The Newest, Hottest, Brightest Annuals to Plant This Spring

Just like fashion trends, flowers have new varieties in vogue every year!

This year’s batch of new annuals includes some great choices to plant in your landscape and garden or even in containers.

Some bring bold colors, while others feature multiple blooms, ideal for cutting.

Celosia is an excellent choice for flower gardens or containers, as they grow into cone-shaped plumes and come in bright red and yellow varieties.

This year’s new hot celosia variety is called Orange Flame.

And celosia grows about a foot tall and is a great choice to add to a container with other flowers and plants.

Celosias bloom early and throughout the season, and they tolerate heat and humidity, making them ideal for Vermont summers.

Another hot annual variety to plant is a petunia, called Bee’s Knees.

If you’ve planted yellow petunias in the past and noticed that the color fades over the season, this heat-tolerant petunia should maintain its deep yellow color all summer long.

A constant favorite in flower gardens is the sunflower. And if you grow a lot of them because you like to use them as cut flowers in arrangements, you’ll love this year’s hot annual.

There is a new variety of sunflower called Concert Bell and its unusual kind. It grows about five feet tall with a main stock. And on top of this stock grows a cluster of sunflowers.

Cut off the top of the sunflower stem, place it in your favorite vase with water and you have your instant bouquet of sunflowers on your table!

If you’re looking for flower varieties that come in a variety of colors and hold up well in Vermont’s summer heat, verbenas fit the bill.

And if you grew verbena, remember that the flower bud is a different color than the open flowers. The new annual variety of warm verbena this year is called “Violet and White”.

This verbena begins with dark red flower buds and opens to a purple and white color.

And this year’s hot annual cosmos variety, ‘Apricotta’, stands just over three feet tall, with beautiful flowers that bloom for a few months.

Q: Groundhogs eat my seedlings, especially cucumbers and green beans. What can you suggest? – Michael, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A: Groundhogs can be a big problem, especially in an early spring garden.

The best thing to do is put up a fence. It doesn’t have to be tall, a four foot high wire fence should suffice.

The key to placing this type of fence around your garden comes down to the angle of the ground.

Fold the bottom leg or more of the mesh a way of the garden at a 90 degree angle, then put some mulch or something on top of the apron you created.

What happens is when a groundhog approaches the fence, it tries to dig under it and can’t get through. The groundhog is frustrated and leaves your garden alone.

Read more from All Things Gardening on how to keep animals out of your garden.

Also, if it’s a younger chuck, he might try to climb the fence. If this happens in your gardens, do not secure the top of the fence to the fence posts.

Then, when the smallest marmot tries to climb it, its weight will bend the fence backwards and it won’t be able to enter the garden.

Alternatively, if you only have a few raised beds, you can protect these individual raised beds with metal or wire hoops and micro-mesh over them. This way, groundhogs won’t be able to find the little plants in there to eat.

Q: I would like to read your tips for being proactive against Japanese beetles before they become a problem this summer. – Sue, in Richmond

A: These beetles feed on a variety of plants and flowers, from roses and sunflowers to grapes and raspberries.

To be proactive, in June try spraying beneficial nematodes on your lawn and areas where adult beetles will feed.

This treatment is easy to find at local garden centers. Spraying it will parasitize the larvae in the soil.

Until June, the larvae will be on the surface of the soil. Once you spray, the larvae will not grow into adult beetles that will eat your flowers and gardens.

You can do this treatment in June and again in early September. And if you do that for about a year, you dramatically reduce that Japanese beetle population.

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