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Bachelor's button is a sweet little flower, reseeding freely here and there in your garden, adding a bright touch of true, clear blue wherever it chooses to sprout. This easy-growing annual produces papery flowers atop tall stems; the blooms are great for cutting and drying.
The plant is happiest in sandy loam. It doesn't need much, if any fertilizer, and tolerates drought, but prefers moderate moisture. Plant from seed directly in the garden after the last frost in your region. Space to 6-12 inches apart. Deadhead after the first flush of bloom to encourage a second flush. But if you want lots of reseeding next year, allow some flowers at some point to ripen on the plant and go to seed.
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Centaurea cyanus offers pretty blue flowers on 3-foot-tall plants with silvery-green foliage.
'Black Ball' bachelor's button
Centaurea cyanus 'Black Ball' has purple-black flowers and grows 3 feet tall.
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Globe amaranth is an all-time flower-gardening favorite. It seems to have it all -- it thrives in hot conditions, it blooms nearly nonstop, the interesting pom-pom flowers are great for cutting and drying, and it attracts butterflies. Plant globe amaranth and then step back to watch it thrive and add continual beauty until frost. It's great in beds, borders, and containers.Plant established seedlings outdoors in spring after all danger of frost has passed. It tolerates a variety of soils and moisture levels. It isn't fussy about fertilizer, but be careful not to overfertilize.
There are few gardens that don't have at least one salvia growing in them. Whether you have sun or shade, a dry garden or lots of rainfall, there's an annual salvia that you'll find indispensable. All attract hummingbirds, especially the red ones, and are great picks for hot, dry sites where you want tons of color all season. Most salvias don't like cool weather, so plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around.Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color.Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often will be muddy looking. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.Shown above: 'Rocket Red' snapdragon