Annuals Available to Suit Most Sites

posted on February 22, 2005 12:37pm

Contact:  Leslie Johnson or Mary McLellan
517-432-1555 or 355-5191

EAST LANSING, Mich.—Light shade or a northern exposure or full sun, dry soil or moist—whatever the growing conditions in your intended planting spot, you can probably find one or more annual flowers that will thrive there.

“Numerous annuals not only survive but thrive in shady spots in the garden,” says Mary McLellan, Extension Master Gardener program coordinator at Michigan State University.

For a garden spot that’s lightly shaded most of the day, or a northern exposure that never gets direct sun, good choices include impatiens, wax begonia and coleus. An area that receives some sun each day would be good for wax begonia, impatiens, sweet alyssum, salvia and nicotiana (flowering tobacco).

Impatiens is probably the most popular annual for shade. It forms low, flower-covered mounds as the summer passes. A rainbow of flower colors is available, from white through pink to lavender, coral, salmon and red. Bicolors and double and semidouble flowers are also popular.

Coleus is grown for its exotic-looking colorful foliage in bright green, purple, pink, red, cream and nearly black. Leaves may be fringed, notched, lacy or wrinkled.

Salvia and nicotiana will grow in partial shade or full sun. The traditional color for salvia is red, but recent introductions produce spikes of blue-violet, ivory, orange, rose and blue flowers. The trumpet-shaped flowers of nicotiana may be pink, red, white or yellow.

Sweet alyssum may also be planted in full sun, though it benefits from shade in the late afternoon. Its low mounds of tiny white, pink or purple flowers are often used for edging in front of taller plants.

Sun-loving annuals are so abundant that it may be difficult to choose which ones to plant. Some are put in the garden as transplants and provide nearly instant color. These include petunias, geraniums, marigolds, annual salvia, celosia (cockscomb), flowering cabbage and kale, dusty miller (grown for its silvery-white foliage), snapdragons and portulaca (moss rose). Others are more often grown from seed sown directly into the garden, including zinnias, nasturtiums, cleome (spider flower), California poppies, cosmos, sunflowers, sweet peas, scarlet runner beans and morning glories.

“No matter what your color scheme or what sort of plant you need, from climbing vine to ground cover to edging or background plant, you can find annual flowers to fit,” McLellan notes. “Many of them do very well in containers, also, so even if your garden is a few flower pots on an apartment balcony, you can enjoy annual flowers.”



View News Archive