If you're like most people with a gardening interest, you want bright, colorful flowers during warmer weather and the good news is, it's extremely easy. In this article we want to tell you about the 6 best annuals for sun, especially if you're a beginner, and how you can get that professional look in your gardens by using them.
As you probably know, our list of the 6 best annuals for sun is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more out there. However, we wanted to cover these 6 particularly for several reasons.
- They are easy to grow, so beginners will love them.
- Their flowers are bright and beautiful and will add color to any garden.
- They are some of the most common plants used today.
Because they are so common, you've surely seen them in your travels. You may even know their names. What you might not know though, is the details of each one, how they grow, how much water they need, how to maintain them, etc. This is what we want to cover here.
An Introduction To The Best Annuals For Sun
First, let's state the obvious - most annuals do best in full sun. Although some will do OK in partial shade, there's no denying that the majority of annuals grow best in full sun. The good news is if you have a shade garden, there are some choices that will give you color and interest.
Ask The Pros Landscape Consulting – Answering Your Urgent Questions
That will be covered in another article. For now, we'll focus on these 6 best annuals for sun.
As you drive around your area and you notice gardens that are planted by professionals, you'll observe a lot of the same plants being used. Pros use these plants because they give instant results and need very little, if any, maintenance after planting.
Those characteristics also make them good choices for you if you're a beginning gardener or want pretty flowers but don't have the time to maintain them.
There are a wide variety of annuals to plant in full sun. All of the choices we mention below are good for beginning gardeners because they all do well very little or no care at all. You'll just need to make sure you're garden is prepared with good soil amendments or compost, and that you use our recommended slow release fertilzer when planting.
The only thing they will require after planting is water, so if there is a drought and you haven't had rain in a while, you'll need to water them. Wanna know how much water. Read our article to find out.
The good news is that in most weather, annuals planted in the ground will not need hand watering all that often. However, if it's hot, over 90 degrees and there's been no rain for days, you'll want to give plants a drink. See our article on how to water your garden for more details.
If you're an aspiring gardener you may be familiar with many of these plants. The fun thing is you can start with these common plants and as time passes, gradually get to know other less common ones and experiment with them as well. In addition, each plant comes in many varieties, some looking very different from each other. Another way to experiement over time is to try these other varieties. We'll be covering the less common ones in other articles.
All of the annuals listed below can be planted in spring after the threat of frost is over, and last until the first frost of fall. This means the flowering continues all season!
The Top 6 Best Annuals For Sun - Our Subjective List
There are several varieties of begonias. However here, we're talking about"wax begonias," called this because of their shiny leaves. They are often called bedding begonias because unlike other varieties, this variety is the best choice for flower beds because of their growing habits.
They grow short - 6-8 inches tall - and in mounded form. If you plant them in large groups, they will often grow together in a big mound of colorful flowers.
Wax begonias come with green or deep red foliage, which will give your garden that tropical vibe! Flowers tend to be small but there are a lot of them on each plant. They come in red, pink or white. Large groupings typically look best planted with one color and style per group - a planting technique which gives the most impact.
There are a wide variety of begonias out there, some looking quite different from one another. Some look so different you'll wonder if they are begonias at all. One is the "Dragon Wing Begonia." This variety does best in filtered light, and does great in pots or hanging baskets on a porch. So if you're looking for a showy plant for your porch, choose this.
Geraniums are one of the best annuals for sun because they thrive in hot sunny weather and will tolerate drought fairly well. Large beautiful blooms will be there from early summer until frost. Some colors are so vibrant they seem to glow!
In warmer climates they would be considered a perennial but in most areas they are an annual. They won't survive a frost, so if you live in an area that get's cold weather, you'll need to treat them as an annual.
You can also overwinter geraniums by digging them up and bringing them in during the cold winter months and putting them back out in spring.
For continuous blooms it helps to "dead head" the flowers. Just pinch off the spent blooms where they meet the stems. This will send energy back to the plant and produce new blooms quicker. However, if you don't have time to deadhead, it's OK. They will still re-bloom, although it might take a little longer and the dead blooms will not be all that attractive.
When you're in your local garden center, look for "Zonal Geraniums" (pictured), which are a particular favorite of ours. These are different than "seed geraniums" which are propogated from seeds as the name implies.
