Guess what?!? We’re moving back to Madison, Wisconsin this summer. We won’t be back in time to start our own garden, as we’ll be back at the end June. Zoe and I are taking Amtrak. I love the heck out of tons of drought tolerant plants, but I’m looking forward to living in a place where it actually rains in the summer bugs and all. Zoe’s wanted to move back for a couple years.
Anyways, I’m a hardcore fan of Klein’s on East Wash in Madison and have been ogling their amazing 2021 pdf plant lists. Not only are they extensive and drool worthy, they also offer lots of great info about growing pretty much everything they sell. I also found a wonderful Wisconsin gardening resource (here’s the flowering growing part) From the Ground Up on the Eagle Heights Community Garden website. So much good info about all kinds of flowery things including if it’s easier to start from seed or not, or both. I don’t really even know what reseeds in zone 5, but some of these must. Feel free to let me know in the comments. Dane County has so many great gardening resources, including The Gardens Network with tons of info about community gardens.
Since I can’t plant anything this year I’m asking folks in Madison, to go get their cutting garden at Klein’s for me to ogle in your backyard over beers. I’m mostly highlighting the least expensive guys that come in multi-packs here, so I’m not asking for a big investment. Please note that sometimes crops fail, or things happen. Don’t harass the poor Klein’s folk if they don’t have something. The folks who work in independent garden centers are saints.
It’s always good to splurge on some crazy rex begonias, coleus and a few more fun 5″ers to make things even more fun. I’ve copied info directly from Klein’s pdf’s below, but linked up varieties to other sites with more pictures. Quite a few of the pictures below are of plants we bought from Klein’s back 2012 in our Madison garden. The links are mostly for more/better pictures of different varieties, but I picked my favorites. There are lots of Johnny’s Seeds links. They have so much good stuff. My other favorites to peruse in no particular order (I’m sure I’m missing tons of good ones, so feel free to chime in): Renee’s Garden Seeds, Eden Brothers, Floret Flowers, Select Seeds, Botanical Interests, Swallowtail Seeds.
Anyways, make sure it’s not going to get frosty in the future before planting. May 15th is what I always went with, but then checked the weather like a crazy person to see if I could get away with planting a week or two earlier. Okay, enough rambling here’s the list of stuff to get if you accidentally kill all your new starts or don’t have time for all that seed starting craziness:
Starting at A with Ageratum. Even if you don’t want to chop them for bouquets, these guys are butterfly and bee magnets. There are no bad ageratums, but my favorite two are:
“AGERATUM HOUSTONIANUM (Floss Flower): Fuzzy blue, purple, pink or white
flowers highlight this common bedding plant and depending on variety, uses range from
edging to stunning, long-stemmed cut flowers. Grow in humus-rich, evenly moist, yet
well-drained soil. Plant in full sun. Attracts butterflies
‘Blue Horizon’–Mid-blue flowers on sturdy stems make this variety ideal as a cut flower.
Very attractive to butterflies. Grows to 24-30”. No staking or pinching required. (3-pack)
‘Red Seas’ (Redtop)–Dark red flower buds. When in full bloom, color changes to a
purple red. Ideal for bedding and as a cut flower. 2’ tall. (3-pack)”
I love Amaranth so much, but it hates San Francisco. Even in the relatively sunny part of town it always looked pitiful when I tried to grow it. They’re relatively easy to start from seed, but if you don’t have time for that Klein’s has TEN different ones to chose from:
‘Aurora’ (A. tricolor)–Decorative, bright yellow foliage set atop bushy lower leaves of
lush, dark green produce a striking effect. Grows 3-4′ in height and is ideal for the back
of the border or mass plantings. (3-pack)
‘Autumn’s Touch’ (A. cruentus)–Blending perfectly into the late summer and autumn
landscape, the giant 2-foot plumes atop this red amaranth combine soft pistachio-green
and bronze tones to create restful, airy beauty in the sunny annual bed. The color
shades from more intense green at the base to lighter celery hues and bronze at the
tips. Unusual and so pretty. Perfect for cutting for fresh or dried arrangements, these
massive blooms last for many weeks on the plant, delighting the songbirds who flock to
feast on their seeds all fall. 36-48” tall. (3-pack)
‘Carnival’ (A. gangeticus)–A festive combination of hot summer colors explode in
gardens and landscapes. A striking foliage plant with fiery shades of yellow and red
contrasting with bronze leaves. Tall purple flowers are produced in late summer. A focal
point for any display. Grows to 4’. (3-pack)
‘Coral Fountain’ (A. caudatus)–A coral-pink version of languid flowing everlasting
amaranth. There are so few flowers that drape from a bouquet with this kind of trailing
drama, it seems every cutting garden needs a bed of caudatus amaranths. Grows to 5
feet tall. (3-pack)
‘Dreadlocks’ (A. caudatus)–Dreadlocks is an upright plant about 3 feet tall and up to 18
inches wide. Its flower stems point straight down, however, reaching 3 feet to brush the
garden floor. All along the stems, closely spaced, are borne magenta blooms in big,
tight, rounded 1½-inch clusters. A showstopping plant that steals the scene in garden or
vase, Dreadlocks is a joyously bright, floriferous, unique Amaranthus you won’t want to
‘Early Splendor’ (A. tricolor)–Bright crimson red on bronze leaves. Very brilliant. Grows
36-48” tall. (3-pack)
‘Flaming Fountain’ (A. tricolor)–Upper foliage teeming with red, crimson and bronze.
