Spring and Summer Annuals

Paint your garden with living color by planting annuals that bloom all summer. Extend the season even more with spring annuals.
Monkey Flowers with Small Red Blooms

Monkey Flowers with Small Red Blooms

Mimulus, or monkey flower, likes really wet spots. It is popular with bumble bees. It does spread, but can not grow where there is no water. Confine it in a wet spot. It prefers sunny locations.

Photo by: DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide © 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - The Complete Gardener's Guide , 2011 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Mimulus, or monkey flower, likes really wet spots. It is popular with bumble bees. It does spread, but can not grow where there is no water. Confine it in a wet spot. It prefers sunny locations.

Turn up the color in your yard with summer annuals that come into their own when temperatures soar. Summer annual flowers fill a garden with bold waves of color, and you can savor an even longer show by adding spring annuals to beds and containers. By using a combination of heat-tolerant annuals and spring annual flowers, you can create a colorful garden escape that lasts for months. 

Summer annuals are all-stars when it comes to serving up garden color. These are the plants that pack a flowery punch and fill summer months with a strong performance. Summer annual flowers don’t need much more than water, fertilizer and a place to sink their roots to stage a spectacular show. If you select drought-tolerant annuals, once they’re established, you don’t even need to water that often to ensure a pretty display. 

Today’s summer annuals feature powerhouse plants like Wave petunias or Supertunias, which grow many inches a day under ideal conditions. Other plant breeding breakthroughs that have created outstanding summer annuals are heat tolerant snapdragons and sun tolerant coleus, caladium and impatiens. Tropical plants, now readily available at many retail outlets, play a key role in the summer annual show, thriving in the heat and humidity that the season brings. 

Summer annual flowers worth growing for their non-stop show include Dragon Wing begonias and Begonia boliviensis, a tuberous begonia with bell-like blooms. These plants wow with average care, but if you provide well-drained soil and steady bloom booster fertilizer, you’re on your way to a traffic-stopping display. Diamond Frost-type euphorbias (Euphorbia graminea) are another summer annual group that thrives in heat and humidity and never misses a blooming beat. They have been called a blizzard in a pot, and that’s just what they resemble. Grow it once, and you’ll never spend a summer without it. 

For cheery spots of living sunshine, investigate gloriosa daisies (Rudbeckia hirta). This group of summer annuals resembles a black-eyed susan, unfurling blossoms to 3 inches wide or more, with petals in shades of gold, bronze, burgundy and brown. They’re spectacular in containers or planting beds. Count on zinnias, sunflowers and cheery melampodium (Melampodium paludosum) for more daisy-like blooms all summer long. 

Don’t miss out on summer annuals that feature all-star foliage. This group includes coleus, with both its shade loving and sun tolerant members. Coleus has exploded with foliage fireworks, offering color combinations that bedazzle. Draft summer annual canna lilies to add height and striking leaf hues to landscape plantings. Tropicanna, Bengal Tiger and Pretoria cannas feature stunning leaves with artistic color combinations. 

Kick off the summer show by filling pots and beds with spring annuals, which typically thrive in cooler weather. This group of seasonal beauties includes lobelia (Lobelia erinus), Nemesia and monkeyflower (Mimulus). Or maybe you want to savor the fragrances of sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), sweet William (Dianthus) and flowering stock (Mathiola incana). In regions with cool summers, many spring annuals continue to shine well into summer. Typically these spring bloomers prefer temperatures between 60° F and 80° F.

Keep Reading