By Bev Johnson, Otter Tail County Master Gardner

If you love Calibrachoa, the flowers that look like little petunias, you’ll be over the moon with this year’s selections. The Million Bells Cabaret line has one called Good Night Kiss. This is very dark, bright pink with a white ray center. Another is from the Minifamous line, Neo Double Orangetastic”. This is a double with orange petals with a wide yellow edge. The nice thing about these plants that, unlike petunias, they are self cleaning so they stay neat and tidy all summer. These are pot plants specially designed for hanging baskets. The singles attract humming birds, especially the red colored blooms. To keep them at their best, fertilize every 2 weeks.

If you like petunias, the newest one is called Midnight Gold. This is a basket plant with huge double flowers of dark purple edged in yellow. Another is Lavender Sky-Blue, one of the Easy Wave series. They bloom all season and tolerate both heat and cooler weather. This series is a little more mounded than the Waves. The color of this one will be darker in cool temps and lower light. She is 5 to 7 inches tall and up to 4 feet wide.  For best blooming, keep them moist and fertilize every 2 weeks. Petunias are a full sun plant.

The Galaxy series of zonal geraniums produce mounded plants that keep their large semi-double blooms all summer. They look great all by them- selves in a large pot. They come in dark red, red, watermelon, pink purple, salmon, white and violet. They are 16 to 20 inches tall and are great for a spot that gets dry. That doesn’t mean not to water them but they will tolerate a dryer area.

An impatient that is resistant to downy mildew is every shade gardener’s dream. Well, dream no more. Panamerican seed company has one called Beacon. It comes in 6 colors and 2 mixes. They say that this series is reliable, fast filling, and adds season long color to shade gardens or hanging pots. Sales of these plants support the OI’ foundation for brittle bone disease

For a bright accent on the edge of the garden or in a pot, you might want to look at Concertina Cockscomb. You can start these at home. All they need is good starting mix, warmth, sunlight and good drainage. The plant is only 8 to 10 inches tall and 8 inches wide.  The blooms are bright colors and the flower looks like you squished a bigger flower into a ball, all curly and round. The word cute comes to mind.

For a bright “thriller” in a large pot, how about a dahlia? The Venti series are about 16 to 18 inches tall and 14 to 16 inches wide. This is a uniform, vigorous series of double flowered blooms in a broad range of colors. They will keep blooming all season if you religiously deadhead them; they are great planted in the flowerbed too.  

There is no common name for Osteosperums. It’s that daisy like flower with the blue center. The Zion series has a new earth tone bloom. It is a soft peach with gold tips and a greenish center. Another new one is Zion Purple Sun. This may not be for everyone as it Is orange and purple.

Spring is coming, really! Look for these plants at your local nursery then. In the meantime, we can dream about the perfect garden. (It never happens).