Leaves are lance-shaped. Grows to 42” tall. (3-pack)
‘Hot Bisquits’ (A. caudatus)–Hot Biscuits is a rich amber color that seems to glow in the
garden–the large burnt umber seed heads are impressive and eye-catching. Gorgeous
in arrangements as well. This species was in use as a food source in Central America
as early as 4000 BC. The plant is usually green in color, but a purple variant was once
grown for use in Inca rituals. Grows to 6-7 feet tall. (3-pack)
‘Joseph’s Coat’ (A. tricolor) — A useful annual for extra dry
areas providing long-lasting blooms and colorful foliage. Blazing colors for
backgrounds, beds and flower arrangements. Prefers full sun. Revels in hot, humid
weather. Edible leaves and seeds. The seeds were once a staple grain of the
Americas and are making a comeback in local grocery stores
‘Redtails’ (A. caudatus)–The age old ‘Love Lies Bleeding’. Red pendulous flower spikes
over arching branches. 3-5’. (3-pack)
I’m a sucker for anything that’ in the orangey color range and attracts monarch butterflies.
This is a perennial in coastal California, but I just read below folks kept it as a houseplant back in the super olden days. It never would have occurred to me to treat as a houseplant, but now I want to try it out. I’m a big fan of all Asclepias.
“ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA (Annual Milkweed, Bloodflower): Nonstop, 2-4” blooms
that very much resemble our native asclepias tuberosa and monarch butterflies love
them as much if not more. Plants are erect and bushy, growing to 36”. For full-sun in
well-drained soil. Native to Central and South America. Easy to overwinter and appears
in houseplant books from the early 20th century.
‘Red Butterfly’–This colorful, tropical variety grows to a height of 2 feet with bright
orange and red, umbel type flower heads and glossy gray-green foliage. (3-pack)
Silky Series–The only widely available series. Available in deep red, gold and scarlet.
(2 and/or 3-pack based on source)”
Years ago when Sunset was still in Menlo Park I sweet talked this Bidens out of wholesaler there with new plants on display on the last day of Sunset Celebration. It was one of the ‘Campfire’ series, but I don’t know which one. It’s another perennial in coastal California that reseeded itself everywhere, so I never needed to buy it again. This is an exception to my multi-pack rule, but you need to splurge on a few 5″ annuals. Any of the varieties are wonderful spillers in containers.
“BIDENS FERULIFOLIA (Golden Goddess): Daisy-like blooms, rather similar to a
coreopsis, with deeply cut, lacy leaves. Blooms nonstop. Plants have a tendency to be
very vigorous, but are tough as nails, thriving in the hot summer sun. Prefer to be kept
moderately moist, but can wilt with little damage. Very popular in the 19th century and
only recently making a big comeback. Attracts butterflies.
Campfire Series–With its delicate 1 inch blooms, Campfire™ is a long blooming annual
gracing your garden with color from spring until the first frost. Very heat and drought
tolerant, the mounding trailing habit of Campfire™ The perfect addition to landscape
designs and in combination planters. Grows to 8-12” tall with an 18-24” spread.
Available in ‘Flame’ (bright orange). (5” pot)
I’m pro any type of Calendula and Klein’s has a nice selection. As a former attractive salad grower (something I’d like to revive) Calendula is pretty darn easy to start from seed and makes your salads even more beautiful with their petals. I didn’t realize you can eat the leaves until just now.
“CALENDULA OFFICINALIS (Pot Marigold): Edible flower. Petals used to color foods
to replace saffron. Easy to grow annual. Enjoys sunny, cool conditions. Prefers well drained, moist soil. Tall varieties make great cut flowers. Self-sows easily. Leaves are also edible.”
I LOVE all Celosias! How can you not love a flower that looks like brains? I love the non-brainy feathery ones, too. It’s another one that didn’t love SF’s cold summers. Klein’s has FIFTEEN different types! My favorites are the kinds that grow tall, but check out ‘Dracula’, what a weirdo. You could even do a Celosia container of craziness with tall, medium and short guys.
“CELOSIA, COMB-TYPE, Celosia argentea cristata: A mutation of the plumosa types
described below forming crested flowers like a rooster’s comb. Excellent in fresh or
dried arrangements. Selection may change throughout the season based on
availability from outside vendors.
Chief Series–A series of celosia bred especially for cut flower purposes. Uniform
growth with a wide range of flower colors. Tall plants with huge 6” cauliflower shaped
combs. Mix comes in colors of dark red, carmine, rose, gold and red and yellow bicolor.
Perfect for hot, sunny locations. Height: 36-40”. (4-pack)
Cramer’s Z–A floral novelty with versatility. Unique Celosia with 6-8 in. long,
spikelike, brilliant magenta blooms on top of long, strong stems. Each plant produces
8-10 stems perfect for cutting. Makes a great landscaping item. Up to 48” tall. (3-pack)
‘Dracula’–A novelty comb celosia that is a first-of-its-kind showing off one big, 6 to 7″,
flower on top of each plant. In the greenhouse, combs are red and foliage is green with
some red. But once outdoors, foliage is darker and more purple-tones and comb is
darker purple. Unusual shaped and eye-catching color adds drama to landscapes,
gardens and containers. 8-16” tall. (5” pot from outside vendors)
‘Prestige Scarlet’–A 1997 AAS Winner. An exceptional heat-tolerant landscape
performer. The 15-20” plants produce 3 1/2” combs and continue to branch after the
central flower emerges. Will reach a spread of 18-20”. (4-pack)
CELOSIA, FOLIAGE-TYPE, Celosia argentea hybrids: With limited options for
attractive foliage plants from seed, growers often turn to coleus to add interest and
texture to containers. These new celosia hybrids are grown for their stunning foliage,
rather than their flowers. Sun-loving foliage accent plants for patio planters with a
different texture and look, as well as for quick-growing, low, shrub-like plants that look
great at the front of the border.
