13 Types of Annuals that Bloom All Summer - Growing Guide and Photos

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by Max - last update on May 14, 2020, 8:18 am
Types of Annuals that bloom all summer

Annuals can be some of the most rewarding plants to grow in the garden as they can go from seed to flower quite quickly, and transform your outdoor space into a colorful, fragranced, floral retreat. Annuals that bloom all summer long are among the most popular annuals, as they can be enjoyed for the longest time. This list comprises some of the easiest to grow and care for, plus the most stunning annual plants that will bring long-lived flowers to your garden.

13 Types of Annuals

1. Summer Snapdragon

Summer Snapdragon

Scientific Name: Angelonia angustifolia

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Low moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Purple, pink, red, white, blue

Special Features: Drought tolerant

Varieties: Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Perfectly Pink’, Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Wedgewood Blue’, Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Super White’

This plant belongs to the Plantaginaceae family and is native to Central and South America, where it grows as a perennial. However, for any climates below USDA hardiness zone 9, this plant is grown as an annual, where it appreciates the hot and dry summers but will die back in cool winters. Although this plant bears a resemblance to the common garden snapdragon, its flowers are smaller and are different in that the petals do not snap shut when pinched, like the mouth of a dragon.

This tropical plant grows easily from seed, and has a long blooming period, with flowers first appearing in late spring and lasting right through to fall. As well as being eye-catching, the flowers are scented with a fragrance similar to grapes or apples. This charming fragrance is appealing to most people, but it repels deer, making the plant an excellent choice if you have problems with deer invading your yard. This plant is incredibly easy to care for, as it enjoys dry conditions with little supplemental watering. It does not need to be deadheaded, though occasionally pruning back one of the stems will encourage the plant to produce more blooms.


2. China Aster

China Aster

Scientific Name: Callistephus chinensis

Mature Size: Up to 3 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink, purple, red, white, yellow, blue

Special Features: Showy flowers

Varieties: Callistephus chinensis ‘Gala Blue’, Callistephus chinensis ‘Super Baby Light Pink’, Callistephus chinensis ‘Starlight Rose’

This plant belongs to the Asteraceae family, which is also home to daisies, chrysanthemums, and sunflowers, all of which have flowers that resemble the China aster. China asters are annual plants, unlike other asters, which are perennials. Though they originated in China, these plants have undergone much hybridization and manipulation to give us the China asters we have available today. These plants are incredibly popular among gardeners as they are so easy to grow and thrive in a wide range of climates and conditions.

They produce showy flowers in a range of colors and styles, which have a long blooming period of early summer through to fall. Flowers range in size from three inches to five inches across and can take the form of daisy-like single flowers, or puffed up double flowers, which look like pompoms and resemble dahlias. They are cool climate flowers which love the full sun in these conditions but will grow well in partial shade in hotter climates. They need soil to remain moist, and so require a well-draining soil to avoid root rot. They work well as bedding plants, container plants, and border plants, and also make lovely cut flowers.


3. Million Bells

Million Bells

Scientific Name: Calibrachoa hybrid

Mature Size: Up to 10 inches tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 9-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Acidic, rich, well-draining

Flower Color: Purple, pink, blue, white, yellow, red, orange

Special Features: Heat tolerant

Varieties: Calibrachoa ‘Crackling Fire’, Calibrachoa ‘Cabaret Coral Kiss’, Calibrachoa ‘Superbells Double Orchid’

This is a hybrid plant with South American origins. It was bred as an alternative to petunias, which could not tolerate the drought and high temperatures that million bells could thrive in. These plants produce masses of flowers, which continue to bloom heavily from late spring right through to the first frost. The flowers look like small petunia flowers and attract hummingbirds. The plant has a dense trailing habit so that it looks as though it is spilling heavily out of the container it is grown in, rather than dangling down like some trailing plants. It grows vigorously, putting on an impressive display for several months.

