Annual Flowers And Plants: What Are They?

Paint your yard with the living color of annuals. These short-lived beauties stage a season-long show without breaking the bank.
Zinnia x  (02) Habit

Zinnia x (02) Habit



Plant the garden of your dreams with easy-growing annual flowers and plants. These one-year wonders boast non-stop performance, unfurling colorful flowers and leaves that transform any yard or porch into a true garden escape. Annuals are nature’s powerhouse plants, marching through a single growing season with sure and steady color. 

An annual plant completes its life cycle in one year. That means it germinates from a seed, sends out roots, shoots and flowers, and ultimately sets seed. The goal of every annual is to set seed and ensure the survival of the species. Once seed matures, the life cycle is complete, and the annual plant dies. Other annuals have their lives cut short before they can set seed because frost arrives. 

Many annuals are tropical plants, native to south-of-the-border locales where frost doesn’t darken the garden gate. These plants may perform as perennials in warmer regions, but in areas with frost, they behave like annuals. Lantana and geranium, for instance, are annuals in northern areas, but behave like perennials in South Florida, Texas or California, surviving over winter or sending up new growth from the roots each spring. Plants like impatiens and wishbone flower are true annuals in North America and need equatorial conditions to survive year-round. 

Annual plants that bloom usually boast incredible flower power, tossing open blossoms one after the other all season long. They introduce instant color to a container or planting bed. A more recent trend in annual breeding is developing plants with eye-catching leaves. Plants like coleus, polka-dot plant and plectranthus bring beautiful hues to the garden courtesy of foliage. These leafy annuals showcase steady color all season long. There’s no downtime waiting for flower buds to form. Leaves continue to unfurl and create a beautiful display. 

You can find annuals that perform in every growing condition, including full sun, shady porches and wet spots by the downspout. Some annuals thrive in hot, dry conditions, while others strut their stuff best in cooler air and moist soil. One annual plant might tend to trail along the ground, which means it looks fantastic in a hanging basket, while another may grow more upright, making it a suitable choice for a container or focal point in a planting bed. 

Because annuals are ephemeral creatures, you can use them to experiment with color combinations in the garden or containers. They also make terrific additions to young perennial beds, quickly filling in empty spaces with stand-out color. Annuals in containers dress outdoor living areas with welcoming greenery and carefree color. 

Get the most out of your annual investment by giving plants well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter. For most annual flowers and plants, this type of soil gives plants a happy footing. Don’t hesitate to remove spent blooms from flowering annuals. On foliage annual plants like coleus, remove flower buds as soon as you spot them to ensure a strong and steady leaf display.

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