Annual flowers are the showoffs of the summer garden. Although some perennial plants bloom sooner than annuals, these big, bright braggarts bloom for the entire summer. Give them the right amount of sun and they’ll justify the effort needed to plant, deadhead and pull them each year. Use them to fill in gaps and back up the limited bloom of their more sedate perennial neighbors.
Most annuals tolerate full sun in the garden but some revel in it. Ageratum, larkspur, calendula, morning glory, stocks, spider flowers (cleomes), Iceland and Shirley poppies, Drummond phlox and Marguerite daisies all grow best in full sun. Zinnias and marigolds come in all heights and are used from the front of the border to the back.
Everlastings—plants that grow well in dry conditions like sunflowers, strawflowers, baby’s breath, money plant and bells-of-Ireland—can be dried to use in winter arrangements. Annual flowers that bloom in the garden with full sun include many tender perennials grown as annuals. Geraniums, dahlias, periwinkles, bellflowers and pansies all need full sun. With persistent removal of blooms, these perennials grown as annuals continue flowering throughout the summer.
Annual plants grown for their foliage include iresine (bloodleaf), amaranthus (summer poinsettia) and brassicas like ornamental cabbage and kale. Clarkia, cosmos, cornflower, rose mallow and plains coreopsis are American native “wildflowers” that love the sun.
Geraniums, petunias and marigolds are favorite container plants for sunny porches. Salvia, ageratum and lobelia grace patriotic pots with white geraniums or fan flowers. Annual herbs make good container citizens: dill, cilantro, basil, curly-leaved parsley and summer savory can be kept safe in sunny pots. Brassica lend an exotic look to autumn containers.
Coleus, New Guinea impatiens, smaller marigolds, zinnias and snapdragons are as at home in containers as in the garden—as long as they are placed in full sun.
Plants That Love the Morning Sun
Many annuals love the morning sun but their colors may fade in the heat of the afternoon. These plants are often classified as “sun" or "part-sun” plants. Begonias, balsam, lobelia, innocence and the hollyhock relative, rose mallow all fall into this category.
Foliage plants like purple perilla (beefsteak), dusty miller grow lusher when treated to dappled shade after noon. Annual hibiscus will grow in full or part sun and prefer very moist soil.
Annual ornamental grasses that prefer sun or morning sun are fountain grass, Mexican feather grass, umbrella grass, several varieties of papyrus, false dracaena, liriope (lilyturf) and many types of sedge.