Million bells are most commonly grown in hanging baskets or containers, but they can also work well in beds and borders. In hot climates, these plants are grown as perennials, but in most climates, they are considered to be annuals. As hybrids, they can not be grown from seed, and instead are usually bought as starter plants. These plants thrive in a wide range of soils, but good drainage is very important. They can grow in full sun or partial shade and prefer their soil to be kept moist.


4. Canna Lily

Canna Lily

Scientific Name: Canna indica

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 8-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Maintain moist soil

Soil: Rich, well-draining

Flower Color: Red, yellow, pink, orange, white,

Special Features: Showy flowers

Varieties: Canna indica ‘Apricot Dream’, Canna indica ‘Cannova Bronze Scarlet’, Canna indica ‘Golden Lucifer’

This plant is native to Central and South America, where it grows as a perennial. However, in most climates, it is grown as an annual for its striking summer blooms. It has naturalized in most continents across the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America, and has long been grown as a minor food crop in some parts of South America. It grows from tuberous roots, and when grown as an annual should be dug out of the ground each year and stored indoors over winter, before replanting the following spring. This is because the plant is very sensitive to frost and will not survive in frozen ground.

These plants vary in size, with bigger tubers producing larger plants. They bloom in mid-summer and stay in flower right through to fall. The flowers arrive in loose clusters at the top of erect stalks, above medium green sword-shaped foliage. The flowers bloom in abundance, and look a lot like the flowers of lilies, hence the common name, though this plant is not actually related to the true lily, and instead belongs to the Cannaceae family. Their showy flowers often feature a variety of colors in a single flower and should be deadheaded once spent to encourage further blooming. They work well in beds and borders, as well as in container gardening.


5. Spider Flower

Spider Flower

Scientific Name: Cleome hassleriana

Mature Size: Up to 6 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Light: Full sun

Water: Low water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink, purple, white

Special Features: Heat and drought tolerant

Varieties: Cleome hassleriana ‘Helen Campbell’, Cleome hassleriana ‘Sparkler Blush’, Cleome hassleriana ‘Violet Queen’

This plant belongs to the Cleomaceae family. It is native to South America and has since been naturalized in South Asia. It is an annual flowering plant, though, in some temperate climates, it is cultivated as a perennial. It can grow to various heights depending on the variety, with maximum heights ranging from three feet up to six feet. The foliage of the plant is dark green and palmate, arranged in spirals around the base of the stalks. The plant is fast-growing and produces large and loose clusters of flowers, measuring around six inches across. Each flower has small petals with long protruding stamens that look like spiders' legs and give the plant its common name. They bloom from early summer and remain until the first frost. Even once the flowers have faded, they remain decorative as the dried seed heads are quite attractive, and these seeds provide a source of food to birds and other wildlife.

These plants have low water needs and are drought tolerant once established. They are also tolerant of heat, and so can survive in full sun even in very hot climates. They will self-seed easily, so if you do not wish to grow more spider flowers, you should deadhead them as soon as they fade.


6. Silver Cockscomb

Silver Cockscomb

Scientific Name: Celosia argentea

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink, purple, red, orange

Special Features: Showy flowers

Varieties: Celosia argentea ‘Asian Garden’, Celosia argentea var. Cristata ‘Fresh Look Orange’, Celosia argentea var. Cristata ‘Flamingo Feather’

This tropical plant is a tender perennial which is commonly grown as an annual in most climates. It is renowned for its brightly colored plume-like flowers, which bloom at the top of tall, erect spikes and have a long blooming period from late spring through to the end of summer. The green foliage covers the stems and offers a good contrast to the fluffy flowers. This plant will self-seed easily and is known as an invasive weed in some parts of Asia.

The flowers of these plants make excellent cut flower displays, either fresh or dried. Both the leaves and the flowers are also edible and are commonly used in cooking in some parts of Africa and Asia. This plant thrives in full sun and prefers a well-draining soil, which is kept consistently moist. However, once established, the plant is tolerant of both drought and heat.


