Annual Flowers in the Midwest

Annual flowers are those that complete one life cycle in one growing season. Annual flowers have one purpose: to produce seeds. For this reason, if you keep the spent flowers trimmed, annual plants will keep producing more blooms, trying to make seeds. Annual flowering plants are available in hundreds of colors, shapes and sizes. They are typically less expensive than perennial plants, making them an economical choice for any garden.


Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) is regarded as a weed by farmers because wild varieties can grow and spread extensively throughout fields. The website Botanical lists various medicinal properties that are traditionally attributed to cornflowers. Cornflowers have been used as a tonic or stimulant, as a treatment for infectious diseases, for bruises, as wound dressings and in making an eyewash. Cornflowers grow to be about 30 inches tall. They are rather wispy plants, with very elongated leaves. The flowers are about 1 inch in diameter, and are held atop long stems. The most common flower colors are shades of blue, but any seed pack blend will also produce a variety of violet, magenta, pink and white flowers as well. Cornflowers are easy to grow. Those seed planted outdoors in the spring will germinate in about 10 days, and the plants will bloom about four to five weeks later. Keep the faded flowers picked for blooms all season.


According to Texas A&M University Extension information, two kinds of cosmos are commonly grown in annual flower gardens, Cosmos sulphureus and Cosmos bipinnatus. The difference can be observed in the leaves and flower color. Cosmos sulphureus leaves are long, lobed and hairy, and the flowers are yellow, red or orange. By contrast, Cosmos bipinnatus foliage is feathery and fern-like, and the flowers are shades of pink, magenta and white. Cosmos readily reseeds. Once planted with cosmos, a garden plot will revive itself every spring with new plants. Cosmos plants can get to be 5 feet tall, and they can become unruly. Cut the flowers to enjoy them indoors. If seed pods develop, cut the plants back to encourage more flowers. Allow a few cosmos flowers to go to seed at the end of the season if you want the area reseeded.

Rose Moss

Rose Moss (Portulaca) is also known as purslane, sun plant and wax pink. Species in the United States are used mainly as ornamental annual flowers, but the Plant Biology website states that in Greece, purslane is used for culinary purposes. It is a succulent plant with smooth, pink-tinged stems and thick, needle-like leaves. The flowers bloom in white, yellow and shades of red and pink. Rose moss flowers have delicate petals that resemble tissue paper. Rose moss seeds are extremely tiny. They look like ground pepper. Plant the seeds in flats or in the garden in the spring when frost danger has passed. They will germinate in one to three weeks. Rose moss grows rapidly, reaching its mature height of 6 to 10 inches in about three weeks. The plants will soon be covered with flowers. Use rose moss in beds and borders, in a rock garden, or as fill in mixed containers. It makes a good draping plant in a hanging basket. Seed pods develop quickly. Plants will reseed easily.

Keywords: midwest annual flowers, cornflower, portulaca, rose moss, cosmos, flower garden annuals

About this Author

Fern Fischer writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art. She also covers topics of organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family. For over 35 years, her work has been published in print and online.