Zoo Garden Experts Reveal 2017 Picks for Best Annuals

Posted January 3, 2018 by Scott Beuerlein
The best and brightest of our 2017 trials!

And you thought all those annuals at the Cincinnati Botanical Garden & Zoo were there just to make it pretty. While they indeed do that, and the cornucopia of textures, flowers, and foliage colors lift and inspire every zoo visitor, it’s important to note that there’s a robust trials program behind it.

That’s right. We’ve been trialing annuals for 13 years now. Virtually all our annuals are provided by breeders, growers, brokers, and marketing companies for us to evaluate new varieties and to watch older ones. In return, we label the plants so the public can make note of their favorites, and we report back to the providers on performance.

We also put together a yearly list of the Zoo’s Best Annuals for local gardeners! These are varieties that looked beautiful and performed extremely well in our hot and humid weather and sticky clay. With reasonable care and siting, they will work great in your garden.

Over 13 years of trialing, we have compiled a Hall of Fame list of yearly top performers. This year Pentas Northern Lights Lavender and Zahara series Zinnia were added to the list.

We encourage every homeowner, business, and municipality to bring the beauty of annuals into their lives. Whether in containers or in garden beds, annuals improve quality of life by bringing the beauty and wonder of plants to where we live. Many annuals also serve as season-long providers of nectar and pollen to butterflies and other pollinators. To learn which perform this important task, please visit our website. There, you’ll also find our full end of year annuals trialing report, and past lists of Zoo’s Best winners.

Salvia Mystic Spires Improved

In addition to being a beautiful plant, Salvia Mystic Spires Improved served as a magnet for pollinators. Butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects could not resist its bounty of nectar and pollen. Many pollinating insects, which include some wasps and different flies, are essential to any garden’s health and, indeed, to our survival. They are not aggressive when feeding. Most don’t even have stingers.

These cold days of winter are the perfect time to think ahead to spring. Take advantage of our years of trialing expertise to ensure yourself a beautiful 2018.

Dianthus Jolt Cherry

Some like it hot, but not normally Dianthus selections. Jolt Cherry shook off summer heat.

Coleus Flamethrower Spiced Curry

We loved the unique color and texture of Coleus FLAME THROWER Spiced Curry.

Sunstanding Orange Aurora

The hot orange of Impatiens SUNSTANDING Orange Aurora brings eye catching color in either sun or shade.

Pentas Graffiti® Lipstick

Another fine Pentas, GRAFFITI Lipstick excels both for flower power and attracting pollinators.