Flowering annuals live for one growing season and are too tender to survive a cold winter. In areas with real winter, gardening with annuals is a way to add color and abundance to your landscape. Annuals can be planted in garden beds and grown in hanging baskets and planters.
Popular annuals include summer-loving impatiens, geraniums and marigolds. There are many blooms to suit your garden site and climate. Some tough, hardy annuals like pansies and snapdragons will even tolerate a light frost.
Annuals can be planted in flower beds, along borders, in container gardens and in hanging baskets. Read on to learn more about versatile annual blooms.
Types of Annuals
Plants that fit the “annuals” description vary depending on your region. Many popular annual flowers are tropical plants that won’t survive winter temperatures outside of USDA hardiness zone 9.
Here are some favorite, widely available annuals that can be grown from seed or seedling.
Characteristic: Hardy annuals – tolerate cool temperatures, freezing conditions
Characteristic: Prefer full sun
Characteristic: Prefer shade or filtered sun
Characteristic: Semi-hardy annuals – tolerate cool temperatures, moderate frost
Characteristic: Tender annuals – don't tolerate cool weather
Characteristic: Thrive in alkaline soil
- Sweet pea
Characteristic: Thrive in infertile soil
Characteristic: Tolerate drought
- Dusty miller
- Globe amaranth
Characteristic: Tolerate wet climates
You can grow annuals from seed or purchase plant seedlings and even mature plants for your garden and containers.
- Seeds: Starting seeds requires plenty of space, good light and proper temperature levels. Learn more about growing flowers from seeds.
- Live Plants: In the Garden Center, choose plants that are a deep green in color and are neither too compact nor too spindly. Also, look for plants with buds that have not yet bloomed.
- Containers and Hanging Baskets: Provides a more ideal root-zone environment.
- Screens and Hedges: Plant fast-growing annual vines next to trellises and fences for privacy.
- Know the dates of first and last frost in your area for the best time to plant. See the Frost Date Calendar for the best date to plant in your area.
- Most annuals can be planted as soon as the danger of frost is over.
- Before planting a garden bed, get a soil test from your local Cooperative Extension Service office or from the Garden Center. Most annuals prefer soil with a pH between 6.7 to 7.4. Learn more about how to test soil.
- Most soils, especially clay soils, benefit from organic amendments like compost. Work them into the soil prior to planting.
- Based on soil test results, add lime to acidic soils or aluminum sulfate to alkaline soils.
- When planting, gently untangle roots to help plants take hold of soil.
- Placement holes for each plant should be slightly larger than the root ball.
- Plants should stand in the ground at the same level as in the container.
- Carefully tamp down the earth around the plant for stability.
- Water thoroughly.
Caring for Annuals
- Fertilize annuals at least once or twice during growing season. You can start with half-strength fertilizer applications early in the season.
- Soil enriched with compost may not require fertilizer.
- Annuals need between 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches of water per week during growing season.
- Water early in the morning and aim the hose at the base of the plant and not the foliage.
- Add mulch to retain moisture in soil and reduce growth of weeds.
- Use general purpose insecticide or fungicide to treat disease and insect damage.
- Weed regularly to improve appearance and reduce insects and disease.
- Pinch off dead blooms (“deadhead”) to encourage new flowers.
Whether you need the right planters, seeds or potting soil, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.