Annuals are plants that sprout, flower, produce seeds and die in a single growing season. As their name suggests, this typically occurs over one year. Annuals are popular for the variety of species available, encompassing an array of hues to add a rainbow of colors to any landscaped flower bed. Instead of planting an entire bed with a single annual species, consider these ideas for combining annuals for an eye-catching display.
Combine annual flowers using complementary colors--colors that are opposite each other on a traditional color wheel. The contrast is pleasing to the eye and can make individual colors seem bright and vibrant. Obtain a color wheel from your library or a local arts school, or print one off online (see Resources). Take the wheel to your garden store or nursery when purchasing flowers. Using the complementary colors yellow and blue, for example, pair marigolds and poppies with delphinium, Nigellia or blue verbena.
A combination of annuals that are the same height can appear static and boring, and may block some plants from view. Show off your annuals' vibrant colors and foliage shapes by layering plants. Combine tall annuals with short annuals for a lush, thick appearance that displays your garden in its entirety. In rectangular beds, put the taller plants in the back. In circular beds, combine the annuals so the taller plants are in the middle. Tall annual flowers include salvias and cleome. Pair them with shorter annuals such as wishbone flowers and creeping zinnias.
Just as flowers range in size and hue, the plants themselves have different shapes and textures. Some annual flower plants form dense clumps, while others appear wispy and thin. Combining different textures can be visually pleasing and makes your flower bed appear more natural and full. Blend dense clumps of flowers like alyssum with loose, open plants such as chrysanthemums and bachelor's buttons.