Sol Series–Two distinct bicolor foliage patterns are featured in this collection. Grows
20-14” tall and wide. Available in ‘Gekko Green’ (green foliage flushed with burgundy
and purple) and ‘Lizzard Leaf’ (burgundy red foliage). (4-pack)
CELOSIA, PLUME, Celosia argentea plumosa: A plant of tropical origin, the shiny,
deep maroon or bright green leaves are topped by tiny flowers clustered into plumy
feather dusters, generally in shades of red, yellow, orange or shocking pink. Remove
any existing blooms when planting out for best success. Excellent in fresh or dried
arrangements. Grow in full sun. Selection may change throughout the season
based on availability from outside vendors.
Century Series–Large, beautiful plumes with great basal branching. Outstanding
garden performance. An AAS Winner from 1985. Usually available in red, yellow and a
mix from outside vendors. (4-pack)
‘Dragon’s Breath’–Look forward to an abundance of vibrant red foliage that will add
spectacular color and texture to mixed containers and landscapes! An extra-large, late
blooming variety with gorgeous fall flowering plumes of color. Spreads to 16. 24″tall.
(5” Pot from outside vendors)
Fresh Look Series–At 20-24” tall, these basal-branched plants are topped by plumes up
to 10” tall. Vigorous, with outstanding garden performance. New leaves cover old
plumes so plants always look good. Available in gold (a 2007 AAS Winner), orange and
red. (4-pack and/or large 6-pack from outside vendors)
‘New Look’–A 1988 AAS Winner. Glowing deep red plumes atop bronze foliage. Grows
to 15”. Stunning in the landscape. Great basal branching. (4-pack and/or large 6-pack
from outside vendors)
‘Sylphid’–Green-yellow feathery plumes sit on tall straight stems. The perfect color for
every garden and bouquets. 30-40” tall. (4-pack)
CELOSIA, WHEAT, Celosia argentea spicata: Taller, more open and less flamboyant
than the plumosa types. Well-suited for the wildflower garden. Excellent in fresh or
dried arrangements. Grow in full sun.
‘Flamingo Feather’–Light pink, wheat-like plumes which fade to white under high heat.
Harvest early to retain color. Tassle-like plumes are 2-3” long atop 18-26” stems. (4-
‘Flamingo Purple’–Very upright habit. Bushier, twice as large and later to bloom than
Flamingo Feather. 3-4’ tall. (4-pack)
Kosmo Series–Fleuroselect Quality Award Winner. Genetically dwarf strain. Upright
main stem gives rise to multiple flowering side branches. Flower heads contrast nicely
with dark green foliage. Excellent performer in the landscape or in containers. Does
best in full sun to light shade and average soil with good drainage. Just 8” tall. Available
in orange, purple-red, salmon and yellow. (4-pack)
Another one of my most favorite flowers and it’s easy to direct seed.
Coleus is so cool it deserves it’s own post and for the most part the leaves pretty much sell themselves in the nursery. Klein’s has a ton of great ones, I’m not going to go in to lists. Someone posted a lame Coleus flickr picture I took on Pinterest and the number of views it gets is staggering. Something tells me I’m going to have a Coleus problem when we get back.
I’m not sure what the Cosmos above is, it’s similar to the super tall guys listed below, but better. I don’t have any other pictures of Cosmos except for the orange one unfortunately. My dad always planted these when I was a kid. I’m not a big fan of the shorter varieties, but the tall ones are fun.
“COSMOS BIPINNATUS: This airy stemmed, graceful plant is easy to grow in beds,
backgrounds or cut flowers. Requires full sun, good soil and wind protection. Tall
varieties may require staking. Do not fertilize. Deadhead regularly to prolong blooming.
A classic for the cottage garden.
Sensation Mix–36-48” tall. Elegant, daisy-like blooms in pink, rose, crimson and white.
Attractive fern-like foliage. An easy-to-grow favorite for the cottage garden. (4-pack
and/or large 6-pack from outside vendors)
Like Coleus, Dahlias come in tons of super cool shapes and sizes. Klein’s has tons of great options. Mine always got powdery mildew in SF, so I didn’t grow them much myself. I’m hoping that will change next summer. Check out Floret Flower’s Discovering Dahlia book and their website in general for tons of great cut flower information and gorgeous pictures.
So after I had Zoe I stopped labeling my pictures and especially plants. I’m sure I have tons of cool Gomphrena pictures since I love them all, but since none of them are tagged except this one I can’t find them. ‘Fireworks’ appears to the the old skool version of ‘Truffula Pink’. Dang, ‘Horton’s Revenge’ looks super cool with it’s limey green leaves, the link I added goes to cosmic something, but I think they’re the same plants.
GOMPHRENA GLOBOSA (Bedding Globe Amaranth): Well-branched upright plants
produce continuous bouquets of brightly colored, clover-like blooms all summer long.
Harvesting promotes flower production. Grow in average soil with good drainage in full
sun. Both heat and drought tolerant. A must for the dried-flower garden!
Buddy Series–Ball shaped, compact plants. Excellent for bedding and pots; good
weather tolerance. Grows to 8” tall. Available in purple, rose and white. (4-pack)
‘Horton’s Revenge’–Bright chartreuse foliage with magenta globe amaranth flowers;
Wonderful in containers as a contrasting pop of color. Grows to 15-24” tall. (5” pot)
Ping Pong Series–This series delivers an explosion of color in containers and mass
plantings. It also adds height and dimension making it terrific as a garden cut flower.
Grows to 20” tall. Available in lavender, purple and white. (4-pack)
GOMPHRENA HAAGEANA (Tall Globe Amaranth): Tall, cut flower versions of the
shorter bedding globe amaranths. Grow in similar conditions in full sun.
Qis Series–QIS Series is an ideal selection for either landscaping or bouquets. Loose,
open-branched, and great for cutting beds and mid-borders. 24-30” tall. Available in
carmine and purple. (4-pack)
‘Strawberry Fields’–A popular cut flower grower favorite, Strawberry Fields gomphrena
provides an abundance of strawberry-red globular flowers on tall branching plants.
