While perennials are celebrated for their low-maintenance qualities and ability to come back year after year, annuals are beloved for their bodacious, bright blooms that can last all summer long.
Whether you’re looking for a kaleidoscopic array of color, height, or fractalized flower petals, and whether your garden is a large country plot or a group of containers on a city balcony, these are some of the best annuals to plant for all-summer color:
Begonias pack a big punch of color and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and shades. Probably the most popular member of the family is commonly called wax begonia. These little charmers grow 8 to 10 inches tall and bear pink, red, or white blooms atop green or bronze foliage. Begonias thrive in partial sun and shade and work just as well in the flower border as they do in planters and window boxes.
These colorful beauties are famous for their unique and feather-like blooms. They come in a variety of shapes (brains, fans, and plumes) and a wide range of colors. These sun-loving annuals mix beautifully with other flowers, they also look stunning on their own when planted en mass.
These easy-care annual flowers develop daisy-like rose, white, or pink flowers all summer long. Double-flowering orange or yellow flowering varieties of cosmos are also available. Their dainty blooms are held on wiry stems that dance on the wind. Cosmos grow 15 to 36 inches tall, depending on variety, so they are ideal for the middle of an annual flower border or cutting garden.
From honeycomb-like shapes to fluffy peony-esque varieties, there are endless options when it comes to dahlias. These versatile annuals work well in a wide variety of situations, from border edges to pots and planters. Dwarf types grow just 8 to 12 inches tall, while standard-sized dahlia varieties can produce dinner-plate sized flowers on 6-foot-tall plants.
These cheery annual flowers are a snap to grow, offering nonstop bloom all summer long. Marigolds are often planted in or around vegetable gardens to repel pests such as rabbits. While there’s no scientific evidence saying this helps, marigolds do dress up an otherwise bland vegetable garden. And the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators they attract can help you get more yield from your vegetables.
Petunias come in an almost unlimited assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes. From compact types with dime-sized blooms to trailing types that form massive 3-foot-tall mounds, there’s a petunia to fit any garden situation. You can use petunias on their own in beds and borders or pack them into containers and baskets with other sun-loving bloomers. Trailing types can also be used as a colorful annual groundcover.
While you can opt to grow sunflowers in their classic golden hue, you can also find other varieties in shades of red, white, orange, and pink. These tall flowers can grow several feet high, so you may need to stake them to give them the proper support they need to flourish. If you crave a striking flower in your yard, the sunflower is it.
Zinnia will produce crop after crop of spirit-lifting flowers that work as well in the border as they do in containers. Zinnia comes in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from upright types that make excellent cut flowers to more compact, multi-flowered border plants. Height can vary from 8 inches to 36 inches tall. Flowers can be large or small, single, or double, and come in almost every color.
Once your annuals are planted, here are a few tips to ensure healthy flowering all summer and into fall:
- Remove old flowers and seed pods so plants can concentrate on producing more flowers.
- Weed your beds to reduce competition for food and water.
- If plants get leggy or floppy, pinch them back several inches. This allows them to branch out and grow to a fuller size.
- Water thoroughly once a week in dry weather. Be sure to soak the root zones. Applying mulch on top of your soil will also help your annuals hold moisture and keep blooming.
- Annuals will need additional food because they grow so quickly. Nourish your annuals with one spray pump of H-G Plant Food every 7-14 days and you’ll be well on your way to a summer garden teeming with color and life!
What are your favorite summer annuals to plant? Head to our Facebook page and drop us a line—we’d love to hear from you!