Annual Plants

Annual Plants

Annual plants are those plants that only last for one growing season in your geographical area. There is a wide range of that will bring a great deal of color and texture to any backyard landscape. Annuals flowers are easy to plant, relatively easy to maintain with regular waterings once all danger of frost has past, and grow rapidly into full-grown plants that you can enjoy all season long. They are the perfect plants for beginner flower gardening!

Annuals come in a wide range of colors and textures, and provide the “final touch” to any backyard landscape. In contrast to perennial plants, annuals will flower non-stop for the entire growing season. They are relatively easy to plant and easy to maintain depending on the type of plants that you select.

In other words, these show stoppers give a lot of BANG for their buck, and often produce oodles and oodles of flowers all season long!

A plant is considered an “annual” if it is unable to survive the region’s calendar year. In zone 5, for example, many cannot be placed outside until all danger of frost in spring has passed, and they will die back after the first frost of winter.

While a perennial plant will lose its top growth, the root system will go dormant and it will produce more growth the following spring. When annuals die back after the growing season, both their top growth and their root system have died, and they will not return the following year.

I plant annuals flowers next to my patio, in planters and in a window box outside my kitchen window to add variety and color to my yard. One of my favorites of the is the marigold. I think this is a long-time favorite of mine because it was my Grandma’s plant of choice for her glower garden design next to her patio. These annuals flowers are fun to plant, and filled out the space quickly and efficiently year after year.

Although I didn’t know it at the time, marigolds are known for their natural mosquito-repellant qualities. I’m sure this is the reason she planted them so close to the patio, and it is certainly the reason that I plant them next to my patio.
Marigolds are very easy to grow, and can be started from seed right in the ground. Learn how to plant flowers by preparing the soil as an important first step in the process. Once the soil is prepared, place the seeds at the recommended depth, and then water lightly until the plants emerge.

Even though these plants are only around for one season, they are a favorite among novice gardeners and seasoned professionals alike!

Annual plants add quick and sustained color to any garden bed. Look at how well these marigolds mix with the petunias and zinnia!

All of the should be watered regularly throughout the season to maintain their beauty. It is also wise to “deadhead” withered flowers to encourage new growth, and to fertilize regularly.

Annuals plants do a great job of decorating fences and lighting posts.

Before planting annuals flowers in your landscape, you may want to create a flower garden design that identifies which annuals to plant in that particular area. A flower garden design design will help keep you focused on the overall vision of the garden, and should help you identify the amount of plants you’ll need in that particular area. I have found that while I believe the ideas in my head are fairly decent (I think) having a concrete design helps keep me focused, and produces a better result in the end.

The one note of caution I would add here is to be selective about where you locate you garden. Flowers will attract bees, so placing a flower garden near a patio or play area may not be a good idea.

It’s a good idea to locate your garden in an area where you can enjoy it, like directly outside a window you frequently look out, but far enough away from where you “play” in your yard so that the bees do not disturb you.

Many are easy to work with, need little care beyond proper water, and display a substantial amount of growth in only one growing season, which gives a great deal of satisfaction to the gardener.

They can easily be planted in pots, window boxes, garden spaces, between perennials, and among bushes.

To be successful with the 3 most critical factors are:

  1. Light requirements
  2. Soil & water requirements
  3. Maintenance issues

Before you shop for at your local garden center, assess the areas of your yard where you would like them planted. What amount of light is received in each area? Plant tags will tell you the light requirements for the annuals that you are considering, and these requirements should be closely adhered to.

If a plant requires “full sun” do not attempt to plant them in a shady location, as plant growth will suffer, and flowering may not occur. Likewise, a plant that thrives in shade will get scorched by the sun if placed in a sunny location.

Soil and water requirements should also be taken into account. Many annuals need moist, well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients, however some annuals do perform better in poor soil conditions. Plant a gazania in rich, well-drained soil and water it regularly, and you’ll quickly see how this plant responds to this healthy environment. (Gazanias are drought tolerant and prefer poor soil conditions.)

Cleome - Or 'spider flower' is a very hardy, low maintenance annual that blooms from about June until the first heavy frost.

Likewise, a plant that is in need of regular watering will wilt and die quickly if it is not properly cared for. In general terms, plan to water your several times a week to keep them healthy and looking their best.

Finally, you will need to know how much maintenance each plant needs. Some plants need to be dead-headed regularly (such as geraniums) while others (such as cleome) take care of this on their own, and need little maintenance beyond water.

Fertilization should be discussed here briefly, as there are some plants that do perform better when they receive regular fertilization. If you’re new to this process however, I would recommend skipping this step. Over fertilization can result in poor plant growth and a significant decrease in flower production.

Your best bet is to plant annuals in a good potting soil mix and to focus on providing enough water. Soil left in pots from the previous year should be replaced. More detail on container flower gardens can be found here.

Good potting soil will have all the nutrients that most need to thrive throughout the growing season.

More detail on how to plant flowers can be found here.

Let’s discuss some of the annuals that are popular to the Midwest United States, along with some of the unique characteristics of each plant to help you make the best choices for your garden.

Shade Tolerant Annuals

Sun Loving Annuals

Annual plants - Dusty Miller

As far as where you should purchase your ? If you’re a seed enthusiast, there are several decent seed companies on the web to choose from, and you can get things well under way before spring is in full swing!

To find out more about how to establish an annual flower garden (opens new window) follow this link.

Gurney’s Seed and Nursery (opens new window) is one of my favorite online/catalog companies to order plants from. I have purchased apple trees and blueberry bushes from them, and lots of vegetable seeds. One of my orders failed to contain an item, and I found their customer service department to be friendly and easy to reach. The problem was resolved very quickly. Take a look for yourself!

Nature Hills Nursery (opens new window) has an outrageous supply of annuals flowers seeds to choose from, including wildflower seeds. The prices are reasonable, and you’ll be able to quickly and efficiently add loads and loads of color to your landscape!

Henry Fields (opens new window) is another company I order from regularly. It has a little of everything including annuals flowers, grass seed, house plants, fertilizers, and more…..

Personally, I prefer purchasing most of my from the local garden shop. There’s something about the instant gratification that I simply can’t resist when it comes to planting annuals!

Search for garden shops that deal with local growers and are smaller in nature, as you will most likely get plants that have been more “lovingly” cared for than when you shop at chain stores.


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