Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Top 2018 Annuals

Posted January 3, 2019 by Scott Beuerlein

By Steve Foltz, Kyra Back, Tosh Dobias, and Scott Beuerlein

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Annuals Trials

Well, 2018 was another colorful and glorious year at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Over 48,000 annuals were planted and enjoyed by approximately 1.7 million Zoo visitors. They were gawked at, slobbered over, utilized as backgrounds in countless selfies, and many pics were taken of labels so folks could try favorites at home. But most importantly, the annuals were evaluated regularly all season by the Zoo’s incredible team of Horticulturists. Our Botanical Garden volunteers also provided their input, and even visitors were able to “flag” their favorites during our Field Trials Day. After hours of soul searching, argument, laughter, tears, and pulling of rank, we are now pleased to reveal the best of the best. So here, now, are the 2018 Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Top Ten Annuals for 2018, turned up to eleven!

  1. Begonia BabyWing® Bicolor
  2. Begonia Megawatt™ series
  3. Canna Cannova® Bronze Scarlet
  4. Coleus Main Street Wall Street
  5. Euphorbia Diamond Mountain™
  6. Helianthus Sunfinity™
  7. Ornamental Pepper Midnight Fire
  8. Salvia Bodacious™ Rhythm & Blues
  9. Vinca Valliant™ Pure White
  10. Zinnia Oklahoma series
  11. Zinnia Zahara® XL Pink

And for the very same reason we couldn’t keep our Top Ten to just ten, we found ourselves needing to enthusiastically share a few additional varieties that are also deserving of recognition and space in your garden!

  • Angelonia Angeleface™ Blue
  • Begonia BabyWing® White Bronze Leaf
  • Begonia Cocktail® Series
  • Coleus PartyTime™ Sangria
  • Dahlia Mystic Spirit
  • Marigold Bonanza™ Gold
  • Marigold Taishan Yellow
  • Mexican Feather Grass ColorGrass® Pony Tails
  • Sweet Potato Sweet Caroline Kiwi
  • Zinnia Double Zahara™ Bright Orange

But you don’t have to take it from just us! Fan favorites from our Visitors Field Trials Day, which was held on August 15th, include:

  • Angelonia Serenita® Mix
  • Celosia Intenz™ Dark Purple
  • Impatiens SunPatiens® Spreading salmon
  • Impatiens SunStanding Rose Aurora
  • Impatiens SunStanding Salmon
Helianthus Sunfinity

Annuals serve a much-needed purpose in modern landscapes. They are uniquely suited to sites where other plants cannot grow, such as urban areas and in containers. They are exceptional at bringing the joy of color, flowers, and wildlife to people in private, public, and sometimes stressful spaces, and many do a fantastic job of supporting pollinators by providing pollen and nectar throughout the growing season. (For more information on annuals and other plants that support ecologically important pollinators in your garden, visit our website here.)

This is the 17th year of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s annuals trial/display program, and we feel it is an important responsibility to share this information on the best performers with gardeners and green industry professionals. Successful landscapes begin with dependable and beautiful plants, and we are confident that all the above plants, if sited and given normal garden care, will make great additions to any Midwestern/Ohio Valley planting.

For lists of past winners, and our Zoo’s Best lists for trees, shrubs, perennials, and more, please visit our website. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming release of CZBG’s Best New Perennials.