With temperatures dropping and staying cooler, many gardens lack color and life, but they don’t have to! LSU AgCenter suggests adding cool season annuals to your landscape during the winter to “enhance the quality of your garden, increase curb appeal and add color and dimension to a possibly otherwise barren landscape.” Not only will these varieties liven up an ordinarily drab garden, they will also provide much needed nourishment to nectar-loving migrating insects that are preparing to fly south for the winter.
Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia
According to LSU AgCenter, the Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunia is one of the most talked-about petunias over the past three to five years, and one of the best petunias in landscape trials at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station. The clear, bright pink flowers have proven to be one of Louisiana’s most durable varieties. They can grow 16 to 24 inches tall, with a 3-foot spread at maturity.
LSU AgCenter suggests petunias do best in Louisiana when planted from September through early November, or in late winter and early spring from early February through mid-March. “A fall planting of petunias will normally overwinter well and provide blooms until late May. Late winter- and early spring-planted petunias normally last only until early June, but if the weather cooperates, the more heat-tolerant petunias — like Supertunia Vista Bubblegum — can be oversummered successfully,” says Allen Owings of LSU AgCenter. Plant these petunias in full sun in well-drained soil. Petunias prefer acidic soil in the pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. Pine straw improves the appearance of the landscape bed and minimizes upward splashing of water from irrigation while helping with weed control. Learn more.
Homestead Purple Verbena Annuals
Another cool weather option are Homestead Purple Verbena Annuals, which provide rich purple blooms covering a 3-foot-wide canopy of foliage. They bloom twice annually – peak bloom being midwinter until late spring (mid-February through May) and then another flowering during fall. While typically verbenas are planted in the Spring, LSU AgCenter explains “we need to consider fall and winter planting of perennial verbenas for best performance the first year. This is the reason we are promoting Homestead Purple as a fall Louisiana Super Plant.” Because they grow 10″-12″ tall by 18″-24″ wide, this variety should be planted 18 inches apart, and sheared occasionally to bring back nice, new foliage growth. They should be fertilized at planting and in each spring. Verbenas need full sun and well-drained soil for best success. The low-maintenance verbena flower is rich in nectar and will nourish butterflies and bees. Learn more.
Diamonds Blue Delphinium
Lastly, adding Diamonds Blue delphinium to your cool-season bedding plant mix will add pop of color that is sure to stand out! The vividly bright-blue flowers cover the plant from winter through spring. Their soft textured green foliage is a great background for the brilliant blue flowers, and because of its compact size, it does not require staking. According to LSU AgCenter experts, “Diamonds Blue delphinium has more vigor, more stamina and more flowers than other delphinium, making it truly a Louisiana Super Plant.”
These little beauties need full to part sun, and grow 14″-16″ tall by 12″-14″ wide. Plant these anytime between October – February with a spacing of 12″ apart for a bright, electrifying sea of blue color. Learn more.
What are some of your favorite fall & winter annuals? Share your ideas by commenting below. We would love to hear what everyone else will be incorporating in their garden this season!