Zinnia elegans ‘Queeny Lime Orange’
Height/Spread: 18 to 24 inches tall, 6 to 12 inches wide
Exposure: Full sun
Bloom Time: Summer to frost
Color: Shades of lime, yellow, peach, salmon and orange
The 2 to 4-inch dahlia-like flowers bloom all season long on this sturdy, compact plant.
Tagetes patula 'Aurora Yellow Fire’
Height/Spread: 6 to 12 inches tall and wide
Exposure: Full Sun
Bloom Time: Spring through mid-fall
Color: Yellow flower with red-orange center highlights
Martha Washington geranium
Zones: 10-11, or grown as an annual in colder climates
Exposure: Full sun to part shade
Height/Spread: 12 to 24 inches tall / 12 to 24 inches wide
Bloom Time: Summer
Colors: Pink, purple, lavender, red, orange and white; often speckled or multi-colored
One of the most-striking and long-lasting cut flowers isn’t even a flower. The foliage of ‘Crane Red’ ornamental kale forms a tight cluster, rose veined with a rosy-purple center, at the end of a long, sturdy stem, looking like an oversize rose blossom. The Crane Series (which comes in several colors, including bicolor and white) was bred specifically for cutting, taking the popular cool-season annual kale to new heights, up to 2 feet tall, with heads up to 7 inches wide.
Hot-pink leaves with ruffled, variegated borders edged with a thin line of light green make Solenostemon ‘Pink Chaos’ look like an explosion of neon paisley. Grows 6 to 18 inches tall. Can be perennial in Zones 10 to 11, but elsewhere is an annual.
Solenostemon 'Chocolate Mint' is a rich coleus with mahogany velvet leaves edged in chartreuse.
Osteospermum Summertime Series
From German grower Dümmen comes a cornucopia of fruit-inspired African daisies, with tasty names like Blueberry and Cranberry. Purple and fuchsia petals have an iridescent look, with dark violet-blue centers. Typically used as an annual.
Masses of wine-red flowers on airy three-foot stems nod in the slightest breeze. A classy flowering tobacco from Floranova, more compact than its ‘Tinkerbell’ cousin. Annual.
New Guinea Impatiens
One of 22 varieties in the Celebrette Series, ‘Coral Light’ has a kickin’ combination of large coral flowers hovering over dark-edged foliage midstriped with a blaze of more coral. Needs some shade, but laughs at heat and humidity. Grows 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. Annual.
Cosmos bipinnatus Double Click 'Rose Bonbon'
This brand-new version of an old-fashioned annual flower gets high marks for pure romance. Part of the mixed-color Double Click series of double cosmos from Thompson & Morgan, this pretty-in-pink form is the first single color to be released. Rosy pom-pom blooms sit atop sturdy 2- to 3-foot stems. Like other cosmos, ‘Rose Bonbon’ is an easy-to-grow, long-lasting cut flower.
Beefsteak Plant 'Blazin' Lime'
A cultivar of Iresine herbstii, which is also disturbingly called chicken gizzard and bloodleaf, ‘Blazin’ Lime’ is the new sister to the popular ‘Blazin’ Rose’. Sports lime-green leaves with cream-yellow veining on fuchsia-pink stems. Puts on the best show in light shade. Heat tolerant. Grows 1 to 2 feet tall. Annual.
An award-winning collection of Canterbury bells (Campanula medium), the Champion Series includes pink, light blue, white and lavender. Though the species is biennial, this series can be grown from seed as an annual, blooming the first year, with upward-facing bell-shaped flowers more than an inch long. Each plant can have up to 10 stems, 2 to 4 feet tall.
Your typical sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is one huge flower on a towering stalk—not exactly vase material. But breeders have selected a host of cultivars that produce multiple smaller flowers on shorter, branching stems, perfect for cutting. ‘Jade’ is a unique color—pale green—which goes with everything in a bouquet. Each 4-to-5-foot plant produces loads of 4-to-5-inch flowers.
A bit quirky but totally cute, the ruffled, often semidouble flowers of Viola Angel Amber Kiss are very un-viola-like. Ruddy orange with a yellow center and rose-colored reverse on the wings. Each flower seems to have its own personality. Plants are 6 to 8 inches across; flowers are about an inch wide.
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Begonia 'Black Taffeta'
Big, black, star-shaped, textured leaves with a red reverse on this Terra Nova introduction give it high drama in the shade garden in summer and in a container in a bright room. Pink flowers chase away winter doldrums. It's hardy in Zones 10-11.
'Blue Celeste' sweet peas.