25 Best annual plants to grow in spring and autumn

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Therapeutic and relaxing – that’s what gardening has become for some people. Many have started to grow their own plants and vegetables, and it doesn’t seem like its popularity will be dying down anytime soon. If you’re an aspiring gardener and are looking for the best annual plants to grow, read on!  

What are annual flowering plants? 

Annuals are plants that are easy to grow, and they flower really fast! They finish their life cycle within one growing season, which means an annual’s roots, stems, and leaves die within only one year. Annuals are relatively cheaper than their counterpart, perennials, which live for three or more years.

See also: Perennial, annual, and biennial plants: How are they different?

What are hardy annuals, half-hardy annuals, and tender annuals? 

You’ve probably seen these terms on gardening websites, too. Basically, hardy annual flowers grow well outdoors and can handle cold temperatures. They grow best when planted directly in the ground (not in containers). Half-hardy annuals, on the other hand, can survive a few cold nights but should not be directly exposed to frost. Tender annuals, aka summer annuals, thrive in the heat.   

Here’s a quick guide to when you should sow annual flower seeds:  

Annual flowers and plants to sow in spring

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, this season is suitable for planting hardy annuals, which can tolerate light frost. If you prefer to plant half-hardy annuals, they should be grown under glass or on a windowsill in late spring. 


1. Godetia 

pink godetia flowers

This slender, annual flowering plant produces pretty funnel-shaped pink and white blossoms! Godetia is now part of the genus Clarkia as an ode to expeditioner William Clark. He discovered them in the alpine forests of California and the Pacific Northwest, harvesting their seeds and sharing them with the rest of the world.


2. Baby’s breath 

baby's breath in full bloom

Do you want star-shaped flowers in white or pink? When it comes to baby’s breath, it’s best to cut back after flowering to encourage a second rush of flowers. 


3. Night-scented stock

night-scented stock in bloom

This plant's small and pale flowers have a pleasing scent, which is why it's commonly grown in containers placed near windows and doors. Night-scented stock can provide you with daily aromatherapy. 


4. Corn cockle

corn cockle flowers

This upright annual has five-petaled purple flowers, which are particularly attractive to bees. Corn cockle petals are usually more than two inches long and have notable dots or lines that guide pollinators to the center of the flower.


5. Amaranth or love-lies-bleeding

Amaranthus caudatus flowers, also known as love lies bleeding

This plant has “tassels” made up of tiny crimson or purple flowers that cascade to the ground. The flower’s tassels show up in the middle of summer and continue growing until the first frost.

See also: 25 Best perennial plants that bloom in the UK


6. Poached egg plant 

flowering poached egg plants

Made up of bowl-shaped yellow flowers with white tips, the poached egg plant is also known as “meadow foam”! Its genus, Limnanthes douglasii, refers to a Scottish botanist named David Douglas. He discovered the poached egg plant while visiting America to collect new flowers to enrich British gardens.


7. Fairy bouquet group 

Linaria maroccana

Are you looking for flowers that will add that much-needed splash of colour to your garden? The Linaria maroccana, aka fairy bouquet group, blooms in the summer, with colours ranging from orange, pink, white, and yellow. 


8. Sunflower valentine 

sunflowers at dusk

We’re all familiar with this bright yellow flower. Sunflowers are best planted during spring and are sure to flower well in the summer.


9. Blue bedder 

delicate blue bedder flowers

This violet-blue flower grows well outdoors under full sun! As the plant ages, its petals gradually become magenta or pink. Blue bedders are very attractive to bees and other pollinating creatures, and you can grow them in sunny places with moderately fertile soil.


10. Nasturtium

red nasturtium flowers

Nasturtiums come in cream, yellow, orange, and red flowers and are best planted from March to May. They produce edible flowers, too.


11. Mardi Gras 

yellow and red Mardi Gras flowers

These have abundant, star-shaped flowers in yellow and red. The Mardi Gras plant flowers for at least two months, so you’ll get to enjoy these one-of-a-kind buds for quite a long time.   


