4 Best Annual Flowers

Written by Crystal
Updated: August 25, 2023
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No matter what the season may be, flowers bring joy. Their beauty is a sight to behold, and their fragrance is a delight to take in. What are the best annual flowers? We’ve put together this short guide to help you pick the most beautiful, fragrant flowers.

Annual flowers are plants that complete their life cycle in one year. They’re a popular choice for gardens because they can be planted in the spring and enjoyed all summer long.

Read on to learn about 4 stunning annual flowers for your garden.

1. Abronia: Trailing Flowers

Close up of yellow abronia flowers

Abronia flowers come in many colors and are great for flower beds and ground cover.

©iStock.com/Iryna Ustenko

First on our list of the best annual flowers, let’s look at abronia, the trailing plant. These annuals only grow to about six inches in height, but they make up for it with their dense, round-topped clusters of delicate blossoms. They make excellent cut flowers and last a long time in a vase.

Native to the West Coast, these are versatile plants. They can be used as low-growing edgings for borders, or as trailing and groundcover plants. And if you’re looking for a fragrant annual flower, look no further – abronia blossoms are delightfully scented.

Care Tips

Abronia are easy to care for – they prefer cool temperatures and dry soil and do best in full sun. They’re also quite drought-tolerant. If you live in a warmer climate, sow the seeds indoors in late winter or early spring. But if you’re in zones 9-10, you can plant them outdoors in the fall.

Once they’re outdoors, watch out for pests. Certain beetles, slugs, grubs, maggots, worms, and flies attack abronias. You can protect them with suitable plant soaps and remedies. You can also look for solutions that deter hungry animals, such as deer and rabbits.

2. California Poppy: The Secret Annual

California poppies in Los Padres National Forest 

Poppies are bright and cheerful annual flowers.

©iStock.com/GaryKavanagh

Sometimes mistaken for a short-lived perennial, poppies have tons of annual varieties. The best part is how fun they are to look at as they flourish in the sun. They definitely qualify as one of the best annual flowers.

One that’s perfect for adding color to your garden is the California poppy. These cheerful flowers are native to – you guessed it – California, but they grow well in other parts of the country, too.

California poppies come in a wide range of colors, from classic orange and yellow to deep red and purple. They’re easy to grow from seed, and they’ll self-sow readily if you let them. So if you plant them once, you’re likely to have them forever!

Care Tips

Poppies prefer full sun and well-drained nutrient-rich soil. If you live in a warm climate, sow the seeds in late fall or early winter. In colder climates, start them indoors about six weeks before the last frost date. Once they’ve sprouted, transplant them into the garden.

Do not overwater. Too much water can cause the flowers to fall off the plant. Just give them a deep watering once a week or so, and they should be happy.

If you’re looking for a low-maintenance annual flower that will brighten up your garden for years to come, try planting some California poppies. You’ll be glad you did!

3. Abutilon: The Tall Annual

Red Indian mallow Abutilon plant in garden.

Red Indian mallow Abutilon in a garden. Abutilon flowers are colorful additions to any garden, but they do not do well in the cold.

©iStock.com/HHelene

Did you want a tall, beautiful annual flower to add to your garden? Consider abutilon. With its wide variety of colors and ability to bloom year after year, it’s sure to add beauty and grace to any space.

Abutilon is a beautiful annual flowering plant that grows well in garden beds and borders. This tall annual flower can reach up to 4 feet in height, with elegant drooping branches and bell-shaped blossoms. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors, including salmon, white, rose, yellow, purple, and apricot. These pretty blossoms can measure up to 2.5 inches across.

This plant is not winter hardy, but it makes an excellent border plant or window box flower. It also does well in hanging baskets because its stems cascade over the edge of the pot.

Care Tips

Abutilon prefers moist, fertile soil and flourishes in light shade and full sun. Sow seeds 10 weeks before the last frost. Plant each seed individually in a small pot. When plants are 6 inches tall, they can be transplanted outdoors. However, don’t put them outside if night temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Space plants one foot apart when transplanting outdoors.

You can also root Abutilon cuttings in water or moist soil to create new plants. This is a great way to propagate your favorite varieties. If you live in an area with harsh winters, you can re-pot outdoor abutilons and bring them into the house during winter.

4. Calandrinia: The Sun Lover

Pink calendrinia flowers

There are about 150 species of Calandrinia. These plants are native to South America, Australia, and western North America.

©iStock.com/m-kojot

These sun-loving annuals only really open up on bright, cheery days. If you live in an area with cooler summers, you might get lucky and see them close their blossoms on overcast days.

Calandrinia plants are unique-looking annuals that hail from Chile. They can grow to be about 2 feet tall and have cup-like rose-colored blossoms. The flowers are about 2 inches across with long thin red systems and pointed leaves.

Care Tips

Calandrinia is sometimes called rock purslane or red maids. These annuals do well in average soil. They can thrive in hot gardens in direct sunlight. There’s a small variety of calandrinias that do well in rock gardens. They also do well in window boxes and are sometimes used as edgings.

To grow calandrinia or red maids, start seeds indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil and press them gently into the soil. Keep the soil moist but not wet, and in a few weeks, you should see sprouts. Once they have sprouted, transplant them to the garden, and enjoy watching them flourish. Ah, the joy of gardening.

Summary of Four Best Annual Flowers

Plant these flowers for a summer of beauty:

RankAnnual Flower
1Abronia: Trailing Flowers
2California Poppy: The Secret Annual
3Abutilon: The Tall Annual
4Calandrinia: The Sun Lover

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/User10095428_393


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About the Author

Crystal is a dedicated writer at A-Z Animals, focusing on topics related to mammals, insects, and travel. With over a decade of experience in the world of research and writing, she also fulfills the role of a skilled video and audio engineer. Residing in sunny Florida, alligators are Crystal's favorite animal.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Gardener's Supply Company, Available here: https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/growing-annual-flowers/5070.html#:~:text=Strictly%20speaking%2C%20an%20annual%20plant,a%20short%20span%20of%20time.
  2. Botanical Interests, Available here: https://www.botanicalinterests.com/category/Annual-Flowers
  3. The National Gardening Association Learning Library, Available here: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/3602/Add-Color-with-Annual-Flowers/
  4. The National Gardening Association Learning Library, Available here: https://garden.org/learn/articles/view/3226/Its-Easy-to-Garden-with-Wildflowers/