2017 Top Ten Performing Annuals

Steve Poppe, Senior Horticulture Scientist

Esther Jordan, Communications Specialist

Calibrachoa Minifamous Neo Orange+Red Eye

Calibrachoa MiniFamous® Neo Orange+Red Eye

One of the largest and most impressive displays of annual flower varieties and cultivars in the Upper Midwest is located at the University of Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) Horticulture Display Garden in Morris, MN.   

The WCROC Horticulture Display Garden serves as an All-America Selections (AAS) Display Garden and Trial Grounds.  This Garden provides the public an opportunity to view the newest superior performers recognized by AAS.  Additionally, the Horticulture Display Garden is the only AAS Trial Ground site in Minnesota in which AAS entries are planted next to comparisons and evaluated by an AAS Trial Judge.

The Garden features impressive displays of the newest annual flower cultivars from plant breeding companies around the world.  Cultivars are grown from seed, or are vegetatively propagated in our greenhouse, and later transplanted into the Garden in late May. 

Plants are evaluated three to four times during the growing season in order to assess each variety’s performance.  The data is taken by the same individual each time to reduce variability in scoring.  We use a 1 to 5 scale for providing a horticultural rating (1=poor, 2=below average, 3=average, 4=above average, 5=excellent).  Plants are rated on performance, color, vigor, uniformity of habit and flowering, flowering numbers relative to others, insect and disease resistance, and uniqueness.  

Only the highest rating cultivars earn the distinction of a Top Ten Performing Annual for Minnesota.

2017 Top Ten

Argyranthemum Pure White Butterfly boasts attractive large daisy white flowers with a bright yellow eye.  Can be planted in full sun to part shade, deadheading is not necessary and grows to a height of 18”-24”.  This Argyranthemum, which grows evenly and uniformly in the garden, is also a great thriller in a container. 

Begonia Megawatt Rose Bronze Leaf

Begonia Megawatt™ Rose Bronze Leaf

Begonia Megawatt™ Rose Bronze Leaf offers striking, non-stop flowers which keep plants covered in excellent color throughout the summer with no deadheading.  Has sturdy flower stems that hold flowers above the lush foliage.  Perfect plant for landscapes, hanging baskets and big containers.

Calibrachoa MiniFamous® Neo Orange+Red Eye has attractive eye-catching single orange flowers with a dark red center with summer long performance.  This semi-trailing Calibrachoa grows evenly and uniformly in a large hanging basket. 

Coleus Main Street Michigan Avenue is a high impact vigorous coleus that held its variegated foliage color throughout the growing season.  Michigan Avenue was easy to grow, very uniform in growth and performs equally well in sun or shade.  It’s also a perfect complement to other plants in the landscape. 

New Guinea Impatiens SunStanding Purple has very bright purple flowers over glossy green and bronze foliage.  They thrived in our garden bed and were outstanding in a container.  SunStanding Purple is naturally compact and uniform and can be grown in the sun or shade. 


Petunia Surprise Blue Sky

Petunia Surprise Blue Sky is smothered in stunning royal blue flowers from early spring to early fall.  Its leaves remain green in color throughout the season. Grows to a height and spread of around 18”. 

Salvia Mystic Spires Improved is an impressive salvia that has been improved for better summer garden performance, with flowers holding longer for a brighter blue flower color in the garden.  The plants are sturdy.  Dark green leaves add a dramatic touch to the plants.  Mystic Spires Improved attracts bees and butterflies and is deer resistant.  

Vinca Cora® Cascade Violet is a compact spreading ground cover with eye-catching violet flowers and unbeatable glossy green foliage.  An ideal sun-loving plant for hanging baskets and landscape.  Vinca tend to like dry soil, so don’t over water.

Zinnia Magellan Orange

Zinnia Magellan™ Orange

Zinnia Magellan™ Orange is a very easy to grow zinnia that grows about 12-18” tall with large abundant fully double orange blooms all summer long.  Magellan Orange is a vigorous variety with good disease tolerance and is well suited to challenging weather conditions.  Occasional deadheading the old flowers will keep new buds coming, and you'll get even more color.

Zinnia Profusion Coral Pink is a compact bushy plant, 12 inches high and 15 inches wide, is simply smothered nonstop all season with cheerful, 2-inch daisy-formed blooms. The petals are bright coral pink with hints of orange and salmon.  Plant in large plantings for best effect.  For optimum performance, plant zinnias in a well-drained garden soil.

All flowers in the Horticulture Display Garden are labeled, allowing visitors to take note of top performing cultivars under regional conditions.  The Horticulture Display Garden is open daily from dawn until dusk; admission is free.  The Garden is located at 46352 State Hwy 329, Morris, MN.  Location and directions to the Horticulture Display Garden.