We often think of annuals as container plants or flowers whose purpose is to fill a space in the garden with a quick burst of color, but there are many annual flowers that are tall and rather striking on their own. These plants are lofty enough for the back of any flower border and bold enough to make a statement of their own. Some of them are hard to find in a garden center, but many of them can be grown from seed and since they are annuals they grow quite quickly.

Perennials have been a staple of cottage gardens and flower borders for centuries. You can also use them to form a living privacy fence or to hide an ugly view. A stand of tall perennial flowers can screen your yard from the world, but these tall plants can also create a dramatic backdrop in a garden. Regardless of your preference these “Garden Skyscrapers” are a must-have in any flower garden.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Lilies - Hardy and beautiful, these flowers grow from 4 to 6 feet tall and have big, showy flowers in a variety of colors. Many varieties are fragrant and these tall perennial flowers are great for bouquets. Try Pink Giant, Sunset Lily Mix, or Double Magic Star in your garden this year.


  • Hollyhock - An essential flower for any cottage garden, Hollyhock will bring old-fashioned beauty to your flower border. Hollyhocks produce blooms in hot pink, red, white, and even black on 6 to 8-foot-tall stalks. Technically a biennial, it self-seeds and multiplies, so you won’t need to replant it from year to year.


  • Canna - Cannas look tropical and are a beautiful addition to flower borders and containers. These tubers grow as tall as 6 feet, with big, paddle-shaped leaves and blooms in red, orange, yellow, and cream. Phaidon, Stuggart, and Moonshine are popular choices.


  • Cosmos - Cosmos are one of the most undemanding annual flowers you can grow. Direct sow in the garden by spreading them any time around your last frost date. Cosmos will repeat flower even without deadheading, but the plants will bloom longer if you do so. Cosmos readily self-seed and the seedlings are easy enough to pull out and transplant. The taller varieties come in colors such as white and pink, but the Bright Lights variety, which is a yellow and orange flower, might be the most impressive. 


  • Sunflowers - Sunflowers very well may be the first plants you think of when you start searching for tall flowers.  Annual Sunflowers usually were late bloomers, but newer varieties begin blooming in mid-summer. Traditional yellow Sunflowers are still popular, but now you can also find colors such as burgundy and white. You can start seed indoors 2 to 4 weeks before your last frost date or since Sunflowers grow so quickly plant seeds directly in the soil. 
  • Dahlia - Few flowers are as spectacular as a dinner plate Dahlia. These tubers are planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. They prefer easily worked soil which is enriched with compost and drains well. When the flower buds begin to form remove the buds on the side and allow the bud in the center to flower. This allows the plant to put all its energy into one flower and encourages them to get quite large. Try Babylon RedFirepot Dahlia, and Friquolet Cactus Dahlia in your garden this year!
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