Flowers are produced from summer to early fall and are great for cutting and drying.
Grows to 22” tall. (4-pack)
GOMPHRENA PULCHELLA (Globe Amaranth):
‘Truffula Pink’–Looking for a different annual to add some pazazz to your garden?
‘Truffula Pink’ gomphrena is a tough, low-maintenance plant with long-lasting, intense
iridescent pink blossoms tipped with yellow. This cultivar grows quickly to form a full,
dense basal clump of leaves 2.5-3 feet or more across, then produces numerous long,
sturdy but thin, upright flower stems 3 feet tall with just a few narrow leaves along those
stems (reminiscent of Verbena bonariensis, all stems and flowers with little foliage). A
sure-fire winner in the landscape. (5” pot)
Marigolds are magnificent. I like the French and African ones that get tall, but Klein’s doesn’t seem to have any. I also like the tiny flowered little signet guys. Marigolds are super easy to start from seed like my favorite ‘Harlequin‘ above. Select Seeds has some great varieties, I love ‘Burning Embers‘.
“MARIGOLD, Tagetes erecta (African), patula (French), tennuifolia (signet) and
anisata (sweet mace): Marigolds are among the most popular annuals and among
the easiest to grow. There are two types of marigolds: African (or American) and
French. French marigolds are free-flowering, trouble free plants excellent for bedding,
edging or containers. They are shorter and bushier. Flowers can be double or single
and are available in all the marigold colors including red. African marigolds are taller
and best used in backgrounds and borders. They take longer to bloom and do not have
red in their color range. Flowers can be up to 4” across. There are now also triploids,
which are a combination of the two. Marigolds thrive in full sun in average garden soil.
Deadheading is necessary to keep a neat appearance. Almost all marigolds have a
distinctive, pungent fragrance. Tall varieties make great cut flowers. Selection may
change throughout the season based on availability from outside vendors.
Durango Series–French. Large 2-2 1/2” anemone-type flowers on strong stems. Early
and free-flowering plants have a uniform height of 10-12” and good branching.
Available in Bolero, Flame and yellow from outside vendors. (4-pack)
‘Fireball’–French. Three different flower shades on one plant! The buds burst open to
first reveal a cluster of deep-red petals; these then take on shades of fiery bronze, and
finally turn a lovely rusty orange, giving the look of three different colored blooms on the
same plant. Grows to about 12” tall. (4-pack)
Gem Series–Signata type. Many small, single flowers on 10-12” plants. Unique
fragrant, lacy foliage. Wonderful in salads. Available in lemon yellow, red, tangerine
and a mix. (4-pack and/or large 6-pack by color)
‘Strawberry Blonde’–French. A breeding break through has created a new French
marigold with flowers in totally unique russet tones; bringing pink shades to the marigold
color palette for the very first time. Great as a ‘mixer’ but it truly comes into its own when
planted en masse in drifts or blocks. 10” tall. (4-pack and/or large 6-pack from outside
Once I learned how to pronounce Nicotiana I liked them more. I don’t even remember growing the guy above, but I did and took pictures. Nicotiana’s are cool and Klein’s has a bunch of good ones. ‘Lemon Tree’ and ‘Tinkerbell’ are really cool and ‘Only the Lonely’ is giant and fun.
NICOTIANA (Flowering Tobacco): A very old-fashioned and fragrant garden favorite.
Fragrance is especially strong in the evening although modern hybrids devote more
energy in flower size, color and the fact that they stay open all day, rather than the
fragrance. Blossoms are star-shaped and perform all summer long. Performs best in
fertile, well-drained, moist soil and tolerant of a bit of shade. Fertilize regularly and
deadhead spent blooms. A native of South America and a close relative of petunias,
nicotianas are hummingbird magnets.
Daylight Sensation Mix–A brilliant color range with many new colors. Blooms remain
open all day on 3’ plants. (4-pack)
‘Lemon Tree’ (N. langsdorfii)–Well-known green flowering nicotiana for tall borders. This
species from Brazil and Chile produces lovely apple-green blooms that add a unique
splash of color to any garden. The long sprays of flowers are great for arranging. Grows
to 3-5’. (3-pack)
‘Only the Lonely’ (Nicotiana sylvestris)–Makes an impressive statement in the garden!
Towers above all other plants in the border. Large rosettes of bright green leaves 2’
long and up to a foot across develop tall bloom stalks that bear clusters of fragrant,
white, drooping, tubular flowers 3 1/2” long and 1 1/2” across at the mouth. Blooms
open in the early evening and bear a rich jasmine-like perfume. Blooms late summer till
frost. Height 48-60”. Partial shade. (2 pack and/or 3-pack)
Perfume Series–Produces an abundance of 2” blooms held upright above the 16-20”
plants–the flowers are highly scented at night. Beautiful in the landscape or in
containers. Available in deep purple (a 2006 AAS Winner), a mix and other colors from
outside vendors. (4-pack)
‘Tinkerbell’ (Nicotiana x sanderae)–Ideal for adding height and interest to the garden,
flowering over a very long period. At 36” tall, this flowering tobacco has clusters of
flowers with dusky rose petals, lime green backs and unusual azure pollen in the center
of each flower. For a sunny spot with well-drained soil. (3-pack)
Other varieties: Usually other varieties and colors become available to us from outside
vendors including; ‘Appleblossom’, lime green, purple shades and mixes.
