Everyone may say "brr" and visualize igloos and snow when Alaska is mentioned, but few realize that the mild, short summers with long days allow many annual flowers to look spectacular. The best annual plants are easy to grow and don't require special maintenance or tricks to bloom. The most inexpensive annual plants are started from seed in a southern window several weeks before the last spring frosts and then transplanted outdoors.
Available in an array of flower colors from deep purple to red and even in bi-colored stripes, petunias bask in the warm, sunny days of the Alaskan summer. Deadhead, pick off old withered flowers, to encourage continual re-flowering, or choose petunia varieties that are "ever-blooming". These types shed their old flowers and flower with minimal care. Petunias look superbly in flower border foregrounds or in hanging baskets.
Appreciating cool, sunny days and coo nights, snapdragons are among the first plants to set out in spring, even when occasional light frosts still occur. Dwarf and taller, old-fashioned cut flower varieties of "snaps" work well, often they sprout new flower stems when the initial flower stalk is cut and used in vases indoors.
This dual-purpose annual makes a nice edging or ground cover in the vegetable garden as its leaves and especially the orange or yellow flowers are edible. The large seeds are easy to sow, too.
This annual loves warmer temperatures and is easy to grow from seed. Choose the taller, bushy varieties known as African types, while the shorter, ankle-high varieties comprise French types.
Low growing, you can use sweet alyssum as a sprawling ground cover to grow under other annuals or to spill onto sidewalks on the edges of the flower border. Sweet alyssum's tiny flowers are sweetly fragrant and come in white, red-violet and pink shades depending on variety, such as those in the Easter Bonnet series.
Blue Floss Flower
Also called ageratum, sunny skies and temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees F. allow them to produce perfectly shaped mounded plants topped with tiny seas urchin-like flowers. Usually powdery blue, some selections of the blue floss flower are white or rosy pink.
Easy to grow from seed, bachelor's button are fast-growing and after they bloom the seed heads shatter and re-sprout in the garden. Lovely in a wild, meadow garden setting, this annual's flowers are flattened and are purple, pink, blue-violet or white.
Just like marigolds, zinnias are both easy to grow from seed and enjoy warm temperatures. There are both upright bushy zinnia varieties as well as dwarf types that grow into tidy globes about 6 inches tall. The flowers are full, flattened daisies or rounded balls with petals in all colors except blue and purple.
Sunflowers flower are easy to grow from seed. Choose the shorter growing varieties so you can see the blooms before the first frosts that may return in late August. Many varieties exist with various yellow or red petals and different flower head sizes.
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