Easy Annual Plants That Bloom All Summer Long

Whether your garden is a large country plot or a group of containers on a city balcony, easy-to-grow annuals can add a burst of color wherever you need it.

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Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

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Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

Photo By: Costa Farms

Photo By: Ball Horticultural Company

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Tuberous Begonias

These are actually tender perennials typically grown as annuals. The upright forms make wonderful bedding plants; the pendulous ones look magnificent in hanging pots. The tubers should be planted in spring in rich soil or potting medium, with the concave side up and just the bottom half of the tuber buried. Once growth begins, apply 22-14-14 fertilizer every three weeks until flower buds begin to form. At that time, switch to 0-10-10 fertilizer, applied on the same schedule. Pick off flowers as they fade. When the plants begin to turn yellow in fall, withhold water. When the tops are completely dry, dig the tubers from the soil, and remove the tops. Dry them in the sun for a few days, then dust the tubers with sulfur powder or another fungicide to prevent rot. Store in paper containers in a cool, dry, dark place until planting time in spring.

Petunias

Supertunia 'Mulberry Charm', shown here, is a petunia hybrid. Petunias are tender perennials in USDA Zones 9-11, but many gardeners grow them as annuals. They tolerate heat and bloom throughout the growing season, filling containers, beds and borders with color. While petunias will grow in partial shade, they'll produce more blooms in full sun. Give them regular waterings and apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer as directed on your product's label. Remove the flowers as they fade to encourage more blooms.

Impatiens Walleriana

Also known as busy Lizzie, this subshrubby perennial is usually grown as an annual. It requires filtered light or shade and fast-draining soil rich in organic matter. If you plant from nursery six-packs, loosen the root balls gently, then place each plant in fresh potting soil, making sure you don't bury the crown. Water well after planting, and wait for the top 2" of soil to dry before watering again. Apply no fertilizer until the plants begin to grow; then feed them every two weeks with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Impatiens make good container or bedding plants.

New Guinea Impatiens

New Guinea impatiens are a group of hybrids prized for their dramatic foliage and bright flowers. Often grown as annuals, they can be planted in sunny spots, unlike Impatiens walleriana, but their leaves and flowers can burn in full sun. If you live in a hot climate, give the plants 4-6 hours of sun each day, or grow them in a spot that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and apply a slow-release, granular fertilizer as directed on the product label.

Geraniums

Most Pelargoniums, or geraniums, are perennials grown as annuals in cold-winter climates. Most prefer full sun, but in hot climates afternoon shade is appreciated. Keep plants on the dry side. Pelargoniums perform best in areas with warm, dry days and cool nights. They may be grown outdoors year-round in mild California climates. Elsewhere they're popular bedding, container or indoor plants. Move plants indoors before cold weather begins, or take cuttings for next year. For best results indoors, set near a sunny window. Pelargoniums require rich, fast-draining soil and frequent pinching back to keep plants bushy. They are subject to infestation of white fly, spider mites and geranium bud worm. Fertilize during active growth to increase flower production.

Marigolds

Marigolds are easy, dependable annuals that require full sun and well-drained soil. Many types are available, ranging in size from a few inches to a few feet in height. Marigolds come in white, yellow, red, orange and combinations of those colors. Many believe that marigolds help repel insect pests, so they're often planted in and around vegetable patches.

Calibrachoas

Also called Million Bells, calibrachoas look like small petunias. Winter hardy in Zones 9-11, they're usually grown as annuals in hanging baskets and containers and be used as ground covers in small areas. Give them moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic material. They like full sun but may last longer if given light shade in regions with hot summers. Feed them with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer as indicated on your product, and water regularly. Containers may need extra water as the temperatures heat up. While it's not necessary to remove the faded flowers, pinch the plants to keep them bushy. Show here: Superbells Yellow.

Zinnias

Easy-care zinnias are annuals that come in a variety of colors and forms. Like other zinnias, 'Double Zahara Raspberry Ripple', shown here, needs sun and well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Keep the plants moist but not soggy; once they're established, they can tolerate some drought. Remove spent flowers to encourage more blooms, and feed with a liquid blossom-booster every other week or as directed on your product.

Ageratum

You can find ageratums in blue, white, violet or pink. The plants are usually grown as annuals and can take full sun to light shade. They're happy in almost any soil as long as it drains easily. Use them in containers or beds and borders and water regularly until the plants are established. Pinch back the growing tips to keep your plants bushy, and remove the flowers when they fade. Shown here: Ageratum 'High Tide Blue'.

Vincas

Vincas like 'Pacifica XP Halo Mix' are typically grown as annuals. These low-maintenance butterfly magnets add color to borders, beds and containers. If given full sun and regular watering, they'll bloom profusely until frost. Fertilize the plants every other week; they'll grow in almost any soil that drains easily. Vincas are self-cleaning, so you don't have to pick off the spent flowers.

Mandevillas

Give your deck or landscape a tropical touch with mandevillas, tender perennials usually grown as annuals. The plants need sandy, well-draining soil with lots of organic matter and filtered or indirect sunlight (full sun can burn them). Mandevillas are vining plants, so pinch the growing tips to keep them bushy and give them a trellis or other support. Feed your mandevillas with a high phosphorus, water-soluble fertilizer every other week. Mandevilla 'Sun Parasol Crimson' is shown here.

Scaevolas

Also called fan flowers, scaevolas are usually grown as annuals. They thrive in moderately fertile soil mixed with plenty of humus and can take full sun to light shade. Keep the plants watered, and once they're established, they can tolerate heat and some drought. Look for scaevolas with white, pink or blue flowers, and use them in containers that allow their bloom-studded stems to trail. Butterflies are drawn to them, but deer typically leave them alone. This variety is 'Brilliant'.

Pentas

Sun-loving pentas, invite butterflies and hummingbirds to summer gardens. Although they may survive the winter in very warm regions, most gardeners grow them as annuals. The flowers are available in white, red, pink, lavender and purple and grow in almost any well-drained soil. They'll benefit from a monthly feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer. Use them to add bright color to containers, beds and borders.

Portulaca

Portulacas, also known as moss rose flowers and purslane, are annuals that thrive in full sun and tolerate dry growing conditions. They need well-drained soil and benefit from a light application of granular fertilizer when new growth appears. Their trailing stems that make them ideal for tall containers and hanging baskets and for use as a groundcover. Like 'Happy Mix', shown here, the flowers come in a variety of colors.

Salvias

Heat-tolerant salvias (Salvia splendens) are often used as annuals, although they're hardy in USDA Zones 10-11. While they'll grow in part sun, the plants produce more and brighter flowers if given full sun. Water them regularly and feed your salvias weekly or bi-weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer, or apply a slow-release granular fertilizer as directed on the package. Watch for butterflies and hummingbirds to visit the blooms, which are available in white, red, orange, pink, salmon, purple and burgundy. Shown here: 'Ablazin' Tabasco'.

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