When it comes to transforming your yard into a flowering paradise, few plants can match the work done by flowering annuals. Plant for plant, you’re going to get more out of your annual plants than you’ll get out of any other plants.
The best annuals for summer flowers are gerbera daisies, zinnias, asters, impatiens, and sweet sultans. Nasturtiums will add some edible blooms to your garden, but if you’re looking for vining flowers sweet peas and morning glory are the best plants for the job.
Let’s take a look at a few more flowers for your garden.
Gerbera dasies are – in my opinion – the best-looking flower that you can put into your garden. Their large, bright red flowers make them a gorgeous addition to your garden and will bloom from spring all the way through autumn (unless you live in a tropical area – in which case they’re more autumn and winter flowers).
They’re relatively compact and won’t sprawl out or start wandering like some more invasive plants will.
Zinnias are easy to grow and they come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes. They also have a long bloom time which makes them perfect for people who want to enjoy their garden all summer long.
Zinnias are easily available as pre-grown plants in garden centers, but if you want the full range of options, you’re going to need to grow them from seed.
Sunflowers come in both annual and perennial varieties, but if you want to grow the super big varieties, you’re going to be growing the annual sunflower.
Sunflowers are a great plant to grow if you have children and want to get them into gardening. The seeds are large, relatively easy to grow, and you can harvest them to eat afterward. Some of my fondest memories from my younger years are watching the sunflowers grow in my childhood home.
Lantana is a plant that is a perennial in the warmer regions (zones 8+), but almost everywhere else it is grown as an annual.
Lantana grows into a small bush and produces prodigious amounts of flowers that will either be yellow and red or pink and lavender – depending on which variety of lantana you get.
They are toxic to dogs but are only lethal in large amounts (when the leaves are eaten – green berries are more toxic), so dogs will often eat them to induce vomiting when they have an upset stomach.
Carnations are one of the most popular annuals – and for good reason. They produce neat little flowers that come in a wide variety of colors – including multi-colored flowers.
They also have varieties that are suitable for cutting that have slightly more complex-looking flowers, so chances are good that you can find a variety of carnations to suit your needs.
Poppy flowers are probably one of the most recognizable species of flowers you can find for your garden – likely due to their popularity with classic artists. These bright red flowers are a beautiful addition to your garden if you’re looking to add a splash of red.
Other varieties include the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) and the oriental poppy. My understanding is that the seeds from the red poppy (aka corn poppy) and opium poppy are edible, whereas the oriental poppy is toxic – but contact your local extension office before eating anything.
Cosmos are one of the classic flowers for a cottage-style garden and come in a wide variety of colors. The plant itself is very delicate looking and will make a nice contrast to the leaves of your other flowers as well.
If you’re looking for some extra color for your garden, cosmos are a good choice to pick.
Asters – most commonly grown in purple, but available in other colors – produce a ton of smaller flowers rather than producing a few big flowers. They aren’t going to be the interest piece of your garden, but if you’re looking to fill in areas with color, they are a good choice.
They will typically start blooming in late summer through autumn, so they will pick up your garden as some of the early flowering summer plants start to fade.
Celosia plants produce colorful flower spikes that set themselves apart from your other flowering plants. Depending on the variety you get, they can either stay under 6” high or get up to 3’, so they offer a lot of options to fill the space you need to be filled.
They make a good choice to add contrast to mounding plants such as petunias.
This flower is great for a sunny spot in the garden, and it will provide a nice pop of color when in bloom. It’s also drought resistant and easy to grow!
Ageratum will get up to 3’ tall or will stay only a few inches, depending on what variety you get, and will reward you with clusters of small, purple flowers.
These plants come in many different colors and leaf textures, so you’ll have plenty of options when deciding which ones work best with your garden design! You can also plant them indoors if you select one of the more shade-tolerant varieties of begonia.
Marigolds are one of the most popular flowers grown in the US and have a very recognizable yellow or orange bloom – depending on what plant you get.
Depending on whether you get pot, African, or french marigold, you will get flowers that are more or less ruffled or that look like normal flowers, so you can get a variety of looks even just from a patch of marigolds with no other flowers.
Pentas are small bushes that produce clusters of star-shaped white, pink, or red flowers. They are technically perennials, but even in zone 9b they’ll get beaten up pretty badly during most winters and will be outright killed every few winters, so they’re most often grown as annuals.
They take a few years to get big, so they’ll stay pretty compact if you’re growing them as an annual in a colder region.
Pansies are a distinct-looking French flower that has spots arranged in a way that almost looks like a face. This makes them a great choice for using on the border of your flower bed to provide a bit of interest to your garden.
In colder regions, pansies should be grown for spring and summer flowers, whereas in hotter areas they’ll be grown for fall and winter flowers and will be killed off by spring/summer heat.
Daisies come in a variety of sizes and colors, including whites, yellows, various shades of pink, and reds. While not all of them look as great as the gerbera daisy I mentioned above, they still have a lot of appeal to them and deserve a place in your garden.
They’ll typically bloom from late summer into autumn unless you live in a warmer climate and are growing them for winter blooms.
Vinca comes in both annual and perennial varieties, so you’ll have to check which one you’re purchasing at your local garden center. These flowers come in a variety of combinations of white, pink, and red as well as multi-colored combinations of those colors.
One thing I’d like to point out with this flower is that it produces a LOT of seeds, and if you grow one of these plants long enough for them to flower, you’ll be getting seedling vincas coming up for years afterward. I haven’t grown vincas in the past 5 years, and I still see new ones sprouting up at the edges of my flower beds.
