Flowering annuals highlight the garden | Features

Annual flowering plants add consistent color to the landscape. The selection of different plant types and colors is numerous.

Annuals, even though they live for one year, draw attention to the house door or special feature in the landscape and fill in areas while perennial flowering plants and shrubs grow.

It is still too early to plant many annuals due to the possibility of freezing temperatures, but a few are described below while planning your landscape.

Mecardonia hybrid “Gold Dust” is covered with tiny yellow blooms all summer. The green leaves are small too. In the 2012 UK Statewide Flower Trial, conducted by the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service and Extension Master Gardeners at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden, it received top ratings from May to October.

“Gold Dust” is one of my favorites in containers as it trails over the pot. In the ground, it forms a nice mound of color. The short plant is 2 to 5 inches tall and spreads 16 to 20 inches wide.

A tall plant is Canna x generalis Cannova “Yellow.” This canna has beautiful yellow flowers. The large green leaves serve as a pretty background for the flowers. The plant may grow to 48 inches tall with a width of 14 to 20 inches.

This series is the first hybrid easy to grow from seed. It grows best in full sun and moist, but well-drained soil. It is vigorous and great as a background for a flower bed. This canna performs well in a large container, too.

This was one of the favorite entries in the local 2021 Statewide Bedding Plant Trials conducted at the Western KY Botanical Garden by Extension Master Gardeners.

Coleus x hybridus, also written as the genus Solenostemon, is an annual plant grown for the effect of the colorful foliage rather than flowers. Coleus plants are available with different leaf sizes, shapes, and color combinations.

Leaf colors include yellow, red, bronze, light green, chartreuse, and white. The plant height may range from 9 to 36 inches tall depending on the cultivar.

It was known that coleus would grow in shade or partial shade. However, today remember that some cultivars are sun-tolerant and grow in full sun to partial sun. The plant habit may be tall, rounded, or trailing.

Coleus grows well in ground beds and pots. The trailing coleus makes nice plants for pots and hanging baskets. Wildfire series “Smoky Rose” performed well in full sun in the 2018 UK Statewide Bedding Plant Trials too.

Begonia, Dragon Wing™ Red, is a beautiful, vigorous plant with large, glossy green, wing-shaped leaves and large scarlet flowers that droop from the leaves. It is one of my favorite begonias. When the wind blows the pot of this plant over on my deck, the plants are not destroyed. It certainly is carefree in my garden. The plant grows 12 to 24 inches tall. This heat-tolerant plant performs well either in sun or shade in planters, window boxes, hanging baskets, or bedding areas.

Lantana camara Havana “Red Sky” is a beautiful lantana that is used as an annual in our Zone 6. There are other lantanas, but “Red Sky” performed at the highest rating throughout the year in the local 2018 UK Bedding Plant Trials.

The plant is 8 to 10 inches tall and 10 to 12 inches wide. The plant habit is neat and mounding. The flowers are red and orange in the same cluster. Lantana grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Calibrachoa “Dreamsicle” Superbells series is covered with 1-inch wide miniature petunia-like blooms. The flower color is orange. This compact plant with a trailing habit thrives in full sun from spring to frost. Calibrachoa performs well alone in a pot or in combination with other annuals. The plant may reach 10 inches high.

There are many cultivars of Calibrachoa today. Colors include pinks, purple, red, cherry, peach, coral, yellow, and white. Plant habit is usually trailing but a few of the cultivars are more upright.

Euphorbia Diamond Frost forms a mass of little white flowers above the green plant all season long. The plant reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and forms a mounding habit. It is a great plant to mix with other annuals as a filler but also looks good planted by itself.

Diamond Frost performs best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. It is heat and drought-tolerant.

Angelonia angustifolia, summer snapdragon, reaches 18 to 24 inches tall with its flower spikes. The snapdragon-like flowers are available in colors of blue, purple, pink, lavender, or white. Summer snapdragon tolerates heat and drought. It prefers to grow in full sun. This plant can be used in pots or in the ground.

Scaevola aemula ‘Blue Wonder’, fan flower, is a really tough plant that thrives in a hot, humid climate and can withstand wind. The violet, fan-shaped flower blooms throughout the summer. The unique bloom looks very good in hanging baskets or window boxes.

Moon vine (Ipomoea alba) flowers begin to open in late afternoon to early evening and closing as the sun rises. The fragrant flowers are open for only one night, but the vine is always covered with them.

The heart-shaped, green leaves are 4 to 6 inches long. This tender, tropical perennial is an annual in our zone since it is killed by freezing temperatures. Moon vine prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

For more information about flowering annuals, contact the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service at 270-685-8480 or

Annette’s Tip

When daffodils (Narcissus) become crowded and the number of blooms decrease, they should be divided. The best time to divide them is after the foliage has died completely which may be in June. They can be divided in July and August too. Remember to allow the foliage to dye back naturally.

Annette Meyer Heisdorffer is the Daviess County extension agent for horticulture. Her column her runs weekly on the Home & Garden page in Lifestyle. Email her at


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