Annual Flowers: Selecting the Right Ones for Your Garden

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Going to a garden center this time of year can be an overwhelming sensory experience.

The colors, sizes and types of plants can create a sense of awe and amazement as well as indecision- which annual flowers will do well in my yard?

This is article will answer that question and enable you to purchase and grow annual flowers that will bring you pleasure and beauty all season long.

Annual Flower Fuchsia growing in Hanging Basket
Fuchsia- Great for Shade

What are Annual Flowers?

One of the main groups of plants you will find at a garden center in spring are annuals.

These are plants that have a one-year life-span.

They will not survive if temperatures go below freezing and will die if exposed to frost, so in colder climates they are generally planted in mid-May (may vary depending on your location and the type of weather year) and live until the first frost of fall.

This is a large category of plants and includes petunias, marigolds, begonias and hundreds of other flowers.

They are available to plant in the ground, in hanging baskets and containers to decorate patios and decks.

Annuals are prolific bloomers and can make your landscape come alive with vibrant with color.


How to Select the Right Annual Flowers for Your Landscape

Really there are two basic types of annuals- those that like mostly sunny areas and those that prefer mostly shade.

One of the keys to successful gardening is to put plants in an environment in which they will thrive.

Therefore, before you go to the garden center, take a moment to look at your yard.

Note that if the leaves haven’t come out on the trees, your yard may seem sunnier than it really is.

Here are a few generalizations, to get you started:

  • South and west facing gardens: Generally gets 6+ hours of sun each day- considered full sun unless you have trees or buildings that would keep it shady.
  • East facing gardens: Generally gets 4-6 hours of sun each day- considered partly sunny unless you have trees or buildings that would provide more shade.
  • North facing gardens: Generally considered mostly shady with less than 4 hours of direct sun each day.


annual Flowers Geraniums Growing in Window Boxes against shutters
Geraniums Growing in Window Boxes

There are lots of exceptions to this rule and my yard is one of them.

My backyard faces east but we have a lot of large trees that provide shade most of the day.

Therefore, I plant annuals that prefer the shade.

I may squeak in a sun-loving plant, but they never perform as well as I would like.

If you are planting in a flower bed, I would suggest measuring the length and width of the planting area as this will help you determine how many plants you will need.

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Garden Centers Make it Easy

Most garden centers do a great job displaying sun-loving annuals together and separating them from those that are shade-loving.

In addition, plants have either tags, signs or a description printed on the pot that provides their sun/shade needs as well as how far apart to plant.

If you have any concerns finding annuals that will work for your environment, ask someone at your local garden center.

They have experience in the local climate and will be happy to share their expertise with you.

They want you to be a successful gardener!

annual flower Petunia Hanging Basket on side of white home
Petunias- Great for Hanging Baskets and Full Sun

Here are some of my favorite, easy-to-grow annuals for beginners:

Easy-to-Grow Annuals for Sun:            







Easy-to-Grow Annuals for Shade:


Impatiens (there are new varieties that can do well in a partly sunny location)


Coleus  (there are new varieties that can do well in a partly sunny location)


Now that you know which annual flowers are best for your yard, click here to read how to plant them!

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