Salvias are a sad spot for me. They’re perennials in coastal California, and I love them. Quite are short lived though, and I was excited to see that there are lots of good Salvias I can grow in Wisconsin. I even found this cool article about growing S. coccinea from the UW Horticulture Extension. I would definitely splurge on some 5 inchers in this department if you want hummingbird action. I left off pineapple sage, since it’s more herby, but always a good one. Here are my favorites from Klein’s long list:
SALVIA COCCINEA (Texas Sage): The open, lacy effect of long flower spikes on
bushy plants is effective for an extremely long bloom season from early summer till
frost. In spite of its delicate appearance, this is one of the easiest and toughest
annuals., very tolerant of heat, drought and a wide variety of soil conditions. A magnet
Hummingbird ‘Forest Fire’–Stunning combination of fiery red flowers against black
calyces. Heat and drought tolerant plants are earlier, slightly shorter and more freebranching than ‘Lady in Red’. (4-pack)
‘Lady in Red’–1992 AAS Winner. Brilliant scarlet, trumpet-shaped flowers are produced
in loose spikes of flowers concentrated in whorls around the main spike. Earlier and
shorter than other strains, the neat plants reach 20-24” in the garden. Adapts well to
containers. Plant in full sun to part-sun. (4-pack)
Nymph Series–A very long-blooming cultivar that responds well to constant
deadheading. Long flower sprays on bushy plants. Low maintenance and thrives in all
climates. Lovely in wildflower gardens or in large containers. Grows to 24-26”.
Available in coral and ‘Snow Nymph’ (pure white). (4-pack from outside vendors)
Summer Jewel Series–Plants are densely branched producing a tidy plant habit that will
excel in both garden beds and containers. Early to bloom by almost two weeks compared
to other S. coccinea varieties. 18-20” tall. Available in red. (4-pack from outside vendors)
SALVIA FARINACEA (Mealycup Sage): A native American tender perennial. Easy to
grow, it has beautiful spikes of steely gray-blue or steely white. It grows wild in Texas
and New Mexico from early summer to fall. With its persistent long bloom, it is valued
as a cut flower and is easily dried for winter arrangements. Very disease resistant.
Plant in full sun to light shade. Roots can be dug and stored in the fall like geraniums
for planting the following season. Selection may change throughout the season
based on availability from outside vendors and may include any or all of the
‘Blue Bedder’–Produces vibrant deep blue flowers until hard frosts. Twice the size of the
ordinary blue salvia (Victoria). At 30″, this old fashioned, heirloom strain is nearly as tall
as its wild Texas parent. It produces vibrant deep blue flowers until hard frosts. (4-pack)
SALVIA GREGGII (Autumn Sage): A short, shrubby species with leathery, crinkled
leaves on branching, nearly woody stems. Spikes bear pairs of 3/4” flowers, each with
and extended lip. Blooms from late summer till frost. Needs perfect drainage in
average to poor soil. Full sun to part shade. Prune back occasionally for more compact
growth. Grows 1-2’. Like all salvia–a bee and butterfly magnet.
‘Lipstick’–One of the best performing of the Texas sage. 3’ plants are coated with
lipstick-red blooms all summer long, each highlighted by a white throat. A hummingbird
fiesta! (5” pot from outside vendors)
SALVIA GUARANITICA (Blue anise sage, Brazilian blue sage): Shrub-like plant with
wrinkled, fuzzy, medium green leaves. Blooms late summer to fall. Striking 2” long
flowers in blue, purple or white, usually with darker purple calyces. Prefers a light
shade instead of full, hot sun and evenly moist soil. Produces tuberous roots that are
stored overwinter like a dahlia. Perhaps the one plant type that will draw the most
hummingbirds to the garden! Most grow 4-6’.
‘Black & Bloom’–Makes a big impact with a thicker leaf, bigger bloom and darker stem
than the old ‘Black & Blue’. Tough as nails – it thrives in heat, drought and humidity.
Very fast to finish and easy to grow, requiring very little attention. Desirable deep blue
color against a black stem stands out in every landscape or container. Grows to 36-48”
tall. (5” pot)
‘Blue Suede Shoes’–Features light blue flowers with a black calyx on tough upright
growing plants that hummingbirds love! Use them as the center thriller in combinations
or in the landscape. Grows to 40” tall. (5” pot)
‘Purple & Bloom’–Selected for its exceptional flower power and smaller stature similar
to Black & Bloom making it a good candidate for medium to large containers. This new
salvia is 25% more compact than the leading competitor. Grows to 36-40” tall. (5” pot)
‘Rockin’ Series-Upright compact plants with green foliage. Blooms attract
hummingbirds and butterflies all summer until frost. Plant in part to full sun for best
performance. 30-40” tall. Available in deep purple and fuchsia (bright pink). (5” pot)
SALVIA INTERSPECIFIC HYBRIDS:
‘Roman Red’–This is the only vibrant red, interspecific salvia on the market! Has a more
compact habit compared to the leading competitor’s red, along with medium green
foliage. More similar in habit and performance to ‘Black & Bloom’, with a semi-mounded
habit. Offers exceptional landscape performance when compared to Salvia splendens.
28-34” tall. (5” pot)
‘Wendy’s Wish’–Fascinating, jumbo, shrimp-like buds emerge from soft coral pink
bracts and open to hot pink, tubular blooms. Attractive deep green leaves have dark
maroon stems. Compact and slightly spreading. The plant appeared as spontaneous
garden hybrid beneath a plant of Salvia mexicana ‘Lolly’ in the Victoria, Australia garden
of salvia enthusiast Wendy Smith. The corolla appears to resemble S. buchananii in
color and flower size, but the calyx somewhat resembles some Salvia splendens
varieties For full sun. Blooms from summer through fall. Plant in fertile, well-drained
soil in beds or borders. 30-40” tall and up to 30” wide. (5” pot)
SALVIA LONGISPICATA x S. FARINACEA:
‘Big Blue’–A vigorous flowering annual in a clear blue color. The first interspecific salvia
from seed. It boasts large flower spikes on a huge plant. Can grow to 3’ tall. For full sun
to part shade. (5” pot)
‘Mystic Spires’–An outstanding 2006 introduction. Large true blue flower spikes wave
above the dark green foliage. Often 1’ long, the spikes are slightly fuzzy. Naturally
compact and well-branched, this is a dwarf version of the popular, but large, ‘Indigo
Spires.’ Overall, the plant looks like a giant ‘Victoria’ blue salvia. Unlike many salvias, it
comes into bloom very quickly and flowers continuously until a hard freeze. Requires
well-drained soil in full sun. Grows to 2-3’. Like all salvia, it’s a bee, butterfly and
hummingbird magnet. Excellent cut and dried. Roots can be easily stored overwinter.
