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Our Favorite Annual Bedding Plants

Our Favorite Annual Bedding Plants

Bedding annuals are here, and we’re beyond ready to “grow” wild in our garden beds! Whether you’re looking to plant in full sun or part shade, here are our absolute all-time favorite annual plants to grace your beds and containers through spring and summer of 2021.

Best Annuals for Full, Hot Sun

Far be it for us to complain about the California sunshine, but full exposure to the summer sun can be too much of a good thing for some blooms. These full-sun-loving annual flowers take even the hottest, brightest conditions in stride and bloom all summer.

One of our favorite summer flowers, dahlias are native to Mexico and thrive in full, blazing sunshine. One of the easiest things to love about dahlias is how diverse they are, from smaller single-flowering blooms in soft white to massive dinner-plate-sized blooms in neon colors. Their range of shapes, shades, and sizes makes them highly adaptable to sunny garden beds of any size.

Not only are zinnias remarkably tolerant of intense heat and full sun, but it’s super easy to keep them in bloom all summer because they grow so darn fast! Like dahlias, zinnias come in just about every candy color other than blue and they can range dramatically in flower shape and height. However, no matter which cultivar you choose, you can count on quick growth and lots of flowers—zinnias will often mature from seed to flower in less than 60 days!

Also known as ‘globe amaranth,’ gomphrena are spectacular bedding plants that look simply incredible in mass plantings. Their colors and shapes make them resemble tall lollipops—but you won’t need to worry about these guys melting in the sun! In fact, gomphrena is at its most beautiful in full sun environments where it can show off all of its bright, ball-shaped blooms and sway in the summer breeze.

The petals and stamens of cleome, also known as spider flower, may look delicate—but they’re much tougher than they look! These remarkable plants boast some of the most beautiful fine textures of any plant on this list, thanks to their tall, graceful stems, slim leaves, and elegant florets. This annual flower is perfect for full sun areas and attracts butterflies to its stately blooms all summer long.

This summer-long stunner simply does not get the credit it deserves—its rose-like blooms, attractive ovate foliage, and long, fine stems all make it an absolute must-have in the full sun garden. Available in romantic shades like pink champagne, ivories, buttery yellows, and even blue varieties, it’s worth growing lisianthus if only for the knockout bouquets they’ll afford you throughout the season.

Best Shade-Tolerant Annuals

While planting for full sun can be a challenge, it can be just as tricky to find annuals that bloom in the shade and stay colorful all through the summer. These shade-tolerant options are great for areas that don’t enjoy all-day sunshine.

Many varieties of begonia, including tuberous, dragon wing, and wax begonia cultivars, are quite tolerant of a little shade and even fair quite well as houseplants. While these plants (which are actually tender perennials) shouldn’t be kept in deep shade, they retain plenty of gorgeous color even when planted in less-than-bright locations. They’re also famous for their long bloom times, brightening up those less-than-full-sun beds all throughout the summer and beyond.

A popular and versatile annual flower, impatiens perform beautifully just about anywhere—full sun or part shade, beds or containers—with continuous blooms all summer long. For a while, impatiens had a poor reputation for being susceptible to downy mildew, but new cultivars have been bred specifically for resistance against this disease. The latest varieties are strong, healthy, and feature show-stopping colors for your garden beds!

We absolutely adore these gorgeous landscape annuals, also referred to as wishbone flowers. With colors reminiscent of pansies and violas but better-suited to warmer seasons, these multi-tonal blooms are highly adaptable to both full sun and part shade, showing off their brightly contrasting petals and throats from summer all the way through the fall.

Best Annuals for Both Beds and Containers

We love a plant that can do it all! These annual beauties look just as at home in a sprawling garden bed as they do in a quaint hanging basket.

A classic that needs no introduction, the petunia’s dazzling trumpet-shaped blooms might be the most popular full-sun summer annuals of all time. Available in every color of the rainbow, including many multi-colored cultivars, petunias instantly liven up garden beds and containers of any size.

We’re convinced that all gardeners who love blue flowers make lobelia an annual staple in their summer gardens—they’re simply the perfect complement to any cool-toned, full-sun planting! Thanks to their fine texture and mounding habit, lobelia makes an excellent container filler as well as a superb ground cover to fill in sparse areas of your beds. They’re also available in other colors than classic blue—you’ll find them in purple, white, pink, and red.

A crowd-pleasing favorite, the ultra-floriferous verbena packs oodles of color into beds, baskets, or pots. Verbena is a large group of annual flowers, and its benefits vary from one cultivar to the next. Some varieties reach toward the sun, several grow full, bushy mounds, and others trail and cascade down—but just about all of them bloom robustly through spring, summer, and fall!

Also called moss rose, what portulacas lack in stature they make up for in dazzling interest. The full-yet-fine-textured succulent foliage contrasts all too beautifully with the vibrant paper-thin blooms, adding spectacular summer interest in full sun containers and garden beds.

Best Annuals for All-Summer Color

Changes in the season often lead to gaps in color as earlier plants fade, and late-season plants kick into gear. Keep these plants around for continuous color into the fall!

French Marigold:
French marigolds not only offer vibrant beauty all summer, but they’re also a fantastic companion flower for your vegetable garden thanks to the natural pest repellent in their blooms. Plant them in a full sun location, and they simply won’t stop blooming until frost!

The unique texture of ageratum, or flossflower, make them a fun addition to your landscape, either in mass plantings or interspersed with flowers in contrasting shades of sunny yellows and golds. Ageratum keeps its color and interest throughout the summer while attracting other warm-weather friends like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds!

Rarely does a foliage plant outshine a flower, but coleus is a strong exception. In an array of breathtaking tones, from glowing coppers to neon magentas and lime greens, coleus is the one plant you can truly rely on all season—even when your summer blooms have long faded away.

Need more inspiration?
Our nursery is brimming with thousands of other annuals to beautify your outdoor spaces this season. Visit us at Roger’s Gardens today to discover your new favorites for 2021!

To learn more about annuals vs perennials view: Gardening 101 Series | How to Use Annuals vs. Perennials with Lynn Hillman