One Season Plants

Annuals are plants that complete their entire growth cycle in one season. For that reason they are floriferous for a long period, especially when prevented from setting seed.

When annual flowering plants return each year, due to having hardy or half-hardy seeds, we say they are “self-seeding”. Many of my favorites are in that category.

shirley poppies

Shirley Poppies in my Garden

I adore Shirley poppies and Love in a Mists, larkspurs and calendulas, and all of them will self-seed in the garden, sometimes popping up in sometimes unpredictable places!

Secrets of Success

  1. Plant them the way they like: from seed or from early starts; in sun or in part-shade.
  2. Plant early starts with a little attention to teasing out the roots; plant the seeds at proper depth.
  3. Water, water, water. If they get stressed from drying out, they will go to seed and stop blooming.
  4. Dead-head. When they do go past their prime (in mid-July or so), trim off their heads (spent blooms).
  5. They usually need some fertilizer. Not too much, but some. Good soil + organic fertilizer will give brighter and more blooms.

Most Important Tips for Annual Flowering Plants?

Follow the directions on the packet when seeding. It doesn’t hurt to invest in a resource manual on planting from seed, if you plan on doing a lot of it.

Have your soil well-prepared: weed-free, cultivated, raked smooth.

Dead heading and fertilizing, along with proper watering brings the best, longest flower performance from these eager to bloom plants.


Terms To Know

Planting “in situ”, means directly in the ground. Read for more instructions on “in situ” or direct sowing. Many plants started in flats do just as well or better started this way. Marigolds, Zinnias, Cosmos, are just a few that come to mind. Sowing seed directly in the ground can be healthier, and certainly you get more of them.

This is the practice of pinching or snipping off the spent flowers, before they have a chance to set seed. The more often you pay attention to this the better your plants look, and the longer and better they bloom. another quick way to accomplish this is the midseason “haircut”, which cuts back the sprawling plants nad gives them new flowering vigor.

When you start tender annual plants indoors, as you must when they take too long to come into bloom (like petunias or lobelias, etc), you need to help the transplants acclimate to the outdoors. Hardening off is the process of gradually introducing indoor grown seedlings to the sun, wind, and temperatures they will have outdoors. Usually starting with an hour outside, then increasing it to two, and so forth, until the plants are accustomed to a full day out of doors. Take about a week and half to two to do this.

: Garden Projects Using Annuals

A Fragrant Garden
Butterfly Garden
Cottage Garden

Favorite Annuals

Plant Profile Guides For My Favorite Annuals

Calendula officianalis

Dahlberg Daisy,Thymophylla Tenuiloba

Reseda odorata, Mignonette

Nasturiums Nicotiana, Flowering Tobacco

Although they complete their life cycle in one season, many will reseed and reappear year after year.

I find that this happens much more when the ground is kept cultivated, and un-mulched.

petunia Cappuccino

Color Standout

Petunias are the most widely grown annual flowering plants, and the range of colors, named cultivars, hybrid forms are seemingly innumerable. I have many tucked around the garden each year because they are so reliable.

Reliability is a valued quality in the Midwest. While I love the many new flowers that are greenhouse grown, old standbys often are beloved for good reason. You might be surprised how fresh they look when artistically combined with the right companions.

Plants for Sun and Shade

A List of Annuals for Sun

[Sun -Part Sun] from the list of what I’ve grown

A List of Annuals for Shade

[Shade/Part Sun] from the list of what I’ve grown

  • Browallia speciosa
  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Nicotiana
  • Torenia fournieri [Wishbone flower]
  • Vinca
  • Viola [Pansies]
  • Zinnias

Perennials Grown as Annuals

Vining geranium

Vining geranium

Some tender perennials are grown for one season

  • Begonia x semperflorens –shady to part sun. Some call these annual and some call them perennial. They are grown as annuals here.
  • Begonia x tuberhybrida [tuberous begonias] –shady
  • Four-O-Clockssunny
  • Geraniums [Pelargoniums]sunny
  • Heliotropesunny





Discover more about Annuals, Perennials, Herbs, Bulbs, Shrubs, Trees, and Vines.

Extra Links: Lists of Annuals For Specific Purposes