‘Playin’ the Blues’–A fragrant thriller for your containers and landscape. Standing
24-48” tall, the purplish blue spikes of Playin’ The Blues create a great focal point for
mixed containers. This continuous blooming salvia is sterile which means more flowers
for you. Planted in full sun you may enjoy the flutter of butterflies and hummingbirds
checking out the blooms. Drought tolerant and deer resistant are just two of the great
attributes. (5” pot)
SALVIA SPLENDENS (Scarlet Sage): Erect spikes of brilliantly colored blooms. The
red varieties are especially attractive to hummingbirds. Very old-fashioned and versatile
whether in beds or containers. Prefers a well-drained, moist soil in full sun or light
shade. Spacing depends upon the size of the variety. Selection may change
throughout the season based on availability from outside vendors and may
include any or all of the following:
‘Bonfire Elite’–Dark green foliage and strong basal branching supports plentiful, closely
spaced, intense red flowers. A strong garden performer. Grows to 26”. (4-pack)
I’ve been a snapdragon lover since I was a kid when I learned you could make little flower puppets with them. Maybe not so much on these crazy doubles above. I like the tall, non-bright yellow ones the most and Klein’s has some great choices. The ones above look like they could be a ‘Madam Butterfly’ selection.
SNAPDRAGON (Antirrhinum majus): The lavish color of modern hybrid snaps is
provided over a long bloom time and in many sizes, from dwarfs ideal for bedding, to
giants that are among the finest of all cut flowers. Flower colors tend to be bright and
clear and are sometimes fragrant. Snaps prefer full sun and average garden soil. They
bloom all summer long, but less profusely during hot weather. They sometimes survive
through mild winters or if well protected. Selection may change throughout the
season based on availability from outside vendors.
‘Madame Butterfly’–Double, azalea-flowering snaps. Base-branching, 24-30” plants in
a wide range of colors. A past AAS Winner. A great cut flower. (4-pack)
Rocket Series–Long flower spikes with well-spaced florets on vigorous, heat resistant
plants. Superior for backgrounds or cut flowers. Will bloom again once cut. Plants
grow 30-36” tall. Available in various colors from outside vendors. (4-pack from outside
Sonnet –A very refined, early and extremely free-flowering snap, growing to a height of
20” The dense main spike is followed by numerous secondary spikes. Wind resistance
and heat tolerance make this an excellent landscape candidate. Available in various
colors from outside vendors. (4-pack from outside vendors)
I have visions of growing flowers for making dried flower wreaths and have never grown statice before. I want really want to though. Klein’s only has the shrimpy little strawflowers listed, which I like but not as much as the tall ones.
“STATICE, ANNUAL, Limonium sinuatum: Unmistakable plants form a groundhugging rosette of dark green, wavy, deeply lobed leaves. Flower stems are stiff and
leafless, rising straight upward, then branch at the tips into an intricate candelabra of
one-sided flower clusters. Flowers are colorful and long-lasting and are a staple both
fresh and dried. Pick flower stalks when they are about 2/3 open. Statice requires a
sunny spot with well-drained, even sandy soil and is very drought tolerant.
QIS Series–Very uniform in color, flower size and stem quality. The best strain for cut
flower production. Grows to a nice tall 28”. Available in a mix of colors. (4-pack)”
Sunflowers are pretty darn easy to start from seed. I’ve always wanted to plant a sunflower fort with a bunch of Mammoths and other big guys. If you don’t have time for all that seed business, here are my favorites on the list. I tend to like the taller, multi branching ones with pollen the most. I’m intrigued by the hybrids, especially ‘Sunfinity’ five seeds are almost $10 online.
SUNFLOWER, Helianthus annuus (Annual Sunflower): Fun, easy-to grow and
perfect for backgrounds and beds. Tolerant of heat and drought. Plant in full sun. For
maximum height, fertilize weekly with a liquid fertilizer. Excellent to attract birds and
great for a kids’ garden. Flowers may be up to 12” across and can be single or double.
Seeds of all varieties are, of course, edible. Many varieties make an excellent cut
flower. Can grow up to 10’ or more or as small as 18” depending on variety.
‘Mammoth’–Plants are 7’ feet tall with large 12” yellow heads. Excellent for background
plantings or for screening purposes. Each plant produces one flower. Seeds are gray
and white striped. Usually requires staking. (3” fiber pot)
‘Suncredible’ Yellow–Bright, 4 inch golden yellow blooms from early season through the
fall. This powdery mildew resistant variety forms a 24- 48 inch mound that continuously
blooms all season without the need for deadheading. 24-40” tall. (5” pot)
‘Sunfinity’-A revolutionary new sunflower, Sunfinity will thrive and bloom continuously all
season long. Traditional sunflowers bloom late in the summer and the single blooms are
enjoyed for only a short time. Sunfinity comes into bloom in late spring and keeps on
growing long after traditional single-stem sunflowers have bloomed and died. Sunfinity
Sunflowers have lots of blooms that can be cut. Grows 3-4’ tall. (5” pot)
As a strong believer in using all the kales as decorative plants, chard is another veggie that’s fun to plant as an ornamental. It’s great for early/late containers when temps are cool.
