Aggressive Annuals

Verbena bonariensis image courtesy of Wikipedia

Volunteers, or self-seeders, can be a welcome addition to the summer garden; but, sometimes, we just want a particular annual for one season. If that’s the case, here is my short list of unusually persistent annuals that you may want to limit to patio pots rather than incorporating them into your garden border:

  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Lobelia siphilitica (Great Blue Lobelia)
  • Nicotiana alata (Flowering Tobacco)

Each of these is easy to grow from seed once the soil has warmed up, and each has an uncanny ability to survive for 3-4 years until popping up again as a seedling in the most unexpected places. If you’re trying to establish a wildflower meadow with reliable re-seeders, these are the plants for you. Otherwise, be aware that these seeds can travel long distances on a windy day.

If you have had experience with any aggressive annuals other than these three, feel free to comment.

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4 Responses to Aggressive Annuals

  1. HT says:

    Didn’t realize that Great blue lobelia was an agressive annual, mainly because they have never come back for me. I’ve had sweet white alyssum come back sporadically, through self seeding, but that’s it. Most of my experience with self seeding has been with perennials, such as echinicea and various forms of the rudeckia genre – probably due to the birds that eat the seeds then defecate in various spots.
    Once again, thanks for this blog. It’s such a delight to read.
    BTW, I have multiple appearences of blue in the garden – blue asters, lavender, blue clover, purple clematis (three varieties), and the bees love them – not talking about wasps or hornets, but honeybees. Last year I had given up on honeybees, because I didn’t see any, and with the problems I thought I’d never see another. This year, well, they may be coming back – I hope they are.

    • grayslady says:

      I’ve never tried sweet alyssum. It’s very pretty. Great edging plant. I’ve had the odd snapdragon re-appear, but always where I didn’t want it. Birds are excellent at distributing seeds. Another perennial that will self-seed is Liatris; fortunately, it’s fairly narrow so it can tuck itself into available openings and look quite attractive as a volunteer.

      According to a friend of mine who buys honey at the local farmers market, the honey bees are still suffering large losses from Colony Collapse Disorder and no solution has been found yet. I do have the random honeybee or two, but mostly bumblebees. Still, I’m always thankful for the few honeybees that come around.

      • HT says:

        Well, was out weeding this morning, and counted 20 honeybees – I was so excited. They are beautiful in a very subdued manner, but the excitement was because I haven’t seen them for a few years. Years ago, we had a honey farmer (apiarist) close by so we always had them visiting, but with the agressive build up of suburban housing and the hive colony collapse phenomenum, he sold out, and for the last few years, haven’t seen more than one or two. Imagine my glee when 20 turned up on the same day! Dancing in the street. I just hope it lasts! On a sad note, I haven’t seen any blue jays, yet I plant all the flowers that they like and I toss out peanuts regularly, nor have I seen more than one Monarch butterfly, although we used to have flocks of them. We also have an invasion of red squirrels, so our buddies – the black squirrels, which are unique to our area, are disappearing – Red squirrels, nasty little rodents, black squirrels, placid lovely and graceful animals. Sigh.

        • grayslady says:

          No blue jays where I live, but I’ve noticed they seem to prefer mature suburbs with lots of large, older trees or else forested areas (I do see the occasional jay in the nearby state park). Monarch numbers are way down here, too.

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