When most people think of annuals they think about upright varieties for borders and containers. But when planning your annual garden, think about more than just upright plants. There are a number of wonderful trailing varieties that are perfect for providing a splash of color between shrubs, on a hillside or cascading over a rock wall or trailing from a hanging basket.
For a hillside, it’s hard to beat trailing lantana, with its showy purple and white blooms. A happy plant can reach 3-4 ft across in diameter. If you are looking for a slightly flatter foliage that hugs the ground, consider the mauve-flowering scaevola.
It’s easy to perk up your landscape by planting patches of million bells (calibrachoa) in spaces between larger shrubs. This colorful annual comes in a variety of bright hot colors including red, yellow, apricot, white, pink, fuchsia, blue, and violet. Another alternative would be verbena, which is available in many colors, flower sizes and flat or mounding foliage. These plants also look great flowing over rock walls or pool edges.
For large splashes of color in the landscape, use petunias or ivy geranium. Both grow incredibly fast and come in every color under the sun. You can dress up the edges of a boring-looking vegetable garden with nasturtium, whose orange, red and yellow flowers are also edible.
All of the above mentioned plants perform well in hanging baskets but there are a few plants that make great partners with them and are particularly suited for container planting. To add some texture and unique foliage color to your hanging baskets consider using silver dichondra, licorice plant (helichrysum) or parrot’s beak (Lotus maculatus). All have silvery grey foliage that provides a great contrast to other plants.
While most plants in hanging baskets perform better with a little shade from the afternoon sun, one annual is particularly suited for slightly shadier confines. Use trailing lobelia, which comes in many shades of blue, rose and white. Its cheerful little blossoms are perfect for any container.