Annuals are a wonderful way to add quick color to your garden bed, hanging baskets and planters. If you have just started a perennial garden, you may be disappointed that you have empty spaces as you wait a season or two for the plants to fill in and show you how they will truly look; annuals will fill those spaces, add color and attract local bees and butterflies to your garden.
Adding annuals to your garden will help ease some frustration as you wait for the perennials to bloom and fill in.
Below are 5 great annuals that are my favorite, easy annuals to add a splash of color to your garden whether it is in a pot, a new garden bed or your established garden.
The number of new varieties of marigolds every year allows you to try something new and bright in your garden every spring. Marigolds are sturdy, bright plants that can fit in just about any space that you put them in. Tall, short, bushy, large flowered, small flowered, whatever you are looking for in a flower, a marigold can do. They come in all shades of yellow, orange, white and red with dark green feathery foliage.
Encourage new growth and keep plants tidy by pinching the heads off after the flower is finished. You can also add marigolds to your tomato garden or planter to help keep pests away.
There are thousands of different varieties of salvia, and some are perennial, but lets talk specifically about the annual salvia to add some tall spikes of color to your garden. I love annual salvia for many reasons, but my favorite is the wild bees that it attracts to my garden. This plant is one that I add throughout my garden beds and in my large planters as its tall spiked flowers make quite a statement.
You can find them in blue, purple and white color variations with green foliage. Fertilize weekly and cut off the dead flower stalks to encourage flowering all season.
This page from The Spruce shows you ten varieties of salvia to explore.
Gazania (Treasure Flower)
Gazania is an annual in most regions and it is well loved for its bright flowers and hardy nature. It loves a hot and sunny spot and will do well in dryer soil. Its flowers are similar to a daisy, it is often referred to as an african daisy, and will bloom consistently through summer attracting many butterflies and pollinators to your garden.
Like most annuals, the gazania will perform best if you pluck off the dead flowers, called deadheading, to encourage new growth all summer long. These are one of my favorite, fuss free annuals to plant in your garden or put in pots to enjoy on your patio.
Most people don’t think about adding sunflowers to their garden, but these bright and bold flowers can make quite a statement along the back edge of a garden, on a fence line, or just sprinkled throughout.
Sunflowers, as the name would suggest, prefer a sunny location but I have grown them in part shade as well. Often I will have volunteer sunflowers appear through my property and garden from birds dropping them off during a flight after feeding.
You can find sunflowers in a range of heights from just a couple of feet, up to a giant 8 to 10 feet in height with flowers the size of a dinner plate. The colors usually are orange, yellow or red with slight variations and you can find varieties that will produce one flower per stalk or many flowers up the length of the stalk. Try something new and add some sunflower seeds to your garden! If you leave the seed heads in the garden over winter, your local birds will harvest them for you.
Another annual that doesn’t get enough credit for its beauty and purpose, is calendula. This annual (in most locations) is easy to grow from seed, will be happy in a sunny or part sun location and will produce many medium sized flowers in shades of orange, yellow or white.
Calendula also produces large, easy to collect seeds, so you can save them for the following spring to start again. The flowers attract lots of local pollinators and if you are feeling creative you can harvest the flowers to create oils and salves with or, since they are edible, you can add them to your salad for dinner.
Looking for more ideas for plants to add to the garden, check out my post on my favorite scented perennials!