10 Cool Season Annual Flowers To Plant Ilona Erwin Feb 18, 2013 3 Comments

Shirley poppies and Bachelor Buttons

 Not every garden writer alerts you to the fact that annuals can have seasons that are shorter than other choices. For places like Ohio which have hot summers, there are common annuals that only do well when our weather is cooler, such as in early summer. Those flowers sort of burn out in our hot summer temperatures of midseason, in July and August.

Does this mean we shouldn't plant them? Not at all. I love the cool season annuals because of their beauty, but also because they pop up early. Such plants can be ideal in a child's garden, where quick results are wanted. To fill in where perennials are slow to cover space might be another good use for them.

Here is the list of ten cool season annuals to try in your garden this year:
  1. Candytuft, Iberis umbellata, quick and easy- but oh so pretty. Large flat shaped seeds burst into purple, mauve, pink, and white Candytuft blossoms.
  2. Shirley poppies, Papaver rhoeas, are delicate, full blown poppies and come in a rainbow of colors. They sway in the breezes and will make your garden veritably shine with a mass of blooms.
  3. Love In A Mist, Nigella damascena, creates the sky blue gardeners love when they are selected for that color, such as in the 'Miss Jekyll Blue' variety.
  4. Sweet Peas, Lathyrus odoratus, are fragrant and come in not just a candy store display of colors, but special bloom forms, too. The old fashioned selections are the most fragrant, and try to plant the seeds around St. Patrick's Day.
  5. Pot marigolds, Calendula officinalis, are not just gorgeous in spring, but one of the last to be still standing and blooming in the fall. They can put chrysanthemums to shame in both color and long-lasting bloom. You can eat them if you wish, too.
  6. Toadflax, Linaria marrocana, is one of my favorite little flowers and great for a Fairy Garden. They come in both mixed colors and selected varieties. Like small versions of snapdragons.
  7. Nemesia, is a small scale flowering annual that comes in all sorts of colors and looks pretty with linaria and is one of my favorites for a container planting. Like many of the cool season plants it needs to be kept moist.
  8. Chinese Forget-Me-Nots, Cynoglossum amabile, are easy to grow and bring cheerful forget-me-not type flowers and that sought after blue into the garden. It was very persistent for me for years, coming back reliably from seed. Also called "Hound's tongue".
  9. Annual Baby's Breath, Gypsophilia elegans, will give the pure white, delicate flowers that grace a cut flower arrangements and lace the borders with pretty sprays of baby's breath flowers. They are much shorter than the perennial plants of that name. 'Covent Garden' is the variety I always planted.
  10. Satin Flower, Godetia, doesn't seem to be very well known nowadays. Its showy pink flowers deserve to be more widely known. Just barely cover the seeds that are directly sown into the garden. Another good cut flower choice.
I just wrote a new plant profile page on Calendulas

The main drawback for those of us who garden in the continental Midwestern states is that fact that these lovely blooms "burnout", and do not thrive in our hot summers. But if a garden is located in the South, the cool season annuals can be great choices for sowing in November for early blooms the following year.

Wherever you garden, consider direct sowing some of these lovelies in your garden.

More about gardening with annuals Ilona's Garden Annuals Page | California Annuals list

by Ilona Erwin

A gardener, blogger, writer, who has been blogging here since 2004, and writing for my website, Ilona's Garden since 1998.

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  1. Such lovely flowers for the spring! Perhaps candytuft has to my absolute favorite!

  2. THat is a wonderful list of plants. I am going to have to try calendulas sometime. I love the beautiful blooms on them.

  3. Thank you both!

    Oh Lona, buy a packet of Calendula and plant them this year! You will be so glad you did come fall... when everything else has gone by the cheerful yellow and orange of Calendula shine through. I love chrysanthemums, but I would almost say these are better, certainly less work.


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