Annual flowers are types of plants that only grow for a single season. They can grow from spring well into the fall, and they die off when the freezing weather comes along. They won’t grow back in the spring unless you plant them again. This is a direct difference from perennial flowers where a small part dies back when it freezes, but the roots live and the plant re-grows again in the spring. Many people like annual flowers because they’re a fantastic way to switch up the look of your garden from year to year, and they make great backyard and pond design pieces.
There are so many brilliant annual flowers available, deciding which ones will do the best in your landscape can be overwhelming. You can create gorgeous contemporary designs to add interest to your yard with the correct annual flowers, and I’ve picked out several great examples. I’ll outline the best growing conditions, give you tips to grow them, and more. By the time you reach the end, you’ll have a great idea on which annual flowers will and won’t work for your landscaping needs.
First up is the Vinca. Better known as Madagascar Periwinkle, this purple flower will add a pop of interest to your yard. It has non-stop blooming throughout the late spring months well into the fall, and it needs zones four through nine. You’ll plant this annual flower in full sun to partial shade to keep it happy, and it needs well-drained soil that is very rich in organic matter for it to grow. If you get the growing conditions correct, it can grow to a height of 1 to 2.75-feet with lighter green leaves and stems. It’s very popular for beginner gardeners.
Marigold is a classic annual flower, and they’re extremely easy to care for because they work well in pots or into the ground. They will bloom throughout the summer into the fall months, and they have a range of gorgeous coloring that makes them pop in your landscape. They grow best in zones 9 through 11, and they need full, direct sunlight to be happy. You’ll plant them in a rich and well-drained soil that doesn’t retain a lot of moisture. They come in red, orange, and yellow bi-coloring, and they’ll grow between ½ and 1 ½-feet tall under the right conditions.
Impatiens are an annual flower that is very easy to grow and keep healthy in containers, and this makes them very popular on porches, balconies, and patios. They come in a wide range of colors from red, orange, and yellow, to light blue, purple, pink, white, and bi-colored that helps them stand out. They require partial shade to full sun with a rich but well-draining soil and routine watering to thrive. If you plant them in zones 8 to 10, they can easily grow between one to six feet high. If they get that high, you’ll want to stake them to give them a little more support.
Zinnias are famously low-maintenance, and this makes them an excellent choice of annual flower for new gardeners or people who are very busy. They add a splash of vibrant color to your bouquets or landscape beds, and they come in burgundy, red, orange, yellow, pink, purple, or white. They need well-draining soil with watering every few days, and you’ll want to plant them in an area that gets full, direct sun for at least six hours a day to help them keep their vibrant colors. They survive well in zones 2 to 11, and they can easily grow between 0.5 and 2.5-feet tall.
Anyone who wants to add a bit of drama and texture with their annual flowers should look at Celosia. The petals on this flower won’t fall easily, and it grows in a spiky, feathery look that makes it popular with bouquets. This annual flower is excellent for borders as it can grow up to three feet high at full maturity, and it blooms well into the fall months. It can grow well in full sun to partial shade as long as you plant it in a highly-fertile, well-drained soil medium and water it regularly. It needs zones 2 to 11, and it comes in white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and red hues.
Several begonia species like the Rex Begonia are a favorite annual flower due to the big blooms and showy look. They come in a range of colors that makes them popular for landscaping, including red, white, orange, pink, and salmon. They grow in zones 8 to 10 the best, and you’ll want to plant them in a location that gets partial shade or full sun. Planting them in containers allows you to move them with the sun. They need well-drained soil, and this can allow them to grow between 0.5 and 1.5-feet high with large blooms that continue until the fall months come around.
Anyone who likes to grow edible flowers can use Calendula in salads and soups, and it has brighter colors that’ll help cheer up any landscape. It also serves a use as a pressed essential oil to help soothe your skin and keep it hydrated. This annual flower grows in zones 9 to 11, and it needs rich soil that drains very well to keep it healthy. You’ll want to plant it in full sun to partial shade, and it’ll grow in shades of cream, yellow, orange, and off-white. It can get up to two feet tall at the highest point, so make sure you keep this height in mind when you plant it.
Petunias do very well in pots as hanging plants, and they come in a huge range of shades, including blues, pinks, whites, purples, and bi-colored. They’re a very hardy and forgiving annual flower, and this makes them popular with first-time landscapers or gardeners. They need full and direct sun to grow and thrive, and you want to make sure they have well-drained soil that doesn’t hold moisture because this can encourage fungal diseases and root rot. They grow best in zones 8 to 11, and they can get up to a foot high. They can look gangly though, so keep an eye on them.