Seed geranius grow smaller with more numerous but much smaller flowers. Zonal geraniums are propogated from cuttings and have much larger blooms that are bigger and bolder than the seed variety . Zonal geranium flowers are just spectacular!
You can use geraniums as a bedding plant in groups, or a border or accent plant. We know of pro designed gardens where zonal geraniums are used in large groups. This makes for a spectacular garden but the choice is up to you.
Petunias are another great annual for use in sun gardens. They are super easy to grow and require very little care. Plus they put on a spectaular show and as a bonus - are very fragrent.
Petunias tend to droop and trail downward, making them an excellent choice for hanging baskets and pots but you can also use them in gardens.
These plants come an a wide variety of colors, from various shades of purple, to white, pink, and varigated colors as well. Each year it seems more and more varities of flower colors are cultivated and brought to market. We love browsing the petunia isles to find out they new plants for the year. There are, literally, hundreds of different varieties.
Like geraniums above, petunias need dead heading for more frequent blooms. Just pinch off the spent flowers where they meet the stems.
Petunnias have a trumpet shaped flower that tends to attract humingbirds as well, which is an added benefit if you plant them in hanging pots or baskets on a deck or patio.
A favorite variety of petunia we like is called the "wave petunia." We use these as a ground cover in gardens because they spread outwards in numerous stems, each stem producing many blooms. Pick up a pot of wave pentunias and compare them to the regular ones and you'll see the difference.
Petunias In Window Box
Image Of Wave Petunias
A common plant in our growing zone, blue agoratum is often used in garden borders and should be considered in a group planting. It's rarely used as a stand alone plant.
It's flower color is a light sky blue to purple-ish blue, which is very uncommon in the flower world and therefore, makes it stand out.
Although it comes in other colors, we've not found those to be widely available. Hence, the word "blue" in the name.
It grows 1-2 feet and in mounds, with the blue flowers very numerous over the entire plant. This makes the foliage an afterthought and not part of the look of the plant. We love the flowers themselves.
Plant this in full sun only, especially in northern climates. In the south, which tends to be hotter, a partial shade garden would work. We've tried it in partial shade gardens here in our planting zone of 6 and it has never done well.
The good news is blue agoratum needs no care at all after planting, which makes it an excellent choice.
Vinca is a gorgeous annual that has a similar flower to impatiens. However, unlike impatiens, which like shade, vinca is definately a sun plant. If you try a garden that's in parial shade, they may survive but be prepared for less blooming.
We are not talking about vinca vine which is, as the same says, a ground cover vine. Don't mistake the 2. We're talking about the summer flowering annual, here, which is totally different.
The Vinca flowers are unique because some have different colored centers, which makes them stand out as vinca. See the image above for an example of this flower.
Vinca is also popular with professionals because, like begonias, it's often used in large groupings, which makes for a massive showing of color.
Vinca is another plant that needs no care at all after planting. Once in the ground, if conditions are good, it will thrive.
When talking about the best annuals for sun, we couldn't forget the much loved pansy.
Here in our growing zone, pansies are considered a fall annual. They are planted in the fall, replacing the summer annuals that will die at the first frost. You see, pansies don't die when cold sets in. They actually overwinter - even in the snow - and rebloom in the spring, or during the winter if temperatures are above degrees.
The reason they do well in the fall and spring is because pansies do not like summer heat. They do like full sun however, as long as the temperatures stay moderate. Once hot weather arrives, they get leggy and straggly.
This is why in the fall you'll often see professionals replacing summer full sun annuals with pansies. Then, come spring, they bloom early and continue until the weather gets hot. So, in May or June they're replaced by summer annuals. And the cycle continues year after year.
Fall pansies - Sept. through May.
Summer Annuals - May through Sept.
Pansies come in a wide variety of colors. Some flowers are multicolored, with the dark colors resembling faces. This is why the pansy plant has been known as the flower with the faces.
The Best Annuals For Sun - The Rest Of The List
The previous list of the best annuals for sun is indeed a list of our top picks for easy plants to grow and maintain. We know that any list like this is subjective, and we know we've left a lot out.
However, if you'e a beginning gardener, it may be a good place to start. But - and we say with PASSION - that's only the start. Once you're on the journey, we hope you'll be enthralled and want to continue on the path to garden mastery by experimenting with other plants over time.
By all means, we'd love to hear your comments below.