Annual flowers are nice to add to perennial gardens, use under trees, or use as “filler” plants while a garden grows. If desired, plant a different selection of annuals each season to add different colors year to year, or different textures. Whatever the reason for wanting annuals for a garden, finding a quality one is a priority for many gardeners. Choices can include cosmos, love-lies-bleeding, tampala, strawflower, and rose periwinkle.
Cosmos, or Cosmos bipinnatus, is from the Asteraceae/Compositae, or aster/daisy, family. It will attract butterflies to the garden and is good for fast growth. Leaves grow to10 inches long and flowers 2 to 3 inches wide. Cosmos flowers are red, white, purple or pink. Cosmos require full sun, water during droughts, and well drained soil. They are easy to grow from seed.
Love-lies-bleeding, or Amaranthus caudatus, is from the Amaranthaceae, or Amaranth, family. It has purplish red flowers in tassles up to 2 feet long on a bush that reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. It requires full sun and a dry, nutrient-poor soil. It will grow well from seed. There are 60 Amaranth species, most are weedy and invasive.
Tampala, or Amaranthus tricolor, is from the Amaranthaceae, or Amaranth, family. It gets 2 to 5 feet tall with leaves in the hues of red, yellow, green and gold. It requires full sun and a well drained soil. A single plant can have 100,000 seeds, and it seeds readily. It can get invasive if not well maintained.
Strawflower, or Bracteantha bracteata, is from the Asteraceae/Compositae, or aster/daisy, family. It will get 3 to 4 feet tall with leaves up to 5 inches long. Flowers are ray like and can be in varied colors. It requires full sun and a moist well drained soil. It is propagated via seed.
Rose periwinkle, or Catharanthus roseus, is from the Apocynaceae, or dogbane, family. It is a fast growing evergreen vine that can get 2 to 3 feet tall and equally as wide. The tubular flowers have five petals in pink, purple, red or white. It requires full sun or partial shade, and must be watered during establishment. It can be propagated via seed.