By Marilyn McKinley
OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer
Seems like we have color everywhere now.
So many beautiful perennials are in full bloom, or will be shortly.
But a quick burst of color then they are gone.
I try to cut mine back after blooming, hoping for a second bloom. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Want more color? Don’t know what to do?
It’s not too late to plant some annuals for a spectacular late-summer bloom.
You can visit the garden center; you may find annuals at a real bargain.
However, I find many of these annuals look straggly, are so needy and labor-intensive at a time when I am tired of all that.
The answer – plant seeds!
Plus, many plants available to plant by seed are pollinator-friendly too.
Old-fashioned flowers such as sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias, cleome, alyssum, coleus, nasturtiums, nicotiana, salvia, heliotrope and marigolds all have enough time if planted soon to produce beautiful late summer blooms.
These are sun-loving, fast-growing annuals. Most tolerate heat well.
If you plant in a hot dry spell, you might consider starting the seeds in dappled shade in small pots until they are ready for transplanting.
If planting sunflowers, be sure to check on bloom time. Some are 50 to 60 days; some are 90 days to bloom. Those which are taller and have giant blooms take longer to bloom.
Zinnias will germinate in about a week, and they are off to produce an array of colorful blooms. Zinnias come in almost every color except blue. They make outstanding cut flowers.
Be sure to space them far enough apart for good air circulation as they are susceptible to powdery mildew.
Cosmos have feathery foliage, and wonderful flowers. They come in all shade of pink, white, burgundy, and yellow.
They, too make great cut flowers. I find the yellow ones tend to drop petals once cut, though.
Nicotiana are so fragrant, especially in the evening. White, pink and red tubular blooms make them a hummingbird favorite.
Nasturtiums come in dwarf, climbing and taller varieties.
They are so attractive around the mailbox.
Blossoms are edible, just toss some into a summer salad for a pretty peppery surprise.
For plants that like it on the shady side (not full shade) you can’t beat coleus. So many color and patterns.
I buy potted heliotrope, wonderful deep purple vanilla scented blooms, one of my favorites.
One of my all-time favorite plants is pineapple sage. Find it in the herb section. Leaves are great in iced tea. It’s a late bloomer and a hummingbird magnet.
For garden plans, drawings, seedng information and more, visit http://go.osu.edu/moreannuals.