For many gardeners, the first annual flower blooms of summer signify that warmer weather has arrived and the growing season is fully underway. Annual flowers are generally easy to grow from seed and bloom quickly. While the selection of summer annual flowers will vary from one growing zone to another, certain varieties can find their home in most any garden.
Adding flowering plants to the garden is a sure way to achieve vibrant color and attract pollinators and beneficial insects. While perennial plants and shrubs may take several years to become established and bloom consistently, annual flowers are an excellent way to get that instant color in the landscape. Transplanting annual flowers or direct sowing seeds is a quick and easy way for even novice growers to create interesting and enjoyable green spaces.
Here are the top three summertime favorites that every newbie gardener should try growing in the garden:
- Cosmos – Several popular types of cosmos flowers are grown for their beautiful blooms. Ranging in size, most gardeners are able to find cultivars to complement their landscape. Cosmos bipinnatus is most common. Varieties such as ‘Double Click’ and ‘Candy Stripe’ bloom in purple and white. Cosmos sulphureus, another favorite, creates a profusion of bright orange flowers. Cosmos seeds can be directly sown into weed-free flower and are adaptable to various soil types. They’re even known to thrive in areas that are less than ideal for other types of plants.
- Sunflowers – Sunflowers are often among the first flowers grown by beginner gardeners with good reason. They’re super easy! Though most are familiar with taller, giant varieties of sunflowers, plant sizes do vary. Dwarf varieties will undoubtedly look beautiful in the border, while others may be grown for their use as cut flowers or the sunflower seed. Sunflower colors range from pale yellow to dark burgundy or maroon. Sunflower seeds should be directly sown after all chance of frost has passed in spring. For the best results, space each seed according to packet instructions. Since sunflowers are known to be heavy feeders, make certain beds are well amended.
- Zinnias – Much like sunflowers, zinnias are a classic summertime favorite. Blooming in as little as 8-10 weeks from planting, these flowers allow you to quickly add color to the garden. While many varieties of zinnias are quite tall, some cultivars produce dwarf types that are ideal for use as bedding plants. Zinnias are prized for their cut-and-come-again nature. This means that the plant responds well to deadheading or use for cut flowers. Varieties within the ‘Benary’s Giant’ series produce showy, bright blooms throughout the entire growing season. Zinnia seeds can be directly sown into a prepared garden bed in spring for bright summer blooms.