Tips for planting Summer annuals with Hershey Gardens

Dragon Wing Begonia

Summer annuals can add beautiful pops of color and variety to your gardens. On Good Day PA, Hershey Gardens’ Horticulture Coordinator Brooke Umberger showcased different varieties of annuals and also presented “foliar feeding” as a way to care for your flowers.

Varieties of summer annuals:

Purple Angelonia
Purple Angelonia

Angelonia (“Summer Snapdragons”) are considered tender perennials that are grown in PA as annuals. They are about 18″-24″ tall and the same in spread. Bloom colors are: blue, purple, white, pink and bi-colors. Angelonia prefer full sun to light shade and should be watered regularly. While they prefer moist soil, they can tolerate brief dry spells. These flowers bloom all summer in hot, sunny spaces and are heat and humidity tolerant. They are fragrant which is great for attracting butterflies and other pollinators to your yard.

Senecio (“Dusty Miller”) grow to a height of 18″-24″ and is known for its leafy silver/white foliage and does flower rarely in fall with small yellow flowers. It prefers full sun to full shade and has average watering needs. While Senecio does not attract any pollinators, it is a great choice for a sensory garden and is deer-tolerant. This is great for use on borders because they make any flower color pop.

Dragon Wing Begonia
Dragon Wing Begonia

Begonias (“Dragon Wing Begonia”) grow to a height of 12″-18″ with blooms in red, and pink. It does well in full sun to full shade and has average watering needs. Begonias needs more frequent watering if in containers/hanging baskets. This plant can survive shade, drought and slight frost.

Catharanthus (“Vinca/Periwinkle”) grow to a height of 6″-24″ X 6″-18″ in spread with pink, purple, white, peach or red flowers that look like tiny parasols. Plant these in full sun to part shade and expect to find average watering needs. They are drought tolerant so they can deal with some dry soil. Catharanthus attracts butterflies and moths but can also self-pollinate themselves.

Summer Salvia is available in three types and the texture and foliage look so different in your garden.

Salvia coccinea (“Scarlet Sage or Texas Sage”) has a finer texture and reaches 24″-36″ in height with about a 24″ spread. It is usually a vibrant red color but there are also select few pink and white cultivars with leaves that are triangular in shape. It is best in full sun but can tolerate part shade with average watering needs. This is a drought tolerant plant that is very fragrant and great for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds and bees to your yard.

Salvia, Summer Sage
Salvia, Summer Sage

Salvia splendens (“Scarlet Sage”) has bolder, larger flowers and foliage with a height of 12″-24″ X 12″-24″ in spread with red, blue, white and purple blooms. Flowers have a straight lower lip and curved upper lip and leaves can be light to dark shades of green and are toothed and elliptical in shape. Plant this is full sun-part shade and expect average watering needs. Salvia is tolerant of some drought and clay soils and this variety attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and is deer and rabbit tolerant.

Salvia farinacea (“Mealycup Sage/Blue Sage”) grows to a height of 12″-24″ and has about 24″-36″ in spread. Its spikes come in shades of violet, blue or white with leaves that are long and toothed, usually a light green in color with a silver underside. It enjoys full sun to part shade with average watering needs and is also drought tolerant.


Tips for Foliar feeding
· Nutrients are taken in through the leaves to the rest of the plant.
· Use watering can with solution of water and fertilizer (found at your garden center. Always read instructions for making fertilizer.)
· Sprinkle solution over the leaves and flowers.
· Fertilize one or twice a week.
· You can over fertilize – indicated by burnt or yellow foliage.

For information on upcoming Hershey Gardens events including free Mother’s Day admission, the opening of the Butterfly House, ArtCycle and “Take Home Your Masterpiece,” please visit:

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