7. Globe Amaranth

Globe Amaranth

Scientific Name: Gomphrena globosa

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Pink, purple, white, red, orange

Special Features: Unusual flowers

Varieties: Gomphrena globosa ‘Pinball Purple’, Gomphrena globosa ‘Ping Pong White’, Gomphrena globosa ‘Pink Zazzle’

This plant belongs to the Amaranthaceae family, and is native to Central America, though it is now commonly found around the globe. It is a tropical annual plant that produces spectacular blooms from early summer right through to the fall. The flowers grow to around two inches across, and take the shape of fluffy globes, resembling pompoms. They bloom atop tall, sturdy stems, which typically reach between two and four feet in height. They can be used as cut flowers, and also make excellent long-lasting dried floral arrangements.

In some regions, notably Hawaii and Nepal, the flowers of the globe amaranth are used to create dried garlands. The plant is also edible and can be used to make a medicinal tea. These plants are drought and heat tolerant once established, and can also survive in a range of soils, including clay. However, they perform best in moist soil, which is well-draining and prefer a position of full sun.


8. Common Sunflower

Common Sunflower

Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus

Mature Size: up to 13 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2 - 11

Light: Full Sun

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining soil

Flower Color: Yellow, red, orange

Special Features: Big yellow flower head, resembling the sun.

Varieties: Helianthus argophyllus, Helianthus maximiliani, Helianthus occidentalis, Helianthus maximiliani,Helianthus strumosus, etc.

Helianthus annus, also known as the common sunflower, is known for its big round yellow flower head on an erect high stem. This annual is grown in many places in the US and the world, mostly for their ornamental looks and as live stock forage or bird food. People also use their seeds/fruits and oils for cooking and cosmestic purposes.

The common sunflower can bloom all the summer, but many hybrid species of this annual bloom from mid summer to early fall.


9. Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea

Scientific Name: Lathyrus odoratus

Mature Size: Up to 8 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average moisture needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Blue, pink, white, purple, red

Special Features: Scented flowers

Varieties: Lathyrus odoratus ‘Spencer Mix’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Leominster Boy’, Lathyrus odoratus ‘Flora Norton’

This plant belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae, though no parts of it are edible, and ingestion can cause stomach upset. It is native to parts of Europe, including Cyprus and Italy. Sweet peas are annual climbers that grow rapidly along supporting structures such as trellis or arbors. They also work well in raised garden beds so that they are able to trail downwards. They are well-loved by gardeners for their long blooming period, prolific flowering habit, and sweet-smelling blooms. They are available in a wide variety of colors, with some cultivars having stronger scents than others.

The flowers first appear in spring and will last right through to the first frost. They thrive in mild climates and may experience a shorter blooming period if subjected to too much heat or humidity. In cool climates, sweet peas should be grown in full sun, but in warmer climates, they appreciate some partial shade, particularly in the afternoon. These plants like to have ‘cold feet,’ and so should have their roots shaded by growing other plants around their base, or you could mulch the soil to help keep it cool.

Sweet pea flowers make excellent cut flowers, and pruning back the stems during blooming actually encourages the plant to produce more flowering stems, so you can enjoy these delightful blooms both inside and outside your home.


10. Opium Poppy

Opium Poppy

Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3-8

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Low water needs

Soil: Well-draining

Flower Color: Purple, pink, white, red, blue

Special Features: Easy care

Varieties: Papaver somniferum ‘Hungarian Blue’, Papaver somniferum ‘Sissinghurst White’, Papaver somniferum ‘Danish Flag’

This plant belongs to the Papaveraceae family and is thought to be native to the eastern Mediterranean region, but it has been naturalized across most of Europe and Asia. As the common name suggests, this poppy is the plant from which both poppy seeds and opium are produced, though many cultivated varieties actually contain very little opium. It is a widely produced agricultural crop, primarily cultivated for the poppy seeds used as a human food source, with its secondary purpose being the production of opium to the pharmaceutical industry. It is also widely cultivated as an ornamental plant, for its showy, large flowers, which have a deep cup shape and are available in a variety of colors.

