As I was setting up the hose to water some of my flower beds this morning, I realized I had left out a couple of crucial blooming workhorses from my floral report of yesterday. Both are annuals in my area and I was thinking of perennials, but that’s a poor excuse.
The first is Verbena bonariensis, also known as verbena-on-a-stick. Although a perennial in its native tropical South America, it won’t survive the winters in my zone 6 garden. It’s tall and graceful, with sturdy, widely branching stems and terminal clusters of vivid purple flowers that are a butterfly magnet. It self-sows freely; the single plant I put in last year produced a dozen or so volunteers, most of which I weeded out because of their location. The three plants I let grow have bloomed continuously since early summer, and will keep on blooming until the frost takes them.
The other plants I overlooked are dwarf zinnias. A friend gave me some standard zinnia seedlings last year, but the plants proved to be too large for the spot where I planted them. They bloomed like crazy and attracted humans and butterflies alike, but I had to cut them back repeatedly because they overran the garden path. Determined to have the same great look with less maintenance, I sowed dwarf zinnia seed in the spring and got several plants. They were a little slow to get going, but since they started blooming they’ve not stopped. Best of all, I haven’t had to prune them!
For those wonder why I didn’t start the seeds in the house and get a jump on the season, it’s because of the stupid cat. (For the record, we also have two other cats that are not stupid.) Maybe I’ll see if my friend can start some dwarf zinnias for me next year.