(Plus One Honorable Mention!)
When it comes to your garden, you want plants that don’t just look amazing, but that has amazing staying power as well. That means the first step in your gardening journey is to know what growing zone you live in, and which plants do best in your area. In zone 7, the best annuals for a well-rounded garden are impatients, ornamental kale and cabbages, dianthus, and violas. These plants are sturdy, easy to plant and care for, and look great all season long.
Also, we’ve included an honorable mention that isn’t technically an annual, but that deserves consideration for its versatility and beauty!
What Are Plant Zones?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed and maintains the Plant Hardiness Map. This map splits into 13 Zones to aid growers in selecting plants that thrive well in their area. These zones are determined by the lowest average winter temperatures like a weather map. Each of the 13 Zones is split as well. For example, in Zone 7 you will see Zone 7a or 7b. This is to indicate whether a plant grows best in the northern or southern part of the area.
Zone 7 locations have average temperatures that fall between 0-5 degrees Fahrenheit in 7a or between 5-10 degrees in 7b.
What Is An Annual Plant?
There are two basic types of plants or flowers commonly grown in a garden, annuals, and perennials. An annual plant or flower blooms for one growing season. Perennials are plants that continue to come back during their growing season year after year. That means that any annual plants or flowers placed in your garden will need to be replaced every year. In some cases, plants may be classified as perennial but are more popularly used as annual. Additionally, some plants and flowers are considered annuals in some Zones but may be classified as perennial in warmer Zones.
Best Zone 7 Annuals Honorable Mention: Chrysanthemum
Okay, so mums are not actually classified as an annual plant by most horticulture experts. However, members of the chrysanthemum family are commonly grouped with annuals for gardening due to their limited window of blooming time, between late summer to early winter depending on the type. In Zone 7, garden mums are an excellent choice if you need a hardy flower that can handle an unexpected frost.
Chrysanthemum plants can grow up to 36 inches high and produce showy and distinctive blooms in an array of yellows and reds. Even once the blooming season is done, the cut flowers can be dried and kept for decorating your home!
Best Zone 7 Annuals For Foliage: Ornamental Cabbage And Kale
Flowers alone just aren’t enough to make a truly spectacular garden, which is where ornamental greenery comes in. This is especially true in Zone 7 locations, where that greenery can carry you through into the colder months. Cabbage and kale aren’t often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about an ornamental plant, but they really should! Ornamental varieties of these plants come in an array of colors and unique shapes that add a real punch to florals in any garden. Growing to around 12 inches high, ornamental cabbage and kale grow well in containers and beds. Plus, these are cold hardy plants that can handle Zone 7’s chilly months while their colors grow even more beautiful!
Best Zone Seven Annual For Shady Areas: Impatients
Impatients are the shade-loving annual flower that has become the number one bedding plant in the United States. Of the many varieties available, the most popular overall is the common garden impatiens (I. wallerana). However, there is an impatiens plant in nearly every garden. Mounded types are great for flowerbeds and container gardens, trailing types make great hanging baskets or window box plants, and the New Guinea variety has a taller stature and bigger blooms for places that need a bit of extra flair. Impatients grow from6-24 inches high and are planted in spring, well after the last frost.
Best Zone 7 Annuals For Sunny Areas: Dianthus
The Dianthus Genus comprises a multitude of flowering plants which include pinks, Sweet Williams, and even carnations! These plants are the best choice in drier soil that gets a lot of sunlight, which sets them apart from other low-growing annual flowers.
Most dianthus species can be identified by their pink, white, or red blooms with distinctively notched petals. While carnations are mostly grown for use in floral arrangements and bouquets, Sweet Williams and pinks are some of the most popular low-growing plants for garden beds and rock gardens. In Zone 7, they are used as annuals and are hardy enough to plant in early spring.
Best Zone 7 Annuals For Overall Variety: Violas
There are over 500 different plants in the Voila genus, so there is virtually no end to the possibilities of these flowers. Though they are self-seeding, they are used as annuals in Zone 7.
These plants are split into three basic categories by species, pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), violets (Voila spp.), and Johnny jump-ups (Viola tricolor). These plants have been cultivated into a multitude of hybrids over hundreds of years. Since this has resulted in hundreds of different varieties, the plants with the largest blooms are called pansies, and plants with smaller flowers are called violets. Since violas prefer cooler weather, these are often planted in early spring and in late summer to replace hot weather annuals. All three varieties are also edible, too!
To learn more about annual plants and flowers, check out the articles linked below!
- Annual Flowers For Pots And Container Gardens
- 5 Yellow Annual Flowers
- 5 Best Annual Flowers
- 10 Red Annual Flowers: Vibrant Showstoppers
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Iva Vagnerova
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What are the best annuals to plant in Zone 7?
In zone 7, the best annuals for a well-rounded garden are impatients, ornamental kale and cabbages, dianthus, and violas. These plants are sturdy, easy to plant and care for, and look great all season long.
What are plant zones?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed and maintains the Plant Hardiness Map. This map splits into 13 Zones to aid growers in selecting plants that thrive well in their area. These zones are determined by the lowest average winter temperatures like a weather map.
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