Deb Babcock: From sprout to spectacular


Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

Annuals that can take heat and drought:

Calliopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)

Cape-marigold, Winter (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca)

Convolvulus, Dwarf (Convolvulus tricolor)

Cornflower (Centaurea ~yanus)

Drummond's phlox (Phlox Drummondii)

Four-o'clock (Mirabilis jalapa)

Ice Plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)

Larkspur, Rocket (Delphinium ajacis)

Morning-glory (Ipomma purpurea)

Perilla, Green (Perilla frutescens)

Pricklepoppy, Showy (Argemone grandiflora)

Rose Moss (Portulaca grandiflora)

Sage, Scarlet (Salvia splendens)

Sanvitalia (Sanvitalia procumbens)

Snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata)

Summer-cypress (Kochia trichophylla)

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Scented annuals:

Ageratum Houstonianum (Mexican Ageratum) delicate

Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alyssum) delicate

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon) delicate

Calendula (Pot-marigold) pungent

Centaurea moschata (Sweet Sultan) delicate

Heliotropium peruvianum (one of the loveliest)

Iberis coronaria (Candytuft)

I. umbellata (Purple Candytuft)

Lupinus luteus (Yellow Lupine)

Mathiola bicornis (Night-scented Stock)

M. incana (Ten-weeks Stock)

Mimulus moschata (Muskplant)

Nicotiana affinis (Flowering Tobacco)

Oenothera Lamarchiana (Evening Primrose)

Petunia-heavy Reseda odorata (Mignonette) delightful


Tagetes (Marigold) pungent

Verbascum phlomoides (Tall Mullein)

Verbena erinoides (Moss Vervain)

V. hybrida Night-scented

Some of the most beautiful and imaginative gardens in Steamboat Springs are created with flowering annuals. These undemanding plants become fully grown in just one season, giving gardeners an opportunity to experiment with color, texture, shape and design.

The most attractive annual gardens tend to be planted in no more than two to three colors with a balance of flower shapes, textures and heights.

When choosing your annuals, keep in mind the height to which the plant will grow. Low-growing plants should be kept towards the edges of the bed to avoid being obscured by taller plants. Graduate plants so all will be seen easily. Using a berm or mounded soil can help create interest and elevations for your plants. It helps to draw out your design on paper first.

Consider texture and shape when choosing plants for your annual bed. Spiky stems or stately grasses contrasted with lacy, low growing foliage provide a pleasing, dramatic effect. Nodding, ruffled flowers coupled with elegant, tubular-shaped ones add interest and movement to your annuals bed.

Also be sure to choose annuals that will grow in the site you've selected. Although most annuals like full sun, some need partial shade to survive our environment. Some require soil that drains well, while others like it always moist. Cool-season annuals are hardy and flower best in our high elevation where nights are cool.

You also might want to consider a specialty annual garden, such as one planted all in shades of white or cream that will glow at night time. Or, an aroma garden planted with scented annuals such as Alyssum maritimum (Sweet Alyssum), Heliotropium peruvianum, Verbena erinoides or Iberis coronaria (Candytuft).

Cultivate your creativity this year and plant an annuals bed.

Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or log onto


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