Published on Aug 29, 2020

Plant Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Annual flowers can be a great source of color to accent and your home’s landscape. While flowering trees and shrubs provide short periods of color, most annuals begin blooming shortly after planting and continue to flower for the length of the growing season. Annuals plants come in a range of colors, sizes and species adapted to either sun or shade. This makes it possible to plant annual flowers almost anywhere. Annuals are perfect for flowerbeds, borders, pots and window boxes, hanging baskets or as temporary ground covers and fillers.

Annuals are non-woody plants that complete their life cycle in one season, ending with seed production. Some annual plant do reseeds themselves, such as marigolds and appear to have a perennial habit.

Use in the Landscape


Annual flowers can play an important role in a well-designed landscape. Compared to most perennial plants, annuals require more maintenance and water, so plant annual beds need to be near water sources and able to be maintained. Try to keep annuals in beds with other annuals or plants with similar water requirements. Planting annuals randomly throughout the landscape not only increases maintenance, but also lessens the plants’ aesthetic impact.

Although annual flowers and plants bring a variety of interesting textures and forms to the landscape, they are most notable for the color they provide. You will get the most effect in the landscape by planting in a simple mixture of color. Color themes using related colors, such as red, orange and yellow (warm colors) or green, blue and purple (cool colors) work well. Warm-colored flowers bring excitement into the landscape and tend to appear close to the viewer, making the space in which they are planted feel smaller. Cool-colored flowers, however, appear more distant, creating a greater sense of garden space. Cool colors also tend to relax and soothe viewers.

Using shades of one color (including white) is also a popular and attractive theme. Another pleasing effect comes from using complementary colors – those colors found directly opposite each other on a color wheel – such as orange and blue or purple and yellow. These combinations form high color contrasts and create a lot of excitement and interest in the landscape. Always be aware of surrounding or backdrop colors to achieve a coordinated overall design. The best way to set off annual flower colors and textures is to provide a simple backdrop of green vegetation.

Annuals are an excellent way to draw attention to building and home entrances, walkways and outdoor living spaces and to provide homeowners and visitors with pleasing “up-close” visual and fragrant experiences. Again, it is important to be selective in placing annuals so their ability to draw attention is not diluted.

Plant height is another important design consideration. Typically, a flower border has the tallest plants in the back, medium height plants in the middle and short plants in the front. An island planting places the tallest plants in the middle of the bed, surrounded by plants of decreasing heights.

The style of the annual bed should be compatible with the overall style of your landscape design. A planting can have either a formal or informal design, depending on the arrangement of the planting. Formal designs, for example, tend to be made up of geometric lines and symmetry, with strong focal points that attract the eye. In contrast, informal designs have curved, flowing lines and natural forms, follow natural terrain and create an asymmetrical balance within the planting.

Before planting, the physical characteristics of the site must be evaluated. Consider the site’s soil type, fertility, drainage and its exposure to sun and wind. Compare site characteristics with specific plant requirements. An annual plant adapted to site conditions grows and flowers more vigorously and has fewer pest problems. Some plants intolerant of heat and sun may perform adequately when planted in part shade.

Annual flowers offer flexibility in landscape design. Any planting can be changed each growing season, creating an entirely new design. As a part of their quick change potential, annuals can be used as a temporary solution in a problem site.

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