21 Annual Flowers for Year-Round Color

Annuals are known for their bright, showy color that lasts for a season to a year. Discover outstanding annuals for strong seasonal color, including tips on when and how to plant.

Related To:

Photo By: JSOBHATIS16899/Shutterstock

Photo By: ProvenWinners.com

©Image courtesy of Proven Winners

Photo By: Image courtesy of Burpee

Photo By: Only plant shots/Shutterstock

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Felicia Feaster

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: Nick Pecker/Shutterstock

Photo By: JSOBHATIS16899/Shutterstock

Photo By: Image courtesy of SelectSeeds.com

Photo By: Photo courtesy of White Flower Farm

Sweet Pea

Kick off the growing season with this cool-season favorite that's easily grown from seed. 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; elsewhere, sow in early spring. Plant along a trellis or fence line, or use to add color to a vegetable garden or cutting garden.

Learn More: Sweet Peas

Petunia

One of the best annual flowers is the petunia. For sheer flower power, petal hues and plant forms, this bloomer is tough to beat. They come in miniature versions, full-size versions and the larger-than-life Supertunia or Wave varieties, which quickly cover ground as they grow inches per day. The color spectrum is well-represented in this common annual flower, with blossoms opening in every hue imaginable. The 'Last Tango in Paris' container mix shown includes Supertunia Bordeaux along with bacopa and euphoria.

Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa looks like a miniature petunia. Use this popular annual flower in a container or bed, although a hanging basket might showcase its bright color best. Keep plants evenly watered but try not to overwater, which can damage roots; likewise, don't let the blooms wilt too much, which will stress the plant.

Learn More: How to Grow Calibrachoas

Sunflower

A common annual flower is sunflower, but Solar Flare sunflower (shown here) is anything but commonplace. Its flowers feature a flame style petal, with a black center disk surrounded by two-tone petals: burgundy by the dark center fading to brilliant gold. The effect is stunning in the garden, and plants are small enough (5 to 6 feet) that they fit into casual cottage garden style designs, including cutting gardens. Look for other sunflower varieties in unexpected colors, all easy to grow from seed.

See More: Tall and Tiny Sunflower Varieties

Stock

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 in a spot where you can savor the fragrance. Use in mass plantings in beds near paths and entries or tuck into pots on porches.

See More: Favorite Spring-Blooming Annuals

Sweet Alyssum

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. This 'Snow Princess' variety is a lovely cream color. Plant in spring or fall, tucking along edges of planting beds, or use in hanging baskets or containers. This plant attracts butterflies but deters rabbits.

Learn More: 13 Rabbit-Resistant Annuals

Begonia

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 in beds or containers.

Learn More: The Begonia 411

Verbena

Verbena truly loves the hot days of summer. It needs long days to flower, so the show tapers off as fall arrives. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed; tuck along the edge of beds or containers or use in hanging baskets. One newer hybrid variety that offers nonstop blooms is Superbena, paired here with Supertunia.

See More: Vivacious Verbena

Rudbeckia or Black-Eyed Susan

Large flowers of this 'Prairie Sun' variety grow to 5 inches across and 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. Use in planting beds or butterfly, cottage or cutting gardens.

Learn More: Black-Eyed Susan

Cleome or Spider Flower

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, or plant seedlings after all danger of frost. Use as a backdrop to shorter flowers in beds and in butterfly or cottage gardens.

See More: Deer-Resistant Annuals

Zinnia

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 is passed. Look for old-fashioned types like ‘Purple Prince’ for larger blooms and longer stems perfect for cutting. Tuck into flower beds, vegetable gardens or containers. Zinnia fits well into cutting or butterfly gardens.

Learn More: Zinnias Deliver Big Bang for Your Buck

Pansy

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. 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.

See More: Growing Tips and Planting Ideas for Fall Pansies

Diascia or Twinspur

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 degrees Fahrenheit, plants stop flowering. Trim plants and keep them watered through summer. You might be surprised with autumn blooms. Use in landscape beds for a carpet of color.

See More: Favorite Spring-Blooming Annuals

Angelonia

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. Angelonia makes a great addition to a butterfly or cutting garden.

See More: 13 Heat-Proof Annuals

Euphorbia

Another outstanding and popular annual flower is euphorbia. In bloom, this plant creates a blizzard in a pot. In the landscape, plants form a rounded mound of solid white. This is a heat and drought tolerant annual, and it also gives deer, rabbits and groundhogs the brush off. It’s not just a popular annual — it’s tough, too. Shown here is the award-winning variety 'Diamond Frost.'

Cornflower or Bachelor's Buttons

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. Use in a cutting or cottage garden alongside roses, dame’s rocket, larkspur or poppies.

Nasturtium

Colorful nasturtium turns any garden area into a festive floral show. Plants grow easily from seed and prefer poor soil. Sow seeds after all danger of frost has passed; flowers start in early summer and keep coming until fall frost. Use to blanket slopes, tuck along bed edges or in containers. This annual is also ideal for the vegetable garden as its edible flowers and leaves offer a peppery bite.

Tall Verbena

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. Tall verbena pairs well with roses, coreopsis or coneflowers.

Marigold

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. Include this butterfly magnet in wildlife gardens. It makes a great bed edging in mixed plantings and vegetable gardens, where it's been proven to deter pests who like to munch on tomatoes and other veggies.

Snapdragon

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. Choose tall varieties for cutting gardens.

Nicotania or Flowering Tobacco

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. Tuck into part-shade beds or along the edge of vegetable gardens. Nicotania is a natural fit for a woodland garden.

Shop This Look