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Cardoon

Cynara cardunculus

Few annuals are bolder or make more of a statement than cardoon. It's the essence of exotic. This stately plant can reach 5 feet tall and bears toothed, thistlelike silvery leaves. The blooms, which look like silvery-violet artichokes, take a backseat to the plant's impressive foliage display.

Start indoors from seed or start from seed directly in the ground after all danger of frost is passed. Keep amply watered but do not overwater. Though it's perennial in Zones 7-9, it's usually grown as an annual. Cardoon reseeds freely.

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Light:

Sun

Type:

Height:

From 1 to 8 feet

Width:

3-5 feet wide

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Problem Solvers:

Zones:

7-9

how to grow Cardoon

plant Cardoon with

Spider Flower
It's amazing that the tall, dramatic spider flower is only an annual. Once temperatures warm up, it zooms to 4 feet or more plants very quickly and produces large balls of flowers with fascinating long seedpods that whirl out from it. Cut it for vases, but be aware that the flowers shatter easily after a few days. It typically self-seeds prolifically, so you only have to plant it once. Because it develops surprisingly large thorns, it's best to keep spider flower away from walkways.Plant established seedlings in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cleome does best in moderately rich, well-drained soil. Be careful about fertilizing or you'll have extremely tall floppy plants. Group in clusters of 6 or more for best effect.
Cosmos
You can depend on this cottage-garden favorite to fill your garden with color all season long. The simple, daisylike flowers appear in cheery shades on tall stems that are great for cutting. The lacy foliage makes a great backdrop for shorter plants, as well. Cosmos often self-seeds in the garden, so you may only have to plant it once, though the colors can appear muddy or odd in the reseeders.Plant cosmos from seed directly in the ground in spring. Or start from established seedlings. This flower doesn't like fertilizing or conditions that are too rich, which causes the foliage to be large and lush but with fewer blooms. It does best with average moisture but will tolerate drought.
Mexican sunflower
Attract butterflies and have fun doing it with big, bold, beautiful Mexican sunflower. Plant it from seed directly in the ground and watch it soar. It can hit up to 5 feet in just weeks with big, lush foliage and smaller but still showy flowers in sunset colors that butterflies love.Put a cluster of these bodacious beauties in the back of the border to give it height and drama. Many of the taller types need staking to keep them upright. Plant them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in a sunny spot with well-drained soil.
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