Last week we focused on top perennial selections. This week we are going to let you know our top annual plant selections. Annuals can be planted in the spring or fall, which is perfect for those who don't have much time to spend on their gardens. They are fast growers since their life cycle is a single year.

The following are some reasons why annual flowers are great additions to any garden:

They come in a variety of colors and shapes and often have showier blooms compared to perennials
They offer more flexibility. If you plant some and they clash with another plant, you are not stuck with them for years
They make great companions with perennials and can quickly add harmony to your garden

Annuals are a great choice for hassle-free color all season long. They can be used to jazz up a perennial border, fill in a garden bed, or used to add color to containers or window boxes.

Here are our top five annual selections for 2022:

Our fifth selection is Marigolds. A garden favorite, they can be grown from seed or small starter plants. They come in warm colors including gold, orange, red, white, yellow, and bicolor. The flower size can vary depending on the variety. There are single-flower plants and large 4-inch double-flowering African marigolds. For continuous blooming plants make sure you deadhead them. If it gets too hot, the flowers might stop blooming until it gets a little warmer. Their foliage is fern-like. They like the full sun and are drought-tolerant. Shady conditions can cause the plants to get leggy. They also can thrive in poor soil. Marigolds can be used as a natural insect repellent and make excellent companion plants to many vegetables.

Number four on our list is Violas. There are over 500 species in the Viola genus, which includes annuals, perennials, and subshrubs. The fast-growing varieties found in many gardens are typically small-flowered annuals. These pretty flowers love cooler weather. Flowers are available in many colors and there are even ones with frilly, or striped petals. They are great plants to start your garden off in the spring. They can be grown from seeds, but mainly are grown from starter plants. There are trailing varieties that look wonderful cascading out of a container, hanging basket, or window box. Violas are edible and are often used as a garnish or in a salad. While violas prefer sun over shade, they do not like heat. If you plant them in the summer, make sure they are in the shade.

In the middle of our list are Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus). What would summer be without sunflowers? These tall, strong-stemmed plants produce large flowers on a single stem. They can grow 3-10 feet tall and 1.5 to 3 feet wide. The flowers are richly colored in mahogany, red, yellow, and bicolor. Songbirds love the seeds. The plant is one of the easiest flowers to grow. If you have children, this is a great flower to grow with them. Plant your sunflower in full sun in the spring when the soil has warmed up. Make sure the soil is well-draining and they are planted in a location that is protected as a strong wind can topple them. These plants are robust and are mostly insect and disease-free.

Number two on our list is Dichondra. There is a green or silver variety (Silver Falls) that look great as a groundcover or as a trailing plant that can be used as a spiller in containers or down a wall. Dichondra is fast-growing and has tiny heart-shaped silver or green leaves. We first discovered this plant at an industry tradeshow and fell in love with it. It is a perennial in zones 10-11 and grows up to six feet long. It does well in cool coastal regions. Both the green and silver varieties need the soil to dry out between watering to prevent root rot. It will grow in partial shade but does best in full sun. It is also used as a groundcover and can also be used as a no-mow lawn substitute. The plant can be started from seeds easily or use starter plants. We often use this in containers. Non-native species, especially green varieties, can become aggressive and slightly invasive.

Our top annual for the year is Evolvulus glomeratus, which is also known as dwarf morning glory or blue daze. Unlike morning glories, it is a low, mounding plant and is often grown as a low-growing ground cover. The showy blue flowers flourish in the hot summer through fall. They close at the end of the day and re-open in the morning. It grows eighteen inches tall and up to three feet wide and needs full sun (6-8 hours) and well-draining soil. The plant has no serious disease or pest problem. During the season if the plant starts to produce fewer blooms and looks ragged, trim it back to clean it up and encourage new growth. It can also be grown in containers and overwintered as a houseplant. It is a perennial in zones 8-11.

Let us know your favorite annuals!

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