Plant Category: Annual

African Daisy

Genus: Dimorphotheca

These annuals are sometimes called Cape Marigold, Cape Daisy and Rain Daisy. With mild winters, African Daisies can perform as perennials. The spring flowers feature daisy-like blooms in shades from white to purple. It is important to plant where sun is ample to maximize blooming. There are related hybrids with orange and yellow flowers and the plants are closely related to Gazania. It helps to dead-head spent blooms for more flowering. African Daisies are readily propagated from seeds.

Alyssum

Genus: Brassicacae Alyssum

Tiny clusters of flowers top this low growing annual. Alyssum grow readily and come back through self-sowing. They are effective as underplantings for rose gardens and mixed in with bulbs to obscure dried foliage after tulips and or other bulbs are spent. Alyssum can also be attractively used in rock gardens, between pavers and trailing in pots. If growth gets out of hand they are easily pulled. The flowers have a sweet fragrance. White and purple are the most common colors. Yellow, pink and cream colors can also be found and are less typical.

California Poppy

Genus: Eschscholzia Californica

These poppies do best in naturalized settings and combined with plantings that can take center stage when the poppies become scraggly in late summer. Orange poppies naturally appear in California grasslands. The blooms close at night and in very hot weather. The flowers are particularly striking when they bloom alongside purple lupine. The plants do not transplant well and do best when started from seeds. In subsequent years the plants are self sowing.

Cleome

Genus: Cleome Hasslerana

This flowering annual is also known as a “Spider Plant”. Stunning blooms appear on tall spikes in clusters that reach 3-4′ in height and serve as dramatic garden focal points. Pink varieties include various shades from light tones to dark. As individual flower clusters fade long seed pods serve to add further garden interest. Attractive foliage features grouped leaflets. Grows well in partial or full sun. Occasional volunteers from will emerge in planted beds.

Geranium

Genus: Geranium

The many varieties of geranium differ in leaf and flower color. Long lasting late spring blooms are attractive but the fragrance does not appeal to most as a cut flower. While geranium varieties can be grown as perennials, the plants often become unattractively leggy over time. Given this, geranium may be best thought of as annuals when winters are cold or and summers extremely dry. New plants can be readily grown from cuttings. The plants are hardy but the plants do not do well in gardens with clay soil.

Icelandic Poppy

Genus: Papaveracae Papaver

The water needs of icelandic poppies are higher than asiatic poppy varieties. In light of this, icelandic poppies can be treated as an annual with plants sown from seed in the winter or as early spring transplants. The saucer-shaped blooms come in clear colors that top hairy stems of up to a foot in length. Individual blooms can last a week in the garden which is longer than for many poppy varieties. Blooming is more prolific if spent blooms are removed. Blooms will last for a couple of days indoors if the cut is cauterized by a flame or boiling water.

Salvia

Genus: Salvia Farinacae

This flowering annual features a spike of deep purple-blue or white blooms. While technically a perennial, salvia farinacae is best treated as an annual as the lower stems become woody and unattractive. These salvias can be used effectively in a mixed border and add some needed height when paired with low to the ground perennials. The deep coloration of the flowers are also a nice counterpoint when mixed with warm hued flowers. The flowers on white blooming varieties look spent more rapidly than the darker shades.

Zinnia

Genus: Zinnia

The flowers of these annuals bring showy fireworks to late summer gardens. Zinnias are noted for abundant colorful flowers in clear and vibrant colors. The flowers grow on solitary stems with heights that vary from 6″ to 4′ in height. Zinnias originally come from Mexico. They are easy to grow and do well in full sun. As an added bonus, zinnias attract both butterflies and hummingbirds. Zinnias can be transplanted but do best when grown from seed. New volunteers can be anticipated in future years.