12. Bells of Ireland

beautiful bells of Ireland flowers

Also known as the Irish bell flower, this plant produces toothed leaves and emerald green bells for its flowers. You can use the plant for fresh or dried flower arrangements since it lasts long even after you cut it.


13. Annual clary sage

annual clary sage

Unlike most plants, the annual clary sage is more known for its colourful purple, pink, or white leaves, not its flowers. Just look how pretty the leaves are!

Annual flowers and plants to sow in autumn  

Hardy annuals are also ideal to plant in autumn. They will flower earlier than those sown in the spring! According to the Royal Horticultural Society, some hardy plants will need to be protected with cloches or horticultural fleece if there are forecasts of hard frost. Here’s a list of hardy annual seeds you can choose from: 

 

14. White laceflower

Orlaya grandiflora with green leaves

Also known as Orlaya grandiflora, these annuals are especially attractive to insects for pollination. Each stem usually has clusters of eight to ten flowers, resulting in a lace-like pattern. The plant’s blooming period starts in summer and ends at the first frost.


15. Bishop’s weed 

bishop's weed thriving in a garden

If you’re fond of small, compound flowers, this is the annual plant for you! It can grow very quickly and fill up confined spaces. If you don’t grow it strategically, the “weed” part of its name might become a reality.


16. Love-in-a-mist 

love-in-a-mist flowers

Also known as “Miss Jekyll,” this annual plant produces pretty sky blue flowers. Also, its long-lasting seed pods resemble small fairy lanterns, evoking feelings of whimsy and wonder.


17. Greater quaking grass

greater quaking grass

Not all annual plants in your garden have to be flowers. Take the quaking grass, for example. The RHS tells us that it forms “a tuft of flat, linear leaves, with panicles of large, flat, ovate, pale yellow spikelets which dangle from slender branches.” 

 

18. Bachelor’s button

cornflowers in full bloom

To make these deep blue flowers look even brighter, it’s a good idea to plant them next to marigolds or poppies. Bachelor’s buttons are also called cornflowers because they’re abundant in European cornfields. Their long-lasting stems make them perfect for cut flower arrangements.


19. Honesty 

honesty flowers in bloom

Honesty produces heart-shaped leaves and purple flowers. It’s also a plant that readily self-seeds. Just watch out for insect damage; the green caterpillars of orange-tipped butterflies love honesty.   


20. Opium poppy 

opium poppy in bloom

If you’re in need of a dramatic flower, the opium poppy is here for you. It produces wide flowers with large purple, pink, red, or white petals! You can dry its seeds and use them when baking pastries or making floral arrangements.


21. Ladybird poppy 

ladybird poppy flowers

This plant has crimson flowers with large black spots, which is why it's aptly named after a lookalike insect! Ladybird poppies grow in deep, fertile soil under full sun and are hardy border plants that can also grow in flower beds. 


22. Baby blue eyes 

blooming baby blue eyes

This is a low-growing plant that produces flowers with six curved petals, which could be white or soft blue in colour. Just looking at baby blue eyes has a calming effect.


23. Larkspur 

larkspur flowers

Another common name for it is the “annual delphinium,” and it can be planted in pots and containers or directly in your flower bed. The plant’s wonderful sky or navy blue blossoms make it popular among gardeners and homeowners alike. 


24. Honeywort purpurascens

honeywort flowers

Are you looking for plants with unusually shaped flowers? Honeywort produces blue-green leaves alongside purple-blue tubular flowers inside blue bracts. The plants are a favourite among bees! 


25. Foxtail barley

foxtail barley

This ornamental grass has long green spikelets, which usually have hints of red at their tips. Foxtail barely is also low-maintenance, easily growing in sunny areas with well-drained soil.

Beautify your garden with annual plants

In the end, figuring out what to plant in your garden can be difficult. But don’t worry. These days, you can get your choice of plants and other essential gardening materials delivered straight to your doorstep. You can also opt to have a professional take care of your repotting and landscaping needs. Post a task on our platform today! 

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