17 Annual Flowers for Year-Round Color

Discover outstanding annuals for strong seasonal color, including tips on when to plant.

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©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2009, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com


Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Photo courtesy of White Flower Farm

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

Kick off the growing season with this cool-season favorite. Sweet pea vines climb by tendrils and need a trellis. Plants top out at about 6 feet. In Zones 8 and 9, tuck seeds into soil in late fall for spring blooms. Landscape use: Plant along a trellis or fence line, or use to add color to a vegetable garden. Include in cutting gardens.

Snow Princess Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia hybrid ‘Inlbusnopr’ Snow Princess)

This dainty bloomer craves cool temperatures and typically stages the best show in spring and fall (or winter in warmest regions). Sweet alyssum flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink and purple tones. Plant in spring or fall. Landscape use: Tuck along edges of planting beds, or use in hanging baskets or containers. Good plant for a butterfly garden.

‘Cinderella’ Stock (Matthiola incana ‘Cinderella’)

Make room for flowering stock in your early spring garden. This bloomer is frost-tolerant and releases a spicy clove scent. Clip spent flower stalks to encourage more to form. In warm regions, stock flowers all winter. In cold-weather zones, look for plants in early spring. Plant as soon as you see them for sale. Landscape use: Plant where you can savor the fragrance. Use in mass plantings in beds near paths and entries or tuck into pots on porches.

Cornflower ‘Classic Fantastic’ (Centaurea cyanus)

Cornflower makes its appearance in early spring. It’s also known as bachelor’s buttons and comes in shades of blue, pink and white. Sow seed in very late fall for spring blooms. In coldest areas, tossing seeds out onto late winter snow drifts also brings a spring show. Plants self-sow. Landscape use: Include in a cutting or cottage garden. Pairs well with roses, dame’s rocket, larkspur or poppies.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Colorful nasturtium turns any garden area into a festive floral show. Plants grow easily from seed and prefer poor soil. Sow after all danger of frost has passed. Edible flowers and leaves offer a peppery bite. Flowers start in early summer and keep coming until fall frost. Landscape use: Blanket slopes, tuck along bed edges or in containers.

‘Surefire Rose’ Begonia (Begonia benariensis ‘Surefire Rose’)

This summer bloomer transforms any yard into the envy of the neighborhood. Plants sparkle in sun or shade and offer strong stems that grow 12 to 24 inches tall. Plant in spring or summer. Landscape use: Plant in mass in beds, or tuck into containers.

Angelface Blue angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Anbluim’)

Pretty purple flowers blanket plants all summer long. This annual stages a strong flower show and makes few demands in return. Plant in spring or summer. Fertilize plants in pots and trim plants after flowering to encourage more blooms and bushiness. Landscape use: Tuck into planting beds or use in containers. Makes a great addition to a butterfly or cutting garden.

‘Royal Velvet’ Supertunia and ‘Coral Red’ Superbena

Paint summer scenery with the non-stop blooms of Supertunia and Superbena, a verbena hybrid. Both of these beauties hit their stride as summer sizzles. Verbena needs long days to flower, so the show tapers off as fall arrives. Supertunia withstands the first light fall frosts. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Landscape use: Tuck along bed or container edges or use in hanging baskets.

Rudbeckia ‘Prairie Sun’ (Rudbeckia hirta)

Large flowers to 5 inches across add a strong splash of color to plantings from summer to fall frost. Plants self-sow and occasionally come back from the roots, usually in mild winter regions. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Landscape use: Include in planting beds or butterfly, cottage or cutting gardens.

'Spirit Merlot' Spider Flower (Cleome hassleriana 'Spirit Merlot')

Spider flower gives a strong, long flower show from summer heat to hard frost. Plants add a textural element to gardens with their tall, wispy form. Stems top out around 4 feet. Sow seed in early spring or fall. Plant seedlings after all danger of frost. Landscape use: Plant as a backdrop to shorter flowers in beds. Use in butterfly or cottage gardens.

Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’ (Zinnia elegans ‘Purple Prince’)

For color at the peak of summer, it’s tough to beat zinnia. These perky plants toss open blooms until hard frosts in fall. Sow seed in late spring after all danger of frost. Look for old-fashioned types, like ‘Purple Prince’, for larger blooms and longer stems perfect for cutting. Landscape use: Tuck into flower beds, vegetable gardens or containers. Fits well into cutting or butterfly gardens.

Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

Also known as Brazilian verbena, this beauty opens flowers from summer until hard frost. Stems top out at 4 feet (taller in warmer zones). This verbena is airy, weaving between other plants with ease. Plants self-sow readily and are often hardy in Zones 8 and 9. Sow seed in fall, spring or early summer. Landscape use: Tuck into cottage, butterfly or cutting gardens. Pairs well with roses, coreopsis or coneflowers.

Marigold Signet Tangerine Gem (Tagetes tenuifolia)

You’ll love this sturdy little plant that boasts big flower power. Blossoms open from summer to fall frosts. Sow seed in spring or early summer. Harvest edible flower petals to use in salads or garnish desserts. Landscape use: Include this butterfly magnet in wildlife gardens. Makes a great bed edging in mixed plantings and vegetable gardens.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Inneuphdia’)

Meet one of the most award-winning plants ever developed. This beauty stages a flower show that will leave you breathless—and all with very little care. Flowers appear through summer until hard frost. Plant whenever you see plants for sale. Landscape use: Tuck into containers or planting beds. Makes a great addition to drought-tolerant gardens.

Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana sylvestris)

Starry flowers seem to explode on this towering beauty, which grows 5 to 6 feet tall. Blooms exude a rich perfume that’s impossible to miss, especially at dusk. Plants self-sow and start flowering in late July and August. Sow seeds in early summer. Landscape use: Tuck into part shade beds or along the edge of vegetable gardens. A natural fit for a woodland garden.

Pansy (Viola wittrockiana)

Who can resist the cheery blooms of pansy? They strut their stuff during winter in warmer zones and early spring and fall in cold regions, bouncing back from light frosts. Landscape use: Plant in mass in beds or fill containers. When using for winter color, plant tightly for a fuller look, especially in regions with some freezing temperatures.

Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

For fall and winter color in warmer zones, consider snapdragon. These plants open flowers in a rainbow of hues and also come in a variety of plant heights, from short to towering. Established snapdragons can withstand subfreezing temperatures, making this a great choice for winter gardens. Sow seeds in fall, winter or early spring. Plant seedlings into soil whenever you see them for sale. Landscape use: Tuck into planting beds or containers. Choose tall varieties for cutting gardens.

Flying Colors Coral Diascia (Diascia ‘Diastis’ Flying Colors Coral)

This snapdragon cousin stages a strong show during the cool seasons—fall, winter and spring. Plant whenever you see plants for sale. When night temperatures shift above 70°F, plants stop flowering. Trim plants and keep them watered through summer. You might be surprised with autumn blooms. Landscape use: Plant in containers, hanging baskets or window boxes. Use in landscape beds for a carpet of color.