The top 10

The one really great thing about being connected to the University of Minnesota is that we get to use so many of their research topics to our own advantage. This is certainly true with the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris when it comes to gardening. Steve Poppe and Ester Jordan put together a report of the Top Ten Performing Annual Flowers at the research center in 2016. According to their research, the annuals were evaluated on several categories including characteristics, performance, color and vigor. The great part of this research is that the growing conditions are very similar to what we have here in southwest Minnesota. For a complete list of all trial results, please go to

The annuals are listed alphabetically in the information that was put together. The first is Angelonia Angelface Super Pink. “This is a heat and drought tolerant plant that blooms all season long and has grape scented foliage. It is a low maintenance plant as well.” The next annual is Begonia Whopper Rose Bronze Foliage. As it name says, it is a “whopper” of a plant and “fills our garden beds and large containers.” It has extra-large pink flowers against bronze foliage. The next winner is Coleus French Quarter which is a coleus that can be grown in either sun or shade. Impatiens Interspecific Bounce Bright Coral also can be grown in either shade or sun. It has an added benefit of being resistant to downy mildew disease.

Another Impatiens, SunPatiens Spreading Shell Pink, also will do fine in both shade and sun. It is a spreading impatiens, which is also resistant to downy mildew disease. This is a beautiful shade of bright pink against dark leaves. Petunia African Sunset F1 is an orange flower which is a prolific number of blooms throughout the growing season. Petunia Supertunia Vista Fuchsia (Imp) that does not need deadheading. The flower had a mounding habit that can reach up to 1-1/2 feet in height.

As we round out the list of flowers, we need to include Vinca Solar Avalance Red, which is a compact trailing plant which works well in pots and containers. This little gem performs well in hot and humid conditions. There are two Zinnias in the collection this year. Zinnias are one of my favorite plants to grow. The two that did well in Morris are Zinnia Solmar Rose and Zinnia Zahara XL Fire Improved. I think that the new Petunia previously mentioned matched along with Zinnia Zahara would look great in a flower border. Zinnia Zahara has a wonderful orange/red color.

There were, of course, some honorable mentions. These include: Argyanthemum Grandessa Pink Halo and White Butterfly, Begonia Topspin Rose and Megawatt Rose Green Leaf, Calibrachoa Superbells Coralina, Yellow and Lemon Yellow, Canna Toucan Scarlet, Geranium Pinto, Impatiens Interspecific Bounce Violet, Marigold Taishan God, Ornamental Pepper Sedona Sun, Petunia Radiance Lilac, Tidal Wave Red Velour, Supertunia Vista Bubblegum, Damask White, Rudbeckia TigerEye Gold, Verbena EnduraScape Pink, Superbena Royale Red, Zinnia Profusion Double Deep Salmon and Zinnia Profusion Double Hot Cherry.

Wow! What a list! So, as we start to leaf through our garden catalogs looking for these little beauties, remember that all of this was brought to you by the U of M research folks at Morris. For more information on gardening, you can reach me at