As soon as the ground is workable, it's time to start planting flowers. Some of these will bloom quickly, giving the landscape and garden early-season color. Others, though, we plant for later blooms because having bright and beautiful flowers all season is one of the best things about growing flowers in the first place.
This list is our top five annual flowers, though it is tough to narrow it down. There are so many phenomenal varieties out there. These flowers, though, comprise a range of colors and bloom times that keep the garden alive and bright throughout the growing season.
Dwarf Pink Sweet Alyssum Seeds
There is so much about these flowers that we love, but most of all, it is their sweet, sweet scent. When in bloom, sweet alyssum flowers smell remarkably like honey, turning the garden into a fragrant delight.
Sweet alyssum flowers are also wonderful, delicate, and small. They grow in dense clusters on branched stems, almost obscuring the foliage when in full bloom. And they bloom throughout the seasons and will grow year-round in areas that don't have frosts. Sweet alyssum flowers usually are light pink, purple, or white.
Sweet alyssum plants are low-growing, rarely getting to more than 12" tall. This flower is often planted as ground cover or filler. It grows well in containers, too. The plants are heat and drought-resistant but grow best in partial shade.
Cosmos Daydream Seeds
The brilliantly bright and colorful cosmos blooms are impossible to ignore. They always cheer up the landscape with their abundance and vibrancy. Cosmos flowers are cup-shaped with eight notched petals and a bright-yellow center stamen.
Cosmos flowers grow atop tall, spindly stems, often 3-5 feet tall. When planted in groups, the flower stalks sway in the wind creating beautiful waves of color. Cosmos bloom 60-90 days after planting, making them an early-summer flower. After the flowers die, deadhead the spent blooms to encourage more flowering.
In addition to their striking beauty, Cosmos also are widely beloved by
pollinators, including the Monarch butterfly. By planting cosmos, you're not only adding color to enhance your garden, but you're also attracting more pollinators and beneficial insects, which will improve the landscape. Cosmos are ideal flowers for a butterfly garden.
Because they grow so tall, Cosmos are not a good choice for container gardening.
Purple Chinese Houses
Purple Chinese Houses Seeds
This annual flower with pagoda-shaped blooms is unique, adding not just color but also interest and dimension to the garden. Chinese Houses are native to California and widely distributed there.
Purple Chinese House flowers grow in whorls around the stem, decreasing in diameter as they go up. This is what gives them their common name. The top lips of the flowers are white or lilac, while the lower lips are dark-purple or violet. This contrast in colors only adds to the intrigue of Purple Chinese Houses.
The flowers average 12-24" tall and wide and bloom from late spring through summer. The season can be extended by deadheading the flowers after the first bloom. Chinese Purple Houses look especially fabulous planted en masse.
They are a host for spring azure and checkerspot butterflies and attract many other butterflies, bees, and pollinators.
Royal Sweet Pea Mix Seeds
Brightly colored flowers with a honey orange jasmine scent that fills the garden – yes, please! Sweet peas are delicate, climbing plants with pea-shaped blooms that are pleasing to the eyes and senses. They will climb fences, poles, and over arbors. Sweet peas also look stunning growing in containers and cascading over the sides.
Sweet peas have been cultivated since the 19th century, and there are numerous cultivars with a wide range of colors and fragrance intensity. Many cultivars now feature bi-color arrangements that are simply breathtaking. The blooms emerge prolifically in mid-summer and continue to light up the landscape for several weeks.
Double Dark Salmon Clarkia Seeds
The four-petaled purple flowers of Elegant Clarkia are delicate and unique. Each petal is separate and expands outwards, making the bright white center stamen accessible to all the pollinators. The petals look like paddles, somewhat triangular or diamond-shaped.
Clarkia flowers are native to western North America, and the elegant clarkia is from California. It is a wildflower beloved by native bees, especially specialist species in its native habitat. Butterflies and hummingbirds also appreciate this showy flower.
This flower species grows 18-36 inches tall, and the blooms emerge atop slender, reddish stems in early to late summer. They're a hardy species, growing in full sun or partial shade and tolerant of many soils. They don't do well in excessive heat or humidity, though.