Now all annuals are not the same or interchangeable. Some do better in early spring or summer or even fall. In places like southern California, you can plant cool weather annuals in the fall and they will do well until the summer heat takes them out.
In places with the traditional 4 seasons, cool weather annuals can help you get a jump on having something beautiful in your garden in early spring. What is early spring? Deep hard freezing temps are over but the trees haven’t leafed out yet. You might even see temps drop a few degrees below freezing for a few hours at night but, the ground isn’t frozen. It also can drop a few inches snow on the ground but melt it will off in a day.
My favorite “git’r done” cool weather annual is the “Johnny Jump-ups”. You might think it’s a Pansy but, its not. It’s really a Viola Tricolor which is one of the three Violas which was used to hybridize “the modern garden Pansy” (V. × wittrockiana).
Technically, a viola is flowering plant in the Violet family Violaceae. It is the largest genus in the family, containing between 525 and 600 species, with many annuals and perennials but, also some shrubs.
Most garden center and nurseries sell Johnny Jump-ups as Violas or Tricolor Violas, taking the easy way out because naming Violas and Violets and Pansies can get confusing. Johnny Jump-ups/Viola Tricolor blooms are about dime size. You can also find a slightly larger single color “Viola” about the size of a nickel. Pansy’s blooms can get as large as a silver dollar or more. Another reason I plant Johnny Jump-ups is because their little heads bounce back better from surprise snow storms.
Also, they last better when it heats up. I often transplant them out of containers into the garden when I add my summer annuals to the containers. Most of the Jump-ups survive the transplanting if they are planted where they get some afternoon shade. They also can reseed easily in the right conditions. They are one of the plants my hubby finds “out of the boundaries” and wants treat them as a weeds. I make sure to take time and move the precious babies somewhere safe. I love when they are thriving in the cracks of the sidewalks or even a niche in the wall.
Johnny Jump-ups bloom their little heads off and if you deadhead them regularly they just keep blooming. They come in an almost endless variety of colors from white to blue and purple to orange, yellow and red. Getting to play with different color combinations, their hardiness and prolific blooming makes them one of my favorite for containers flowers.
For you “foodies”; Pansies and Violas are edible. Add the flowers to your favorite salad for a stunning visual effect or take your cupcakes to the next level, by adding sugared flowers to the decorations.
best way to buy
They grow quickly, so buy them small in pony packs of 6 or 8 as cheap as you can. When buying them in a value pack they will triple in size in a few weeks. I try to pay no more than 30-50 cents a plant. One of my favorite varieties is the King Henry. The “King” has a little yellow in the center radiating out with blue to a dark rich purple. They look fantastic with yellow Daffodils that come up this time of year. Yes, a little color theory here, yellow and purple are contrasting colors, so together they make a show stopping display at the front door. Plant a few Daffodils in the fall and with few colorful containers, even a newbie can look like a master gardener in the early spring.
Other cool weather annuals
(after most of the snow storms are done)
Sweet Alyssum (smell like honey)
Sweet peas (plant seeds as soon as the thaws)
and here’s some other gardening posts:
here’s some posts with gardening ideas
It’s spring here everybody! The sun is shining and will go down at 8:45 pm. Do something nutty and breathe in some fresh air!