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Planting Flowers: Annuals

Purple PansyAnnuals are plants that grow, blossom, produce seeds, and die within one year. All of the following flower varieties are easy to grow annuals, and are commonly found in gardens, windowboxes and planters. They can thrive in average soil with regular watering, and do not require a great deal of effort (i.e. they are not highly popular with pests, and do not require heavy fertilizing or careful maintenance).


Growing flowers not only adds beauty to your garden, but also attracts wildlife, enhancing the biodiversity of your garden space. Plant these flowers directly in your garden by seed (you can also find growing information on the back of the seed packets). Flower seedlings of any of these varieties can also be purchased in plastic containers (usually in six-packs) and planted directly in your garden. Visit flower maintenance tips for more information on tending to your plants.

Alyssum

Alyssum

Colors: White, pink, purple 
Plant Height: 6-9” 
Description: Small, delicate flowers often used for edgings, containers and rock gardens. Spread in wide clumps. Long blooming periods and often will survive light frosts
Spacing: 8-10” apart 
How to Grow:

  • Full to partial sun.
  • Alyssum are tender annuals, so be sure to plant them after the last frost.
  • To sow seeds indoors, press seeds lightly into growing medium (they require light to germinate).

Bachelor Button

Bach Buttons

Colors: Blue, pink, white, maroon 
Plant Height: 12-36” 
Description: Small 1" blooms on sparse thin stems, flowers in early summer and may again in fall. Reseeds itself in garden to return the following season. Ideal flowers for a cutting garden.
Spacing: 12-14” apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Sun to partial shade.
  • Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month.
  • Sow indoors about 4 weeks before the last frost, or plant seeds directly outdoors after last frost.


Black-Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan

Colors: Yellow/gold/orange petals with black centers
Plant Height: 2-3’
Description: American wildflower with commonly recognized daisy-shaped bloom. Blooms June-August.
Spacing: 1-1½ apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Full sun.
  • If planted early in the spring, first blooms may arrive that same season (otherwise, sow seeds in early summer or fall for flowers the following year).


Cosmos

Cosmos

Colors: Pink, white, red 
Plant Height: 4-5’ 
Description: Fast growing flowers, most are annuals, but there are perennial varieties. Airy foliage and bright flowers.
Spacing: 12” apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Full sun to partial shade.
  • Plant seeds or seedlings outdoors after the last expected frost.
  • Sow seeds indoors six weeks before the last expected frost. Press lightly into soil 1/16” deep.


Marigold

Marigold

Colors: Yellow, gold, red, white 
Plant Height: From 6” – 3’. French Marigolds grow 6-18” high. 
Description: Will bloom from mid-summer all the way until frost. Flowers are 2-6” across. An excellent companion plant to vegetables because of their strong scent (which is known to repel insects).
Spacing: Small varieties: 6-8” apart; Tall varieties: 12-18” apart
How to Grow: 

  • Full to partial sun
  • Plant seeds in the ground on or right before the last average frost date.
  • Sow seeds six weeks before last frost.


Morning Glory

Morning Glory

Colors: Purple, blue, white, bi-colors 
Plant Height: 10-20” 
Description: Morning glory is a fast climber with heart-shaped leaves and flowers that bloom up to 3 “ in diameter in the early hours of the day. Blooms mid-summer to fall.This flower greets you each morning midsummer all the way into the first frost. Although it is sold as a nursery plant, seeds grows easily. Annual plants, but morning glories often reseed themselves, and come back the following year.
Spacing: 6” apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Full sun
  • Plant from seed early in the season directly in soil, cover with ¼ inch of soil.
  • Requires a tall trellis, fence or other support to climb (i.e. fasten chicken wire against a side of a building).
  • Be sure to give morning glory plenty of space to grow up, and out, as they climb.


Nasturtium

Nasturtium

Colors: Red, orange, yellow, gold, dark pink 
Plant Height: 6-12” 
Description: The leaves and the flowers of this plant are edible. Nasturtium are also considered an excellent companion plant - their peppery leaves ward off insects, such as cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. In warmer climates, nasturtiums are perennials and flower year-round.
Spacing: 6-12” apart, depending on variety 
How to Grow: 

  • Prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade.
  • Sow seeds indoors ½” deep in peat pots 4-6 weeks before last frost, or directly sow into garden once all danger of frost has past.


Pansy

Pansy

Colors: Including hybrid varieties, pansies come in every color! 
Plant Height: 8” 
Description: Pansies are one of the earliest flowering plants. Blooms are spring-fall. In warmer climates, pansies are perennials and bloom year round. They are edible and also ideal for flower-pressing.
Spacing: 6” apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Full to partial sun.
  • Sow seeds early in the season, cover with 1/8” of soil.
  • Prefer cool to warm climates.
  • Sow seeds indoors in shallow trays 10-12 weeks before the last average frost in moist planting medium.


Sunflower

Sunflower

Colors: Gold, red-brown, orange-yellow 
Plant Height: 12-108” 
Description: Sunflowers attract birds – they are the favorites of Goldfinches! Annual or perennial varieties.
Sunflowers bloom in summer.
Spacing: Giants: 12-24” apart 
How to Grow: 

  • Full sun.
  • Sow in 2" deep soil.
  • May need staking for larger varieties.


Zinnia

Zinnia

Colors: White, yellow, orange, red, rose, pink, multi-colored 
Plant Height: Depends on variety. Miniature – giant range from 12” to 3’ 
Description: American natives, these flowers have been hybridized to create a number of colors and varieties. Very easy to grow from seed, they enjoy a rich soil that has been amended with compost.
Spacing: 8-18” apart, depending on variety 
How to Grow: 

  • Full sun.
  • To sow seeds indoors, start a month before the last frost. Use peat pots – they do not like to be transplanted, and this will also help space them properly.