Scarlet Pimpernel is a beautiful flowering plant that is highly valued for its pleasant orange flowers. It belongs to the genus Anagallis. It’s also called Poor man’s weatherglass and Shepherd’s Clock because of its habit of flowering only when the sun is shining.
Scarlet Pimpernel is an annual plant and it grows best in USDA hardiness zones 6-9. Scarlet Pimpernel can be grown as an annual or as a biennial depending on where it’s planted. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade, too.
Impatiens are an interesting group of flowers that produce showy, bright red, orange, and white flowers. Some varieties are more suited to full sun (such as the patented “Sunpatiens” variety) and others are able to be grown in part or full shade and still bloom.
Depending on the variety you get, some impatiens plants will spread their seeds by causing their seed pods to explode, propelling their seeds outwards from the plant. If you want a relatively easy-to-care-for flower that will improve the look of your flower bed, impatiens is one flower you should consider.
Petunias are a great flower to use when you need to fill a lot of space with brilliantly colored flowers. For example, if you have a 5’ area you need to cover, you can either get dozens of marigolds or you can get one Tidal Wave Petunia plant (which gets up to 22” high and 60” wide).
There are, of course, varieties with less spread, but whatever you’re looking for, petunias are a great option to go for when you need a lot of flowers and don’t have a lot of money to spend.
Also known as Million Bells or Mini Petunias, this is a trailing plant that has clusters of small, brightly colored flowers. Like the petunia, this is a great choice for a mounding plant that will produce prodigious amounts of summer flowers.
This plant gets up to 1’ tall and 2’ wide and will produce flowers the entire season with no need for dead-heading.
Crysanthemums – or mums for short – is another one of the most beautiful flowers you can grow, in my opinion. These beautiful plants are technically perennials, but due to bad breeding practices are more often grown as annuals than perennials.
Though mums are one of the traditional autumn flowers, they will also bloom in the summer if you don’t live in an area that’s too hot. (Living in a warmer climate, I’ve not had much luck with them, but don’t let that get you down. Plenty of people still grow them even as far down as Florida.)
There are also multiple different varieties you can get, some of which will work for cut flowers, so whatever you’re looking for, you’ll likely find in mums.
Cleome Spider Plant
Spider plant is a unique-looking flower that will produce white, pink, and purple blooms from the late summer to the early fall seasons. It is a bit hard to germinate – needing to be stratified for 4 weeks before it will start growing – but it will reward you with some great blooms for your garden.
It gets up to 40” tall, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing where to put it.
Dahlias are large, showy flowers with petals that range in color from white to pink to yellow. These flowers – like zinnias – are a flower with dozens of different varieties, most of which you have to grow from seed to be able to get.
Luckily, they’re very forgiving flowers, and will reward you with beautiful blooms that can get more than 12” across for a single flower! (Depending on the variety you pick.)
The Geranium is a flowering plant in the family of plants called “Pelargoniums.” Geraniums are very popular plants that are grown specifically for their attractive flowers.
Geraniums are easy to care for and can be grown indoors or outdoors. They are typically planted in pots with soil that has been enriched with peat moss, bark, and leaf mold. They should be watered enough to keep the soil moist but not wet.
There are more than 400 species of geraniums that come in a wide range of colors including white, pink, red, orange, yellow, purple, and lavender. Depending on which species you choose, you’ll get either an annual, biennial, or perennial plant.
Sweet peas are a beautiful (but not edible) addition to any garden that needs a few more vining plants. They produce beautiful white, pink, and purple flowers that will last from spring through fall.
They also produce a pleasant fragrance that will make your garden a joy to walk through.
Nasturtiums are an edible flower that produces yellow, red, orange, and purple flowers through out spring and summer.
They grow in a wide variety of sizes, so whether you want something that’s 1 or 10 feet tall, you can probably find what you’re looking for. (The taller ones are climbing varieties.)
Lisianthus, also known as Prarie Gentian or by its genus Eustoma, can produce pink, purple, white, blue, red, and yellow flowers (depending on the variety you get), but can be somewhat challenging to sow and grow.
Sweet alyssum is a great-looking ground-cover or hanging basket plant from the mustard family that produces a bunch of clusters of white, purple, pink, or gold flowers. It was originally thought to be able to treat rabies, which is how it got its name Alyssum, coming from the Greek word for rabies.
This Mediterranean native plant produces beautiful white, pink, lavender, and red flowers throughout the late summer and early autumn seasons.
It can grow in zones 1-12 but does get up to 36” tall, so it makes a nice background plant almost anywhere you have dirt to plant it.
Belladonna lilies are a member of the Amaryllis family that produces beautiful golden flowers as well as red, white, and multi-color flowers. They are technically perennials, but unless you take them in over the winter they’ll die off when it gets too cold.
Morning glory is a beautiful vine that produces flowers in a wide variety of colors – my favorite of which is the blue morning glory. If you’re looking for a vine to add some color to your garden, this is one of the few vining plants on this list for you to choose from, and it makes a great pick.
Dianthus are beautiful flowers that require little to no care. They are a great way to spruce up your home or garden without much effort.
Dianthus is a type of flower that is often referred to as the “Sweet William”. (Certain varieties, anyway.) They have a sweet scent and come in many colors, including red, pink, white, yellow, and purple. Dianthus can be grown indoors or out and does not need much attention at all.
The sweet sultan is a flowering plant that belongs to the genus of Amberboa. The sweet sultan has a long history of cultivation in its native middle east and Mediterranean regions, and it is grown in many parts of the world today because of its beautiful, fragrant flowers.
The sweet sultan can grow up to 1 meter (3 feet) tall and 1/3 meter (1 foot) wide. The flowers are usually pink, but they can also be red or white.