This annual flower is very fragrant when it blooms, and you get longer spikes of flowers in an elegant mouth-like shape. They come in several colors, shapes, and sizes that makes it easy to mix and match around your landscaping to create height and texture. You can pick from shades of white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, salmon, and deep red. Some are multi-colored. They need full sun and well-draining soil, and you’ll want to live in zones 9 or 10 for them to do well. Depending on the variety you get, they can grow between 1-foot to 3.5-feet tall at their highest point. You’ll have to stake the bigger ones to support them.
English Primroses are dainty, colorful flowers that are popular in zones 3 to 8. They come in several bright color options like red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, pink, and white to help brighten up your patio or deck, and they can grow up to 1.5-feet high under the correct conditions. They do need partial shade out of the direct sunlight because they’ll burn if they’re not, but they can create a cheerful addition to any landscape. The bright green leaves with a slightly textured feel add pops of interest and help the blooms stand out even more until the first frost moves in.
Stock is an annual flower that has a clove-like scent when it blooms that makes it an excellent choice for lining your garden or for use in bouquets. It grows best in zones 2 to 10, and it can come in white, peach, pink, purple, blue, yellow, or red coloring. It does need full sun, and this can be a challenge because it also needs consistently most soil that drains well. This means that you’ll have to water it more frequently to prevent it from wilting or burning off. They can grow between one and three feet high, and the clusters of flowers on the spikes add drama to your landscape design.
12. Sweet Alyssum
If you’re after an annual flower that will add a sweet scent to your garden in the fall, look no further than Sweet Alyssum. This plant is also very difficult to kill, and this makes it popular for busy gardeners. It does need full sun to partial shade to grow, but it also likes a well-draining soil with slightly damp conditions. This means that it’ll forgive you if you forget to water it once or twice, but you shouldn’t make a habit out of it. It comes in purple, pink, or white, and it can grow up to a foot tall. You’ll get slightly oblong leaves with small clusters of flowers in a single color per plant.
13. African Daisy
This is a happy annual flower that can start blooming early into the spring months and go well into the fall until the first frost comes to add a lot of color to your landscape or garden. They need full sunlight with a well-draining soil to create the best growing environment, and you should be in zones 9 to 11 to keep them happiest. They come in white, pink, purple, yellow, orange, salmon, and red in solid colors or in varying hues. Depending on the species you get, they can grow up to five feet tall, so make sure you double-check the label before you plant them.
Pansies are a cheerful annual flower that also work very well to repel ticks, so they’re great to have in your yard if ticks are a problem during the summer months. They bloom very early in the spring and continue through the summer months, and they come in yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, pink, white, and tri-colors. They need full sun with a well-draining soil to do well, and they survive very well in hanging baskets. They grow up to under a foot tall, and you can use them as decorations in salads and desserts or garnishes on plates or in soups. You’ll have to be in zones four to eight.
The fragrant blooms on this annual flower makes it popular with gardeners and landscapers alike, and it comes with bright flowers that the plant’s beautiful blue-grey foliage offsets. They come in purple, pink, or white with vibrant colors, and they need partial shade to full sun to thrive. You’ll want to put them in well-drained soil, and they need to be in zones 2 to 10 to do well. This is a large range, and this makes them a very flexible flower that does well both in the ground or in a pot. It only gets just under a foot high, and this allows you to create a layered landscape effect.
16. Sweet Pea
Sweet Pea is the perfect annual flower to grow if you live in a more mild climate in zones 3 to 8. This is a late-blooming flower that will really start to show at the end of summer well into the winter months if you don’t get frost or snow. It needs well-drained soil with partial shade, and it can get up to around 1.5-feet high at the biggest point. It comes in shades of white, pink, purple, blue, orange, yellow, or red, and it grows uniquely shaped flowers on a longer stalk.
This annual flower comes in a host of fall colors like red, salmon, orange, yellow, purple, pink, and off-white that makes it excellent for bouquets or pots. It requires full sun with a well-draining soil, and this plant won’t mind if it gets a little on the dry side between watering sessions. It does best in zones 9 through 11, so this makes it slightly more picky about the environment. This plant can grow up to 1.5-feet tall at full maturity, and the colors of the flower are offset by the lighter green leaves that come in a gently rounded shape.