SWISS CHARD, Beta vulgaris: Chard makes a lovely addition to the mixed flower
bed or containers. The stems of many varieties are brightly colored and the leaves offer
delightful texture to the landscape and pots. This cool season edible green is a very
close relative of the beet (whose foliage and stems are also delicious). Though more
heat tolerant than most greens, chard is at its peak in early summer and again in the fall
when the weather turns cooler. Though usually sown directly into the garden in early
spring, chard transplants rather easily. Both the stems and leaves of chard are used in
salads and sautees. When sauteed, the chopped stems should be added a few
minutes before the leaves to ensure tenderness. The leaves can be used like and
make a great substitute for spinach. Harvest as needed.
‘Bright Lights’–Probably the most beautiful of the chards with stems in shades of gold,
pink, orange, purple and white and hints of every color in between. The flavor is milder
than many chards. Grows to 20” tall. A 1998 AAS Award Winner. (4-pack)
One of my all time favorites, it’s the perfect orange, sunflowery, multi-branching plant and easy to start from seed. The Fiesta one below seems a little shrimpy only growing to 2-3 feet tall, but I can see how that size would be useful.
TITHONIA ROTUNDIFOLIA (Mexican Sunflower): A fast growing, easy-to-care-for
annual that provides spectacular bloom over a long season. Tall and abundantly
branched with dark green leaves and loads of orange and yellow zinnia-like flowers.
Very heat tolerant. Attracts butterflies. Older varieties can grow up to 7’.
‘Fiesta del Sol’–2000 AAS Winner. The first truly dwarf tithonia. Single, 2-3” daisy
flowers on lush, green foliage, excellent for cut flowers and attracting butterflies. Pest free. Thrives in summer heat and humidity. Plant in full sun. (2-pack)
Don’t let that crappy picture above sway you from this cool, and not easy to find plant.
TRACHELIUM CAERULEUM (Throatwort): The flower heads of this unusual annual
are huge! They are made up of hundreds of tiny, trumpet-shaped, purple, pink or white,
lightly perfumed flowers that create an airy mass up to a foot in diameter. Plants are
shrub-like, with sharply toothed, dark green leaves and reddish branching stems.
Excellent cut flower. Attracts butterflies. Plant in full to part sun.
‘Lake Michigan Series’–Upright habit grows to 28-48” tall. One of the best cutting types
from the Lake Series. Available only in a mix and not individual colors. (2-pack)
Few plants make me happier than Verbena bonariensis, especially the masses of them at Cornerstone. Our plant reseeded every year in SF and I would let them live in the cracks. They grew taller than me and would grab you on the way in to the house. Heck I even planted one, so I could see the flowers through my kitchen window and release butterflies on them. I’m not so sure about the new fandangled ‘Meteor Shower’ since I’d rather have purple than pink blooms, but ‘Buenos Aires’ looks like a good one. I’ve also not grown many of the shorty verbenas before, but feel like I should investigate as they seem like a lot of fun.
VERBENA BONARIENSIS (Brazilian Vervain): This outstanding annual or deserves
its popularity. It makes an architectural statement with slender, willowy stems that stand
up to 6 feet tall and do not need staking. It then branches out widely near the top where
rich lilac-purple flower clusters stand alone, as if they are floating. This verbena makes
a great see-through plant. A wonderful cut flower and a bee and butterfly magnet. Self
sows readily where growing conditions suit it.
‘Buenos Aires’–A free-flowering novelty cut flower and an excellent garden plant.
Uniform 3-4’ plants are covered with vibrant lavender flowers atop strong, wiry stems.
Easy to grow and heat tolerant. Don’t let the height scare you in that plants are so airy
they are virtually see-thru and, therefore, usable near the front of the border. Surely a
conversation piece. (2-pack)
‘Meteor Shower’–New from Proven Winners. An airy, tall variety with a long bloom
period; pinkish-purple buds that open to lilac flowers, that will eventually mature to
nearly white; a great plant for borders or containers. Meteor Shower Verbena features
airy clusters of lilac purple flowers with violet overtones at the ends of the stems from
late spring to mid fall. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its narrow leaves remain
green in color throughout the season. 30” tall. (5” pot)
Violas and pansies love the cool SF weather, so you could grow them all year round. I love them all, especially the orange ones. They’re even relatively easy to start from seed. I tend to go for the smaller flowered violas over pansies, but ‘Frizzle Sizzle’ is super cool. The viola Sorbet series is also adorable. They make salads so cheery you can candy them, too. It’s also one of the first things you can plant that will survive the “freak” April snowstorm.
VIOLA HYBRIDS (Johnny Jump-up): The small-flowered pansy. Violas can actually
be considered hardy perennials in mild winters and self-sow readily in either case.
Flowers are longer lasting than pansies and are edible. Space plants 6” apart in full sun
to light shade in loose, fertile loam soil. Water frequently. Violas tend to do best during
cool weather. Use as edging or in containers. Fall blooming varieties are becoming
increasingly available (available late summer). Selection may change throughout the
season based on availability from outside vendors.
Sorbet Series–Unique miniature hybrids combine the charm of violas with the explosive
colors of pansies. The compact and mound-shaped plants, 6” high spreading to 12”
wide, are very heat and cold tolerant, blooming freely for a long period of time.
Available in blue blotch, icy blue, Lemon Chiffon, orange jump-up XP, pink wing XP,
primrose blotch XP, purple XP, yellow XP and an XP blotch mix. (4-pack)
PANSY x WITTROCKIANA: Long a standard in most spring garden
frosts have killed most garden
annuals. Excellent in containers and mass plantings. Traditionally pansies burned out
with the onset of summer heat, but new hybrids have become extremely heat-tolerant
and will bloom summer-long during rare cool, damp summers. Blossoms are edible and
taste faintly of wintergreen. Grow in moist soil, rich in humus in part-shade. Plants
grow only 4-6” tall. Space about 8”. Available again in August for fall sales including
winter hardy varieties. Selection may change throughout the season based on
availability from outside vendors.