This plant blooms all summer long, and once flowers are spent, they give way to decorative seed pods. These seeds will disperse themselves in the surrounding ground and self-sow to create new opium poppies the following spring. This plant requires very little water, and prefers a well-draining soil in a full sun or partially shaded position. It grows easily with very little care or maintenance.


11. Petunia

Petunia

Scientific Name: Petunia x hybrida

Mature Size: Up to 2 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 10-11

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Fertile, rich, well-draining

Flower Color: Purple, yellow, red, pink, white

Special Features: Prolific bloomer

Varieties: Petunia ‘Easy Wave Pink Passion’, Petunia ‘Tidal Wave Silver’, Petunia ‘Supertunia Lavender Skies’

Petunia plants belong to the Solanaceae family. Though most varieties of petunia grown in gardens today are hybrids, they have their origins in South America. These plants are kept as perennials in USDA zones 10 and 11, but outside of these zones, the plants are commonly grown as annuals. They are loved by gardeners for the abundance of blooms they produce over a long blooming period, and for the ease with which they grow. They have a dense trailing habit that spills heavily over the side of containers or hanging baskets.

The flowers of these plants have a wide-open trumpet shape and come in a wide range of colors, including bi-color. They bloom from spring all the way through to the first frost and do not require deadheading, making them exceptionally low maintenance. A well-draining soil is most important for this plant, and it also enjoys rich and fertile soil. Position your petunias in a full sun spot in cooler climates, and a partially shaded spot in hot climates. They are both heat and drought tolerant once established but perform best in moist soils.


12. Moss Rose

Moss Rose

Scientific Name: Portulaca grandiflora

Mature Size: Up to 1 foot tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-12

Light: Full sun

Water: Low water needs

Soil: Infertile, well-draining

Flower Color: Pink, purple, orange, yellow, red, white

Special Features: Drought tolerant

Varieties: Portulaca grandiflora ‘Afternoon Delight’, Portulaca grandiflora ‘Happy Hour’, Portulaca grandiflora ‘Sundance’

This plant is a succulent in the Portulacaceae family. It is native to Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, though it is also commonly found in South Asia. This plant is small in stature, rarely reaching its maximum height of 1 foot, and typically topping out at around six inches. It is grown as an annual plant, with a vigorous growth habit that sees it quickly become a dense mat of fleshy foliage, dotted with upright flowers which reach outwards.

The flowers come in a variety of shades and can be single, double, semi-double, with flat or ruffled petals. They bloom in late spring and will persist until the first frost of fall, during which time they open up in daylight and close during nighttime or dark and cloudy conditions. The flowers will give way to seeds, which will self sow easily. If you prefer not to increase your patch of moss rose, deadhead and dispose of the flowers as soon as they are spent. Their vigorous low-growing habit makes them ideally suited to use as ground cover, and they also work well as borders on the front row of garden beds.


13. Zinnia

Zinnia

Scientific Name: Zinnia elegans

Mature Size: Up to 4 feet tall

USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-11

Light: Full sun

Water: Average water needs

Soil: Rich, well-draining

Flower Color: Yellow, orange, red, white, purple

Special Features: Easy to grow

Varieties: Zinnia elegans ‘Blue Point Purple’, Zinnia elegans ‘Queeny Lime Orange’, Zinnia elegans ‘Pop Art White and Red’

These plants are part of the Asteraceae family and are native to Mexico, but they have also become naturalized throughout Central and South America, throughout the United States, Australia, and parts of Europe. The flowers of zinnias can take various forms, including single flowers with a central disc, semi-double flowers with several rows of petals, and fully double flowers, which puff up like pom poms.

This specific type of Zinnia has large double flowers that resemble dahlias. They grow on top of tall, sturdy stems, and are incredibly easy to grow from seed. They flower in early summer and will continue to bloom right through to fall. Flowers will typically measure around three inches across with some variation between varieties. These plants are drought-tolerant, though grow best in evenly moist soil.

13 Types of Annuals that Bloom All Summer - Growing Guide and Photos

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