Best New Flowers

By Charlie Nardozzi

Every spring, garden centers are filled with new varieties of brightly colored annual flowers. Here are some of the best new choices available for planting this year.

'Zowie! Yellow Flame' zinnia features bright scarlet-colored centers with yellow petals on 2-foot-tall plants. The 3- to 4-inch-wide flowers are supported on sturdy stems, making 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' a great cut flower.

For an annual with more subtle color, consider diascia 'Diamonte Coral Rose'. Diascia are small-flowered, frost-tolerant annuals that look best in containers and hanging baskets. 'Diamonte Coral Rose' is an improved variety that blooms longer and is more vigorous. Diascia are beautiful with other cool-season annuals, such as snapdragons and dianthus, yet they also tolerate summer heat.

'Purple Majesty' ornamental millet made waves a few years ago with its unique black foliage and seed stalk. A new version of 'Purple Majesty' is 'Jester' (Pennisetum glaucum 'Jester'). 'Jester' features bright chartreuse leaves in spring that mature to a red and bronze color by summer. Its growth is more dense and compact than 'Purple Majesty'. The purple flower stalks emerge a few weeks later than 'Purple Majesty' and only reach 3 feet tall.

Another colorful ornamental grain is quinoa 'Brightest Brilliant Rainbow'. This grain grows only 2 feet tall, producing flower heads in a rainbow of colors, such as yellow, orange, red, hot pink, and even green. Although it produces an edible grain, quinoa 'Brightest Brilliant Rainbow' is mostly grown as a cut flower.

For more information on 'Zowie! Yellow Flame' zinnia, 'Diamonte Coral Rose' diascia, and 'Jester' ornamental millet, go to: Park Seed.

For more information on 'Brightest Brilliant Rainbow' quinoa, go to: Botanical Interests.

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