Flowers: Annuals

April 14, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Flowers | Selection | General Requirements and Maintenance | Annuals | Perennials | Bulbs | Problems

Links to external web pages are followed by the source's name in parentheses.

Annuals make long-lasting and colorful displays, as seen here at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. (Photo credit: Karen Jeannette)



Annual tranplants help add instant color to the garden. (Photo credit:Karen Jeannette)

When selecting annuals, you may find that descriptions such as hardy, half-hardy, and tender are used to describe the hardiness of annuals. These descriptions refer to an annual flower's temperature tolerance. Hardiness may vary within genera.


  • Annuals (Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series, University of Minnesota) explains how annual hardiness descriptions are determined.

General Care

Care of annuals can be found in the following resources:

  • Annuals - Help Them Survive Transplanting is sound advice to ensure new annual flowers get a good start.

Search for Specific Annual Flowers

Tropical plants often add height and drama to container plantings, as seen here. (Photo credit: Karen Jeannette)

  • Search Plant Dictionary (Dept. of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University) to find pictures and information about specific annuals.
- User hint: Select the "Annuals" button and do a search. Notice there are more than 100 annuals for you to see. Use the blue "Resources" box to find more information about a specific annual.

Tropical Flowers as Annuals

Excerpt from: Kroening, Mary. University of Missouri[1]

One of the most popular trends is the use of tropical or tropical-looking plants. Tropical plants are very heat tolerant, which makes them a perfect choice for areas with hot summers. Tropical plants typically have large or boldly shaped foliage and flowers, and often colored or variegated foliage. These traits ideally suit tropicals for use as focal points when planted with masses of colorful trailing annuals, such as lantana, ornamental sweet potato, fan flower, million bells, verbena, or even petunias. Interesting tropical plants to try include angel's trumpet, banana, caladium, cannas, castor bean, elephant ear, dragon-wing begonia, mandevilla, bougainvillea, hibiscus, fuschia, and dracaena.

Canna, caladium, castor bean, and elephant ear have a tremendous size variation, and the foliage is very decorative. Elephant ear and caladium grow well in both sunny and shady locations, and their colorful foliage make them fantastic focal plants for containers. Elephant ear can even be grown in water containers because it prefers constantly moist soil conditions. There are many new varieties of fuschia available that make a wonderful accent plant in the hanging basket. Fushcia prefer shade, thus making them ideally suited for hanging under the deck or overhang. Dragon-wing begonia are more sun tolerant than most begonias and are well suited to come indoors for the winter, as are hibiscus, mandevilla, and bougainvillea. There is a new hibiscus available that offers maroon-colored leaves, which makes a very colorful addition to your collection of summer annuals. Elephant ear and canna bulbs can be dug up in the fall and stored as bulbs for re-use the next growing season.


Using tropical plants in the landscape can be a rewarding experience. Knowing how to use, grow, overwinter, and design with tropical plants can help you get the most out of your experience.

For more information, see:


  1. Kroening, M. 2008. Add Architectural Variety to Your Selection of Summer Annuals.

Flowers | Selection | General Requirements and Maintenance | Annuals | Perennials | Bulbs | Problems

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.