(HIT) – Flowers bring life to a garden. Fortunately, exciting new flowering annuals and tropicals abound this year, thanks to the dedicated effort of breeders throughout the US and Europe. The bright, colorful blooms of annuals and tropicals make a delightful addition to any garden, patio or balcony, and make the warm spring and summer months all the more enjoyable.

Among the new varieties of flowers this year are a new show-stopping variety of sunflower, a flower seed mix that will turn any garden into a butterfly haven, a stunning scarlet mandevilla, and even a hibiscus with flowers that change color.

With so many great options to choose from, a gardener’s hardest task will be deciding which of these new flowering plants to bring home. Once you do, enjoy being one of the first to grow a new variety. You never know – one of these annuals and tropicals could be a new garden favorite that you’ll grow for years to come.


Hibiscus ‘Voodoo Queen’ flowers actually change color

Image of Hibiscus Voodoo Queen flowers
Photo courtesy of Logee’s

Hibiscus plants are among the most popular tropical flowering plants in sunrooms and gardens because of their vibrantly colored blossoms and vigorous evergreen foliage. Now there’s a new hybrid Hibiscus variety that features flowers that actually change color from morning to afternoon.

Hibiscus ‘Voodoo Queen’ (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Voodoo Queen’) blooms with large flowers that are 7 to 8 inches in diameter. In the morning, the blooms open with pink petals highlighted with violet centers and a burgundy heart. Then, just like magic, by afternoon the flowers change color to yellow petals with gray-lavender centers and a strawberry-tined heart.

Image of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Voodoo Queen&rsquo
Photo courtesy of Logee’s

Same flowers, but two completely different looks depending on what time of the day it is. Not only is ‘Voodoo Queen’ a spectacular addition to any tropical plant collection or tropical-themed garden, but it’s like adding two plants in one. When grown outside, the showy flowers attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

Hibiscus plants perform best in full sun with plenty of water and generous fertilizer to maximize their blooming potential. ‘Voodoo Queen’ is cold hardy to USDA Zone 10, so it is often grown as a container plant in a sunroom or on a sunny patio. Bring it inside when the nighttime temperatures drop to the low 50s. Hibiscus ‘Voodoo Queen’ is available in a 4-inch pot for $19.95 from Logee’s, (888) 330-8038 or www.logees.com. Since 1892, Logee’s has been America’s premier source for fruiting, rare and tropical plants.


New ‘Superted’ Sunflower is packed with petals

For many years gardeners and cut-flower lovers have admired a dwarf sunflower called Teddy Bear with big double yellow blooms, as well as its cousin Sungold. Now there’s Superted, a full-sized, majestic sunflower with the same beautiful 3½-inch blooms just packed with petals.

Superted originated in Europe, where it has been hailed as a sensational cut-flower. The blooms are extra-thick and packed with short, bright yellow petals. The flower can be cut as soon as it opens and placed in a vase for a week of magnificent color. Or let the blooms go to seed and watch birds flock to these tall, sturdy stalks to feast on the seeds in autumn.

Image of a Superted Sunflower
Photo courtesy of Park Seed

Superted Sunflower reaches just over 5 feet tall in a sunny garden, where it becomes a tower of radiant light when in bloom and a sturdy architectural feature all season long. Superted is earlier to bloom than many sunflowers, opening its flowers a full three weeks ahead of other varieties such as Double Shine. Sunflower is the fourth sister of the Native American Three Sisters Planting, a symbiotic arrangement in which tall plants (the corn and sunflower) provide a climbing structure and a bit of shade for the vertical vine (the bean), while the horizontal vine (the squash) covers ground, helping preserve soil moisture and keep away weeds.

Direct-sow sunflower seeds when the soil is thoroughly warm in spring. Sunflowers bloom facing the sun, so they will all be turned in the same direction in the garden. For a full summer of glorious Superted blooms, sow the seeds every 2 weeks from spring into summer. A packet of seeds sells for $4.95 from Park Seed, www.parkseed.com, 800-845-3369.


Mandevilla ‘Sun Parasol Red Emperor’

Image of a lovely range of flower colors
Photo courtesy of Suntory Flowers®

Looking for gorgeous, care-free color all summer long? Red Emperor is the latest addition to the Sun Parasol Giant group of mandevillas bred by Suntory Flowers. As an upgrade to Giant Crimson, Red Emperor offers superior garden performance and disease resistance, producing more striking large red flowers. Gorgeous trained to a trellis or obelisk in patio containers, vining Red Emperor reaches a height and spread of 10-15 feet. As a tropical plant, it is hardy to Zones 9-10. Sun Parasol Red Emperor thrives in heat and humidity, and it loves sunny exposures.

For show-stopping color all season, plant Sun Parasol mandevillas in your landscape, container gardens or window boxes. There are nearly 20 varieties to choose from in shades of red, pink and white. Find Sun Parasol Red Emperor and other Sun Parasol mandevillas at your favorite garden retailer or purchase directly at www.bigbadflower.com. For more information, visit www.sunparasol.net.


Bring Home the Butterflies Flower Mix

Image of a lovely range of flower colors
Photo courtesy of Botanical Interest

Let gorgeous butterflies decorate your garden with color and motion. Bring Home the Butterflies Flower Mix from Botanical Interests provides both nectar plants to attract adult butterflies and host plants for their caterpillars. You’ll enjoy a lovely range of flower colors, heights, and bloom times in your garden.

This brightly-colored mix includes annuals, biennials and perennials. The mix contains by weight: 30% Mexican Lupine, 7% each Mexican Sunflower, Calendula, Cosmos, 6% Balsam Camellia, and 5% or less each Purple Coneflower, Pincushion Flower, Borage, Sunset Flower, Parsley, Cornflower, Crimson Clover, Blazing Star, Lance-leaved Coreopsis, Prairie Gayfeather, Sweet Sultan, Sweet William, Rainbow Aster Mix, Black-Eyed Susan, Common Dill, Snapdragon, Yarrow, Sneezeweed, Bishop’s Flower, Lemon Mint, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Tall Verbena. Sown at a rate of 25 seeds per square foot, the small packet variety, which sells for about $2.69, covers approximately 45 square feet. Perfect for flowerbeds around trees or yard borders. Available at your local garden center or online at www.botanicalinterests.com.

Courtesy: Home Improvement News and Information Center