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Great Annuals For Summer Beds

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

While the container craze may be getting all the attention, it is still worthwhile to plant annuals in the ground – especially ones that are bred to take the summer heat, extending their glory into fall. An economical strategy is to create pops of color in front of perennials and shrubs. Or you can really make a statement by filling a larger bed or border with one vibrant color, like a living highlighter!

Based in Japan, one of Suntory’s specialties is heat- and weather-tolerant varieties that will go the distance for three seasons – spring, summer and fall. In most of the country, these summer annuals look great, May through October.

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Here are four recommendations for full-sun, sizzling summer beds:

Sun Parasol Mandevillas/Dipladenias

The compact dipladenia bush varieties perform very well in garden beds – no trellis required. In the Sun Parasol line, these include Sun Parasol Original and Sun Parasol Garden varieties, which are versatile to treat as a summer bedding plant. We’ve had the opportunity to participate in some fabulous landscape demonstrations.

One of my favorite plantings last summer was Sun Parasol Original Cream Pink at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Nine years ago, we supplied a thousand gallons of Sun Parasol Garden Crimson to Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky, to match its signature red wax motif. The bed above was planted in May and still blazing in mid-October!

Another fun project was sponsoring an Ultimate Beach House in Rosemary Beach, Florida. The beds had a mix of Sun Parasol Original varieties plus larger planters with classic trellised Sun Parasol Giant Mandevillas.

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We also spotted Sun Parasol Apricot, above, tucked into a bed encircling a fountain at Longwood Gardens. This one is better mixed with other plants than alone in a bed. The zinnias are providing support.

Success tip: Do not overwater mandevillas. They don’t like wet feet and are forgiving if you go away for a weekend or forget to water. Plant in full sun for maximum blooms.

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Soiree Catharanthus/Vincas

Suntory Flowers has expanded the vinca category with exciting new colors and forms. Soiree Kawaii varieties are loaded with cute mini flowers that create tidy mounds of color. The word “kawaii” means cute in Japanese. Several Soiree Kawaii varieties have also demonstrated resistance to phytophthora, a common problem plaguing traditional vincas. By far, the super stars in the assortment of eight colors are White Peppermint, Coral, and Coral Reef.

Dallas Arboretum planted hundreds of Soiree Kawaii White Peppermint against a formal garden hedge along a main walkway.

Longwood Gardens lined a main promenade, above, with Soiree Kawaii Coral Reef last summer.

At home, Soiree Kawaii creates a concentrated colorful border around perennials and shrubs.

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Soiree Double catharanthus have a completely different flower that doesn’t look like a vinca at all. These plants are more vigorous than Soiree Kawaii, creating a fuller mound of color. It looked spectacular last summer at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Success tip: Don’t plant vincas in cool weather. It’s worth it to wait until it’s warmer for the best start.

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Surdiva Scaevolas

The Surdiva series of fan flowers spans a wide color range, from deep Blue Violet to lighter blue, pink and white. Our landscape champion is Surdiva White Improved. Every year, it achieves the top score in summer trial gardens. Surdiva varieties have a more controlled growth habit.

Surdiva White Improved was paired with blue salvia and red petunias at the Cincinnati Zoo, above.

Success tip: Just like with the vincas, scaevolas also prefer warmer weather. They will be slow to grow when it’s cool.

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Granvia Bracteanthas

Our Granvia super strawflowers are very weather tolerant and mildew resistant. Compared to a standard bedding plant type, these have a much larger plant and flower. This larger, more open habit allows better air circulation in the foliage. Granvia Gold is by far the superstar in all the garden trials each summer. Five additional colors are available in white, orange, pink and red. They make a stunning landscape focal point. As a bonus, you can harvest the dried flowers for festive crafts!

Success tip: Give the plants plenty of room to grow, especially in container plantings – the more soil, the better.

For more information about Suntory Flowers, visit

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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