Choosing Your Annuals
How much sun do you have?
The amount of sunlight that your garden receives is by far the most important criteria for deciding what annuals to plant. Sunlight can be divided into 4 categories.
Remember that these categories are flexible. Soil conditions, availablity of water, direction and time of day of sunlight and seasonal changes will all affect how your annuals perform. Experiment by planting annuals in different parts of your garden to determine what grows best for you. Below is a short list of annuals and their sunlight requirements:
Sun or Shade
Part Sun Part Shade
If you garden in the heartland, check out the Kansas State Prairie Star program. Prairie Star annuals are flowers tested by K-State at their Research and Extension Center in Olathe, Kansas. These plants are selected for their superior performance in the harsh growing conditions found in the heartland.
How to plant and care for your annuals!
All garden plants require some care. For your annuals to perform well it is best to start with good soil. Always amend your flower beds with organic matter. This can be purchased as a ready-to-use compost or you can create your own compost at home. Dig this into the soil before planting. If you are planting in containers add a slow-release fertilizer to a good quality potting mix before planting.
Annuals can be started from seed or from container grown plants purchased at your local garden center. Container grown plants will grow larger in a shorter period of time. Start your seeds indoors early (see our seed starting page for more information).
Watering is very important, especially when your annuals are young. It is best to water deeply but infrequently rather than giving them a little water every day. Check the tag or seed packet for information regarding how much water your annuals would prefer. (See our page on watering for more information.)
Deadheading, or removing spent blossoms, is a very important task. Since annuals are "programed" to produce seeds in one season, it is a good idea to trim off blooms as they fade to keep the plant from producing seed. This will keep your annuals blooming at their best. Please don't be alarmed if your plants take a rest during the hottest part of the summer. Flower production is often affected by extreme heat conditions.
Of course the MOST important thing for you to do is to sit down with a cold drink and admire your garden. Flowers are meant to be enjoyed!
Best Plants for Summer Color - What Do the Experts Like?
- Lantana 'New Gold'
- Begonia 'Dragon Wing'
- Impatiens 'Merlot Mix'
- Ruellia 'Mexican Petunia'
- Verbena bonariensis
- Salvia 'Wendy's Wish'
- Angelonia 'Serena'
- Mandevilla 'Alice Du Pont'
- Cosmos 'Bright Lights'
- Gomphrena 'Fireworks'
- Begonia 'Dragon Wing' & 'Sinbad'
- Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegata'
- Ipomoea 'Chillin' Limeade'
- Melinus nerviglumis 'Savannah' & 'Champagne'
- Musa 'Siam Ruby'
- Ricinus communis gibsonii
- Solenostemon 'Glennis', 'Redhead' & 'Royal Glissade'
- Spilanthes oleracea 'Toothache Plant'
- Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger'
- Zinnia 'Zowie Yellow Flame'
- Petunia 'Vista Silverberry'
- Melinus 'Pink Champagne'
- Coleus 'Sedona'
- Lobularia 'Snow Princess'
- Lantana 'Luscious Citrus Blend'
- Zinnia 'Righteous Red'
- Pentas 'Butterfly Pink'
- Zinna 'Profusion Orange'
- Caladium 'Strap White Wing'
- Purple Hyacinth Bean
- Ageratum 'High Tide Blue'
- Alternanthera dentata 'Purple Knight'
- Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl'
- Coreopsis verticillata 'Full Moon'
- Cynara cardunculus 'Cardoon'
- Duranta 'Cuban Gold'
- Hibiscus 'Moy Grande'
- Pennisetum 'Princess Molly'
- Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstonne'
- Zinnia 'Profusion Double Cherry'
- Lobularia (Alyssum) 'Snow Princess'
- Calibrachoa (Million Bells)
- Daisys (Marguerite)
- Dusty Miller
- Vinca Vine
Annuals that like cold but are not frost tolerant
- Helichrysum (Straw Flower)