Top 28 Annual Flowering Plants To Grow for a Year-Round Colorful Garden

Annual flowers only last a season, but that’s part of their charm. You appreciate them more because you know they won’t be around next year, unless you sow some more seeds.

But annuals also have their perks. For example, if you’re just starting out as a gardener, or if you’ve moved to a new garden, and you’re not sure what will work, growing annuals is a great way to start.

This practice tells you a lot about the garden by which plants thrive, and where they thrive. 

You’ll be able to tell what kind of soil you have without getting it tested, where the best light is, where the most sheltered spot is, and then you can plan your garden accordingly.

It’s also helpful if you find you want to make dramatic changes in the garden year after year. While that sounds insanely expensive, if you’re growing annuals from seed, it is much cheaper than buying annuals as plugs, or buying perennials.

For example, if you fancy a wild meadow full of wildflowers one year, and then the next you only want flowers of a particular color, or you want a cutting garden, you can always start again.

Annuals are also great for filling in gaps in between the perennials, especially when some have finished and some haven’t sprung up just yet.

Here are just some of the most striking annuals you can grow yourself.

African Daisy

In most places, African daisies, or osteospermums are grown as annuals, unless you live in a USDA plant zone of 9 or above, in which case they are tender perennials.

The African Daisy requires full sun in order to thrive, but it doesn’t mind poor, well-draining soil. They also last a fairly long time, while filling your garden with spectacular color.

Angelonia

If you live somewhere very dry, Angelonia is a lovely choice, as it’s very drought resistant, producing tubular-shaped blooms which attract all sorts of pollinators. 

Put it in full sun, and it will flower from the later days of spring well into autumn.

Begonia

As there are many types of Begonias, there’s one suitable for any outdoor space imaginable. 

Some need more care than others, and, if you decide you love them, you can move it indoors once winter hits, and replant the tubers the following year.

Calendula

While Calendula don’t flower until the later days of summer, they are very much worth the wait. 

They will survive in a very sunny position or even partial shade, as long as you give them freely draining soil.

While being incredibly gorgeous, sure to stand out across garden beds or containers, they are also useful in making cosmetics.

Calibrachoas

Also known as Million Bells, these lovely blooms are annuals in zones 8 and below. They are  fairly undemanding, and look great in containers or at the front of borders, where they can get a lot of sun.

Celosia

If you want an unusual display in your garden, you can’t go wrong with Celosia (see also Growing Celosia). These lovely plants look like plumes of feathers, soft fans, or even brains, depending on the variety you go for!

They are also available in a number of different colors, making them perfect for any garden scheme.

Chrysanthemum

An ever-popular cornerstone of planting, Chrysanthemums are unforgettable blooms which appear in late summer into autumn, and come in nearly every shade you can imagine. You can also get them as perennials, too.

Cornflower

Annual cornflowers are extremely easy to grow from seed, as long as you plant them in full sun and well-draining soil. They also attract pollinators, and they are a real favorite of the bees.

Dianthus

Dianthus are available in both annual and perennial varieties, producing vivid flowers in shades of white, pink, and red. 

Despite their delicate appearance, they are very easy to care for, and make great additions to borders or containers.

Helipterum 

Also known as Everlasting Australian Beauty, or Rhodanthe chlorocephala subsp. Rosea ‘Pierrot’, this striking flower features rows of white petals along a central black eye ringed with yellow.

As you can imagine, these blooms are perfect for a cut flower garden, as they last a significantly long time.

Larkspur

Larkspur is an easy way to add both height and color into your garden. You’ll need to put them somewhere fairly sheltered, or stake them, so the wind cannot break their delicate stems.

You can also sow the seeds directly into the soil during fall, which will produce very early color, and then sow them again in spring. 

Larkspur requires full sun and well-draining soil, but it will reward you with sprays of vivid color.

Limnanthes

Limnanthes douglasii, or the poached egg flower, will brighten up any space you choose to put it, producing bowl-shaped vivid white blooms with yellow hearts, the exact color of a poached egg.

It’s also known as meadow foam, and spreads to cover any spare ground, while staying fairly compact.

Linaria

Linaria look very much like small snapdragons, only reaching a maximum of 30cm high, but they provide a wealth of color into any border or container during the height of summer.

Like snapdragons, the flowers are often bicolored at the heart, and they require full sunlight in order to thrive, doing best in sandy soil.

Marigold

A list of beautiful annuals wouldn’t be complete without the marigold. 

Not only do these gorgeous plants cheer up any space with their warm and uplifting tones of yellow, red, and orange, but they also attract pollinators while keeping away aphids and other pests.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium flowers (see also Nasturtium Flower Meaning) are extremely easy to grow from seed, and produce flowers in shades of red, orange, and yellow.

 Every part of the plant is edible, usually used in salads, and it helps that these lovely plants also keep pests away from your vegetables.

Nigella

Also known as Love-in-a-mist, this is one of the most unusual and hardy annuals you can sow in your garden, straight into the soil where you want them to grow.

Both the flowers and the seed heads make for a unique sight, offsetting well against the airy foliage. You can also take the flowers for cuttings if you prefer.

Pansies

Pansies have been a firm favorite with gardeners for years, and it’s not difficult to see why. 

They are easy to grow and easier to care for, while filling out any flower bed with a wealth of color, withstanding the worst the spring has to throw at it. 

Pentas

Like the Angelonia, Pentas needs as much sunlight as you can give it, and the warmest temperatures possible. 

It will reward you with globular clusters of flowers in red, pink, white, and purple for the majority of the summer months.

Petunias

The petunia (see also Petunia Growing Requirements) is another annual which is extremely easy to grow, and does well in every season except winter. 

The options for your planting scheme are limitless, as petunias (see also Petunia Flower Symbolism) come in many colors, while they will happily thrive in beds, containers, or hanging baskets.

Primrose

Primroses will brighten up any container or bed you choose to put them in, but they really are at their best during the winter and the early spring, when other plants are still dormant, allowing you to put color into your garden year-round.

Ranunculus

These lovely, paper-like blooms will appear at the first sign of spring if you plant them in fall. There’s one for every color scheme imaginable, as they come in a kaleidoscope of color.

Snapdragons

Snapdragons offer a wealth of height and color into any garden. It also helps that they are extremely easy to grow from seed, and attract bees.

Stock

Stock is highly scented, which can divide some people, as it smells a little like cloves. These lovely flowers need a sunny position and well-draining soil.

Sweet Alyssum

Also classed as a herb, sweet alyssum is the perfect patio plant, as it is heavily fragranced. It grows well in both full sunlight and partial shade, and stays compact.

Sweet Pea

While perennial sweet peas don’t have to be grown every year, annual sweet peas are arguably the better of the two, as they have an amazing fragrance (see also Annual VS Perennial Sweet Peas). 

Just make sure you give them some support, as these climbers can reach as tall as 10 feet high!

Sunflower

You may picture a golden yellow ray of petals when you think of sunflowers, but there are many colors and heights available, making them perfect for any garden.

Vinca

Also known as the Madagascar periwinkle, Vinca produces vivid blue flowers all the way through the summer months.

Zinnia

Zinnias are extremely easy to grow from seed, attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies and bees, and come in a huge range of colors.

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