NCROC's Top 10 Annual Flowers of 2021

Annual flower trials are hosted at the North Central Research and Outreach Center. This research is an extension of the flower trials occurring at the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, MN. Companies such as All-America Selections, Proven Winners, Syngenta, and many others trial their flower varieties here at the NCROC in the field, in hanging baskets, and containers. During flower evaluations we grade the plants based on criteria such as color, uniformity, uniqueness, plant health, hardiness in zone 3, and insect/disease resistance.

Top 10 Annual Flowers

Coleus ColorBlaze® El Brighto

Coleus ColorBlaze El Brighto in a pot

This Top 10 winner wasn’t chosen for its flowers but its stunning foliage. The Coleus’s toothed leaf margins give this plant a fun ruffled look. Combine that with edgy, bright colors and it’s an exciting addition to beds, borders, or containers. This variety can handle some sun but produces the best color in partial shade.

Gomphrena Truffula™ Pink

Gomphrena Truffula Pink in a field

The Truffula Pink is the plant that keeps on giving even during the difficult climate conditions we experienced in Zone3 this year. It tolerated the heat and continued to produce a bright coverage of pink color. The tough stems never drooped, which helped it keep a nice compact habit all season.

Rudbeckia Kokardia, yellow w. brown ring

Rudbeckia Kokardia, yellow w. brown ring

Rudbeckia, sometimes known as black-eyed-susans, were popular this year with both the bumblebees and the evaluators. The Kokardia variety made the grade due to its masses of large bicolor blooms and its uniform plant shape. The mahogany-colored ring near the flower center really sets off the yellow on these blooms.

Angelonia Angelface® Cascade Blue

Angelonia Angelface® Cascade Blue in a pot

The thick growth of glossy foliage with rich purple blooms made this Angelonia stand out. The showy spears of violet flowers look terrific in both the garden and hanging baskets and required very little maintenance. 

Petunia Supertunia Vista® Jazzberry

Petunia Supertunia Vista® Jazzberry

This Petunia has a pleasing mounded shape that almost takes care of itself. The flowers provide a vivid pop of pink with a dark center that accentuates both their shape and color. The pale green foliage makes a nice backdrop when you can see it through the abundant blooms that deliver a consistent display all season.

 Petunia Supertunia® Sharon

Petunia Supertunia® Sharon

With a fun twist of pink and white stripes these double Petunias provided a lovely spill of color in the hanging basket. This variety put on some brisk growth early in the summer to create a slightly mounded habit and long-lasting blooms. Minimal maintenance was required for it to keep its pleasing shape all season long. 

Celosia Asian Garden

Celosia Asian Garden

This showy variety of Celosia held up wonderfully under this year’s summer heat. Strong stems formed a bushy habit with nice uniformity and vigorous growth. The spikey flowers provided continuous color with an ombré of pinks. This variety is especially popular with the pollinators.

Cleome Sparkler™ Blush

Cleome Sparkler™ Blush

If you’re looking to increase the drama of your garden this is the annual to pick! Loosely clustered petals form a delicate ball while long stamens and spikey foliage hide a spine at the base of each leaf. The fascinating shape of this variety draws the eye, whether it’s in the landscape or in large containers.

Coleus ColorBlaze® Torchlight™

Coleus ColorBlaze® Torchlight™ in a pot

Torchlight will tolerate full sun but gives its best performance with partial shade. Deep burgundy leaves with a heart of hot pink and vibrant green edges really spice up those dappled shady spots in the garden. The stems are fragile, but this variety is easy to grow and maintain with a big payoff in color. 

Salvia farinacea Victoria™ Blue

Salvia farinacea Victoria™ Blue

This warm weather annual lends the garden a delightful vertical accent with its masses of flowering spikes. The lush foliage of narrow bright green leaves is the perfect foundation for the deep blue color of the flowers. They tolerate poor soil and hold up well in the heat, producing blooms from late spring into the fall.