An annual plant is one that sprouts from seed, grows, lives, blooms and dies off in the period of just one year. Most people replant new annuals each spring from seeds or small starter seedling plants, but it's not uncommon for annuals to drop their own seeds before dying as well. When seeds are dropped naturally you may not have to buy new seeds or starter plants for the flower or vegetable bed, because they'll sprout up on their own when the weather gets warm enough.
Most vegetables grow as annuals and there are hundreds of annual flowers to choose from as well.
Eschscholzia californica is an annual that grows wild in California and other western states, and has become a popular addition to gardens across the world. Growing up to 1 foot tall, it's a small fast-growing plant that blooms in brilliant yellow, orange or red and has silvery pale green fern-like leaves.
Cosmos sulphureus is a very easy-to-grow annual that has become very popular in recent years because of it's showy splash of color and it's ability to attract butterflies. Orange cosmos is easy to grow but tender to frost, and can range in height from 1 to 7 feet. The flowers can be a bright yellow, deep orange, or rich mahogany in color.
Calendula officinalis is known by many names, including pot marigold, English marigold and calendula. Whichever name you use, this cute little annual is an old friend to gardeners around the world. Known for keeping away pests, the marigold can grow from 12 to 30 inches in height with bright green leaves and yellow to orange flowers. Marigolds like cool weather but are not tolerant of frosts.
Ipomoea tricolor is an annual that seeds so easily it often grows like a perennial instead. A long trailing vine that will easily climb, the morning glory has bright heart-shaped green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers in a wide variety of colors. Morning glory vines grow so fast that they're an excellent choice for creating a quick shade or screened area. The flowers on this vine open in the early morning hours and live for just one day before falling off.