When it comes to adding instant pizzazz to a garden, there’s nothing to compare with annuals and their free-flowering ways. Here are five annuals every gardener should get to know.
These upright, bushy annuals bloom nonstop from summer into fall. The globe-shape flowerheads reach 12 to 32 inches high, depending on cultivar. They are sometimes used in dried flower arrangements. Colors include pink, purple, white, and red. Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) prefers full sun.
- Good to Know: The small globular flowers are best seen against a backdrop. Consider planting globe amaranth against a colorful wall or in front of dark-colored companion plants.
A perennial in the warmer climates of Zones 9-10, angelonia is an up-and-coming annual in other areas. Gardeners can’t resist the bright spires of flowers, which appear all summer. Also called summer snapdragon, angelonia features purple, white, or pink flowers -- some of which are fragrant. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and prefers full sun.
- Good to Know: These drought-tolerant flowers can be used in beds, borders, and containers. Pair the purple-flowered varieties with silver-leafed plants such as dusty miller or lamb’s ears to intensify the color.
This old garden mainstay is finding renewed interest among gardeners anxious for an alternative to disease-stricken impatiens. Begonias grow 6-18 inches tall and bloom all summer in colors ranging from red, pink, and white to apricot and orange. Although they take more sun than most impatiens, begonias do best with light shade and a rich, well-drained soil.
- Good to Know: Perfect for containers because of their compact shape, begonias also look great when massed in beds. Keep them well watered and fertilized for the most luxuriant look.
Celosia doesn’t just depend on a roster of bright red, yellow, and orange colors to get attention. It also boasts uniquely shaped blooms that look like feather dusters, bottle brushes, or cauliflower heads, depending on species. Heights range from 6 inches to 4 feet, and all celosia are easy to grow if given full sun and a well-drained soil.
- Good to Know: Enjoy the diminutive cauliflower-type celosia close up in tabletop planters. Use the taller plume-type celosia in large containers or to edge a bed; they will sparkle even from a distance.
Although always popular, marigolds were sometimes underappreciated by those seeking something more unique. That is changing as gardeners realize a tough plant with eye-popping color can make a truly great friend in the garden. Marigold (Tagetes) makes the best of hot, dry weather and marginal soils. Bright blooms come in yellow, orange, cream, and bicolored patterns until the first hard frost.
- Good to Know: Although drought-tolerant, marigolds look their best if given regular watering. Pluck dead blooms between your thumbnail and forefinger to keep marigolds blooming with abandon. Leave the last flower heads of fall to dry in place and produce seed for next year.