemicals to prevent monarch cats from eating it.
Duh, isn't that why we buy it to support the Monarch population.

Back to asters, it's strictly mums being sold here, and ornamental cabbage, barely a pansy or aster in sight.
The only aster I could find last year was a cultivar called "Fanny", very pretty but this is the second time I bought an aster that was bred for looks alone.
Not an insect will touch it. Now I wonder if it also was treated with chemicals but it doesn't attract bees even in the second year.

In this photo the asters are growing street side at under 2' with sedums.

My favorite annual is fleabane, an airy small daisy. Might be considered a weed by some but it adds a native charm to the garden and does appear on it's own.
It just needs to be culled and moved to the right places and it blooms all summer. Free is a good thing.

Thumbnail by sempervirens
Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Here's the daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus) with balloon flower and black-eyed susans.
I usually just sprinkle the seeds around after they finish blooming.
The basal leaves look coarse so I have to be careful not to pull them when they first appear.
They look like a weed then. But they are a nice filler flower, think of it as a native baby's breath. They are not overly aggressive and easy to remove or move.

This message was edited Sep 13, 2012 4:28 AM

Thumbnail by sempervirens
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Very pretty--all combined....
Isn't there another Daisy that grows wild in the fields? Looks like a smaller version of a Shasta.

I grow Shastas, and Rudbeckia Goldstrum, which self-seeds easily.
It is the state flower of Maryland.

Right now my Autumn Sedum is starting to bloom. There are every kind of bee all over it....

I am rearranging some of my taller perennials. VERY hard work as the bed I am putting them in is just feet away
from my big, old Silver Maple. The bane of my back yard....
There is a bed on that corner--which I call my "YUK" bed because of all the roots in there.
Digging in this bed is horrendous labor.
But--many hardy perennials do grow there--and I am very respectful of their tenacity.

My neighbors (from Pakistan) just built a 6' fence completely around their yard.
Part of this fence now also fences off my "YUK" bed. After initial anger (re the fence) ,
I decided it looks pretty nice as a backdrop for some of my taller perennials in this bed.
The plants I just moved there were 2 Cardinal Flowers, which will flank, on either side, the tall
New England Aster. Put a Black and Blue Salvia in front of each.

Well--gotta run. Have a dr.'s appt in a bit.

1--The cardinal Flowers in the bed they were growing in.
2--The fence behind my "YUK" bed. A red Epi ready to bloom in front. These are pictures from June.

Thumbnail by Gitagal Thumbnail by Gitagal
Duxbury, MA(Zone 7a)

I keep hearing how easy figs are to root. I inherited my father's fig plant in a pot, but it has no trunk, all the branches start about 2 inches from the ground. So people in Dave's garden told me to root some cuttings. I've had success with coleus and other soft stemmed plants, I'm not having as much luck with the figs. Do you keep them in total shade while rooting?

Algonquin, IL(Zone 5a)

Boy, you guys have been busy! I haven't had a chance to stop by for a few days, but I love all your beautiful pics! I'm going to have to go back and take my time looking at them all.

Meanwhile, I decided to look around for some annuals on clearance or perennials that are still blooming for all my hummers to enjoy. We have more hummers right now than we've had in years and many of my hummer plants either finished blooming earlier than normal or didn't bloom at all. We have feeders all over the yard and they still have plenty of tiny insects, but I really wanted more blooms.

I didn't have much luck until I stopped at Lowe's. They had all sizes of Mandevilla on clearance and some of them were covered in blooms and buds. I don't really know much about Mandevilla, but they looked like flowers the hummers would enjoy (I've since read they do). I chose three plants of Sun Parasol® 'Crimson' Mandevilla (went back the next day for another one) and they have beautiful red blooms.

I set the pots in 3 different flower beds and the hummers were inspecting them within minutes! I plan to repot them into larger pots and after they stop blooming and go dormant, I'm going to move them to my basement and see if they survive. They're pretty good size...2-1/2 quarts and originally sold for $9.00, but I got each one for $2.25 (75% off) so I feel pretty good about it. Even if they don't survive it's not a huge loss.

I'll have to take a picture to post.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Did you see today's article on Asters? Here's the link:


I take about 8-10" cuttings. Strip off the bottom leaves and trim, smaller, the top leaves.
Take a razor knife and cut off the bumps left from pulling off the leaves (not sure if this is good or not??)
and dip the ends into Rooting Hormone and shove the whole cutting stem into a 1qt. deep pot all the way down..
Water and wait,,,,,,Give it the tug test now and then....
They all have been sitting on my roofed over patio work table in very filtered sunlight. More or less of it as the day passes.
Once they root--in about 2 weeks--I am sure you could put them in more sun.

They are borderline hardy here in Z-7a. So you will definitely have to bring them in.
What will you do when it grows into a tree??? They are NOT small plants once mature!


Duxbury, MA(Zone 7a)

my father had been growing this fig tree in a pot for many years before he died. I assume they stay smaller just because they are in a pot? I will try again, maybe it's because I'm not trimming the leaves that I leave on, and also I don't cut the cutting quite as long as you, so I may try a couple longer ones. I also haven't used rooting hormone, but I do have some, so I'll try that, too. Thanks for your tips.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Thanks Gita I read the article and particularly enjoyed the second article it referred to on asters native to NY.

I'm not sure if the other small flowered aster you refer to is the late blooming heath aster, Aster ericoides?
It is a perennial and appears on it's own and spreads quickly.

Thumbnail by sempervirens
Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

nutsaboutnature: That's a good deal on your mandevilla. I have one that I bring in ea. winter. Sometimes I put it in the basement and sometimes, I put it in front of my south facing patio window. I have a lot of Salvia 'Lipstick' and Salvia '?' can't think of the name of it right now but is coral and white flowered. Both are annuals. HB love them, and they bloom ALL summer until a hard frost. They re-seed a lot but are quite easy to remove. I bought a couple of Rozanne and an Astilbe for three dollars ea. from Lowe's.

Cindy: I sure hope your fig cuttings root. It's always a little daunting to me. I have pretty good success starting from seed, but thus far, it's been hit and miss on the cuttings.

Gita: I took some Nepeta cuttings today. I sure hope I can get them to start. The cuttings are about 4 to 6 inches. I took off the bottom third of the leaves. I bought new Fertilome "Ultimate" soil. So, maybe I can get a few to grow! I also took some of the seed.

Gita: Have you rooted Lavender? I am thinking about trying it. However, I think I read somewhere you should take the cuttings in the spring when the shoots are tender-not woody.

Gita: I also noted you "trimmed" off the leaves on the top of the cutting that you left on the stem?? I have never done that either.

Gita: I am trying to move some of my plants around also. It's always a hard job for me. I have Echinacea 'Magnus' in front of Asclepias tuberosa which is shorter than the later. So, need to trade them places. Then, I looked around and thought, "Well, maybe I need to put it in a better location." Then walk around trying to decide "where" to put this wonderful plant. That's the part that is hard for me. I ordered some Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola' to put "amongst" it. I really like the Asclepias tuberosa. The color is just dynamite and the butterflies just love it. So easy to grow. I do absoluty nothing for it. It's a native. The seed pods are quite interesting. I don't have a picture of my Asclepias tuberosa but here's a picture of it and the Triteleia 'Queen Fabiola'.

I have been weeding, re-arranging flower beds, ordered a "bunch" of spring bulbs and had company so haven't been to this thread for awhile.

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