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The Best Annual Plant Combinations

By Bobbi Keffer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Whether planting an annual garden bed or filling containers, choosing the right flower combination is key to a beautiful space. There are no right or wrong answers to what should be planted together except to follow sunlight and watering requirements. The best combinations are about what you wish the space to accomplish and what your tastes are. Successful spaces are about textures found in different shaped blooms and leaves of various heights. Ideal spaces are also planted in odd numbers because it is naturally appealing to the eye. With that in mind, the best plant combination is not in what plants to put together but what types of annuals work best together no matter what type of combination you use.

The Showstopper

Showstoppers are your focal plants in your garden area. Many people overlook annuals as "showstoppers" and instead think of them as all fillers in the perennial garden, but an annual garden can be the most amazing part of your yard.

Consider hollyhocks, dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and phlox as the focal points of your next garden design. All of these have regal stalks, distinct floral designs and brilliant colors.

Some showstoppers can also act as fillers, depending on your need and garden design. Osteospermum, with its bright, daisy-like bunches of flowers, makes an excellent foreground for a birdbath, and petunias spilling out of a hanging basket is definitely eye-catching.

The Fillers

Fillers play an important role in both the garden bed and container garden. Filler plants create the garden, taking your space from a one-plant show to a real medley. Chose fillers based on your own tastes and your plans for the space. Chose fillers for a particular colored theme or whatever your fancy may be. Whether a daisy garden, country garden, cutting garden, there are fillers for whatever your fancy. You may wish to chose fillers for a different leaf texture or to provide consistent blooms between seasonal showstoppers. Just be sure that you follow sunlight requirement for your plants.

There are hundreds of options of filler flowers for a garden, depending on your design. Some of them would include snapdragons, petunias, marigolds, pansies, viola, pentas, impatiens, begonias, verbena, sweet pea, osteospermum, coleus and dusty miller.

The Spillers

Not to be an after-thought, your spillers are those plants that trail through gardens, climb up trellises and spill over the sides of containers, out into sidewalks and over top of rocks. Spillers soften the edges and create a lush, warm feel to your garden areas.

Some of the best spiller annuals include: Wave petunias, a spreading variety of petunia with slightly smaller trumpet-like flowers; nasturtiums, with their bright colored multiple blooms that are also edible; sweet potato vine, loved for its gorgeous foliage; and edging lobelia, a true tender perennial that is grown like an annual because of its inability to overwinter in most cooler-climate growing zones. The low-growing Sweet Alyssum offers a carpet of tiny white or purple fragrant blooms that attract butterflies and honey bees. Sweet Alyssum is also a self-seeder that will pop up in surprising places along your garden or path the next growing season.


About the Author


Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University to study education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills reusing, recycling and reinventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.