‘Blueberry Thrill’–These compact, 6” plants show off beautiful, 2.5” flowers in a rich
combination of blue, white and yellow with a blotch. (4-pack)
Colossus Series–Giant 3 1/2-4” blooms over dense, small foliaged plants. A very early
variety for such large flowers. Very short internodes and a high bud count mean even
more color from this workhorse, which reaches just 4-6” tall. Blooms are upright facing.
Available in assorted colors from outside vendors. (4-pack)
Delta and Delta Premium Series–A very early spring flowering series. Large flowering,
compact and spreading. Holds its flowers upright on sturdy, short stems. Heat and
stress tolerant. Selection changes based on availability, but includes: blue with blotch,
red, red with blotch, true blue, violet, violet & white, yellow, yellow with blotch and a few
Frizzle Sizzle Series–One of the rare pansies that offer an attractive frilly flower form.
Stronger ruffling occurs in cool conditions. Available in lemonberry (yellow petals, edged
in lavender). (4-pack)
Matrix Series–A new very well-branched and compact variety that is very uniform
among the colors. Large flowers are held beautifully strong on short stems. Selection
changes based on availability from outside vendors. (4-pack)
So I haven’t talked much about my secret love for decorative corn, but I love it and have been planting it for years. It’s so easy to start from seed, and I’ve even gotten it to produce little ears of red corn shoved in SF containers. The one above is from Botanical Interests and is supposed to get tall. I had no business cramming that many of them in there, but I did anyways. It looks like Klein’s has one that a little shorter.
ZEA MAYS, var. japonica (Ornamental Corn)–Tall annual cereal grass bearing
kernels on large ears: widely cultivated in America in many varieties; the principal cereal
in Mexico and Central and South America since pre-Columbian times–yes the same
species as the corn we eat, but with a showy twist. For full sun. Kernels can be
‘Pink Zebra’–The only dwarf variegated ornamental corn on the market. Gardeners
love the dramatic color and texture in their late-season mixed planters and gardens.
Green and white striped foliage adds showy purples/red/pinks in cool nights/long days.
each stalk produces many small ears with purple kernels and tassels. Grows to 4-5’ tall.
There is no flower I love more than a zinnia. Every year I’d buy them at Half Moon Bay, or many times even start them from seed and watch them get powdery mildew and suck. The shorty Profusion series would be okay, but I only wanted giant cactus flowered ones and all the benary’s giants. I grew them in Oakland, but it’s too damp in SF. Word is it’s easiest to plant them from seed in WI. Luckily Klein’s has an excellent selection to choose from to get things going early. Why not plant seeds and baby plants at the same time? You always need more zinnia in your life.
Benary’s Giant Series–Thick, 30-36” stems hold 4-6”, fully double blooms. An old
variety. Available in purple and a mix of bright colors. (4-pack)
‘Cut & Come Again’ Mix–Long-stemmed flowers 2 1/2″ across in a blend of pink, bright
scarlet, yellow, salmon, white and more. The more you cut, the more they bloom, and
they keep blooming from midsummer until frost. Heat-loving and very easy to grow.
Great for cutting as well as in the garden. Up to 30” tall. (4-pack)
‘Envy’–Envy belongs in every flower arranger’s garden! Its unusual vivid chartreuse
color sets off brighter summer flowers with style and pizzazz and harmonizes equally
well with soft pastels. 3-3 1/2’ tall. Flowers are semi-double. (3-pack)
Pop Art Series–Large 3” bicolored dappled blooms on 2 1/2-3’ plants. Very eye catching. Available in golden-yellow sprinkled with red. (4-pack)
‘Giant Cactus’ Mix–Add fireworks to bouquets! Stunning cactus-type flower form with
layers of narrow, pointed petals. Large 3-4 inch fully double and semi-double blooms.
Sturdy upright plants produce an abundance of flowers in orange, red, yellow, pink,
salmon and purple. 24-36” tall. (4-pack)
Lilliput Series–A smaller and earlier variety. Button-type flowers come in the usual array
of zinnia colors on 18 to 24 inch plants. If deadheaded, bloom is continuous from midsummer to the first frost. Available in a mix. (4-pack)
‘State Fair’ Mix–Large, husky plants with tremendous 6” dahlia-like blooms. The best
cut flower zinnia we offer. Excellent color range of lavender, orange, pink, purple, rose
and scarlet. Very tolerant to mildew and alternaria. (4-pack)
Swizzle–Interesting novelty series displays big, fully double, bicolor blooms on full,
bushy, 10-12” plants. Good for gardens and containers. Available in ‘Cherry & Ivory’
and ‘Scarlet & Yellow. (4-pack)
‘Uproar Rose’–Well-branched plants are covered with large, fully double, deep rose
blooms. A perfect cut flower! 24-32” tall. (3-pack)
‘Zowie Yellow Flame’–A 2006 AAS Winner. These bright, bicolor blooms will give you
all the drama of a desert sunset. Each 3-4” semi-double bloom contains a scarlet-rose
center with yellow petal edges. Plants have a strong bushy habit and make excellent
cut flowers. 22-28” tall. (3-pack)
ZINNIA MARYLANDICA: An artificial hybrid between Z. angustifolia and Z. violacea.
The Profusion Series was the first of this type to be made available to the public during
the 1990’s. Selection may change throughout the season based on availability
from outside vendors.
Profusion Series (Z. angustifolia x elegans)–Something totally new in zinnias and one of
the most celebrated of garden annuals to come along in years. They produce single,
daisy-like flowers 2” wide. Free-flowering all season; no deadheading is needed! Plant
in full sun. Adapts well to containers. The most mildew-resistant zinnia available.
Height 12-18”. Available in cherry (1999 AAS Winner), apricot, ‘Fire’ (orange-red),
orange, red, white and yellow. (4-pack)