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Brandon Rushing


It’s Never Too Early To Think About Summer Annuals

These are the best annuals for Northern Virginia…

One of the best things about spring is looking forward all the colorful annuals. And if you were to ask me which are the best summer annuals for Northern Virginia, I have just two words for you — begonias and vinca!

As a professed plant-lover, I can’t help but love them all, but these two hold a special place in my heart — and in my clients’ gardens. Read on to discover why you should consider planting some of these beauties in your own garden this summer. 


There are many different types of begonias, but the ones you’re probably most familiar with are semperflorens varieties, also called wax, annual, or bedding begonias.

Because they’re actually a tropical plant, begonias are perennials in warmer climates. But here in Northern Virginia, they’re considered annuals, since the winter temperatures are too cold for them (sometimes too cold for us, too!).

We typically use these shade-lovers to add color and interest to shady gardens, although most can tolerate a fair amount of morning sun. Begonias with bronze-colored leaves can actually tolerate full sun, but the leaves will turn a reddish color.

Here are a few quick facts about wax begonias:

  • They produce small, single or double flowers in shades of red, pink and white
  • Bloom continuously from early spring until frost
  • Height and spread is between 6 and 12 inches
  • Have a mounded growth habit and look spectacular in mass plantings
  • Easy to care for plant that prefers to be kept on the drier side (so avoid over-watering)
  • They’re “self-cleaning” so you don’t need to deadhead to encourage new blooms

Tuberous begonias are also worth considering, and they come in two forms: upright and trailing. They have large, gorgeous blooms that come in a surprising range of colors — white, pink, yellow, orange and various shades of red. These are typically grown in containers.

Annual Vinca (Madagascar periwinkle)

Vinca ( Catharanthus roseus) is a delightful little plant that is similar in appearance to impatiens but thrives in full sun. Like begonias, vinca is also a tropical plant that is grown as an annual in cooler climates.

Here’s the low-down on vinca:

  • Colors range from soft pastels to vibrant and “fruity” shades, like grape, blackberry, apricot, cherry red, and tangerine
  • Enjoy blooms from early summer to frost
  • The upright variety make a colorful statement in mass plantings
  • Trailing vinca are spectacular in containers or spilling over a rock wall
  • Upright vinca grows 6-12 inches high
  • Heat and drought tolerant
  • “Self-cleaning”, so no need to deadhead 
  • Very attractive to butterflies, but resistant to rabbits, pests and disease

Pruning of annual plants is generally unnecessary, but if you want a fuller, bushier appearance you can pinch them back (remove the main stem at the tip, forcing the plant to grow two new stems from the leaf nodes below the pinch or cut).

Note: don’t confuse these with vinca minor (common periwinkle)or vinca major (greater periwinkle) These are both groundcovers that, although beautiful, can be invasive.

Often less is more…

When planning which annuals to plant in your garden, try not to be tempted by the wide variety of plants you’ll see in your local garden center. 

If you’re looking to create harmony in your garden it’s best to keep it simple, using just one or two varieties in a similar color family — and of all the annuals to choose from, begonias and vinca are two low-maintenance plants that pack the biggest punch!

If you’d like help planning and managing your gardens this summer, contact us for a free quote.

We’d love to help make your lawn and gardens the envy of the neighborhood!

Written by Brandon Rushing, Founder & President

Posted on: February 8th, 2022