Geraniums are bright, happy annual flowers that are very easy to care for. There are hundreds of different species to choose from, and they give you virtually unlimited combinations for your bouquets, pots, or flower beds. They come in red, salmon, orange, blue, purple, pink, and white, but you’ll usually only find blue out in the wild. They need well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade to thrive, and they can grow easily in zones four to eight. They can get up to 2.5-feet high, but they tend to get slightly leggy at this stage and need more support to keep them looking neat and tidy.
Also known as Bachelor’s Buttons, the Cornflower is a deep, vibrantly-colored annual flower. They need full sun with well-drained soil to thrive, and they will do okay if you don’t soak the soil when you want them. They’re hardy, and they grow well in zones 2 to 11. They can get between one and three-feet high, depending on the species. You can choose from blue, red, pink, and white, and these flowers tend to have deeper colors by the center and lighter by the ends of the petals. They also have a clove-like flavor that you can use as a garnish for several dishes.
This annual flower looks like a very small version of the petunia. You can put it in a bed or container, but hanging baskets are a great way to showcase the vibrant colors the best. You’ll need to put this plant in a well-draining soil and set up a watering routine that keeps the soil slightly moist but not soaked. Soaking it will damage the roots, and it shouldn’t be allowed to wilt too much because this can cause stress to the plant. Keep them out of the direct sunlight in a partially shaded area and they’ll bloom well into the fall months.
21. Solar Flare Sunflower
Sunflowers are annual flowers, but the Solar Flare Sunflower is something special. You’ll get a plant that offers flame-like petals that have a black center in a disc shape that comes surrounded by two-tone petals. The petals start as a burgundy color and fade to a stunning gold. They can grow between five and six feet tall, and they need well-draining soil with full sun to reach their full height. There are several colors and sizes available, so shop around to find the one that fits into your garden the best. They produce a host of seeds in the fall that are excellent for the birds.
This annual flower needs hot weather and long summer days to encourage it to flower. But, when it flowers, Verbena gives you a nice show in any hanging basket. The flowers start to die back in the early fall months, but it’s an easy-to-care for option. It grows tiny clusters of flowers in pink, purple, white, or yellow set against darker foliage that helps create a nice contrast. You’ll need rich soil that drains very well, and it’s important that you water it regularly. It grows well indoors and out in full sun to partial shade, this plant is easy to use as a companion plant.
23. Black-Eyed Susan
This annual flower is very cheerful, and it can start to bloom in the early summer and go well into the fall months in more mild climates. Certain species of this plant have flowers that can grow up to an impressive five-inches in diameter, and they add a large splash of color in cheerful yellows or beautiful gold hues. They will self-sow and come back at the roots in mild climates, and they like well-drained sandy soil that is slightly dry. You won’t have to water them a lot, and they need full sun to very light shade.
This annual flower is better known as Spider Flower. It gives you a very long flower show that starts in the summer months and goes until the first hard frost, and this makes it an excellent choice for your butterfly garden. This plant gives you a wispy and tall form that adds texture to your garden or landscape, and the stems will top out at around four-feet tall. They need very rich soil that drains well in partial shade, and you’ll want to keep them out of the direct sunlight if you can help it. The deep green foliage offsets the flower whisps to create an eye-catching display.
This annual flower will grow pretty deep purple flowers all spring and summer long that give off a sweet and subtle fragrance. This is a very low-maintenance plant, and it’s simple to get it to flower multiple times throughout the season. After they flower, trim them back and fertilize them to grow bigger and fuller. You’ll plant them in a rich soil that you keep slightly moist, and they do well in partial shade to full sun. The flower stalks will add height to your landscape and allow you to create a layered look.
The final annual flower on the list is Euphorbia, and this is a very hardy specimen that is deer-resistant. It’ll also resist groundhogs and rabbits if you live in an area with these pests. It forms a rounded mound with solid white flower clusters if you plant it in the ground, and you’ll get a blizzard in a pot if you put it in a container. It’s a drought and heat-tolerant plant that does well in a range of lighting and moisture conditions, and it likes well-draining soil. You can get it in different sizes, and you can train it to grow in different shapes. The rounded shape makes it nice for edges or walkways.
These 26 annual flowers are all excellent at helping you create a contemporary landscaping design that you can switch out from year to year. They bring splashes of color throughout the seasons, and you’ll be able to mix and match to create height, texture, and fun layered looks around your home or business. I invite you to take a look, pick out a few, and mix them into your landscaping design to create a show-stopping piece that grabs attention any time someone sees it.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.