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Annual Short Border Plants

By S.F. Heron ; Updated September 21, 2017

Adding concrete, wooden or plastic edging to the garden creates a sharp line defining the garden space. Border plants serve the same purpose, lining the edge of the garden with a colorful display of flowers and foliage. Low-lying border plants can accent taller perennials and annuals by delineating the garden edge. Annual short border plants include many varieties of plants that produce blooms throughout the growing season. Annual plants survive for only a single season to provide stunning, immediate color in the home garden.


This unique plant produces yellow and purple blooms that create striking annual border color. The Johnny-jump-up grows to a height of 10 inches and mounds nicely to drape over garden edges. This plant blooms from March to August with consistent deadheading of old blooms. Johnny-jump-ups prefer full sun and well-drained soil. This plant is also called wild pansy for its resemblance to the common low-growing annual. This member of the violet family features smaller flowers than the pansy, but exhibits considerable heat tolerance in dry garden areas.

Moss Rose

Moss rose works well as an edging plant to complement perennials and shrubs. Foliage is light green and inconspicuous as a backdrop to the stunning floral display of this plant. Moss rose produces loosely wound orange, rose white and yellow flowers. This plant tolerates drought conditions well and looks beautiful as an edging accent plant along a garden edge. Moss rose is hardy in all USDA hardiness zones and flowers throughout the summer until the first two to three frosts kill this hardy annual.

Lobelia Erinus

Lobelia grows to a height of 6 inches and produces abundant purple flowers amid a spreading mass of vibrant green foliage. Lobelia cannot tolerate dry conditions and prefers partial shade areas of the garden. Growth is compact to a width of about 1 foot. This plant prefers cool soil conditions and well-drained soil. Lobelia's foliage features oblong leaves on thin stems that becomes the perfect backdrop for the vibrant purple flowers. These fast-growing plants are hardy in all USDA zones.

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum produces a wealth of purple, white or red flowers that overwhelm the spiky foliage of this hardy annual border plant. Alyssum responds well in full to partial sun and prefers dry soil after initial transplant. This plant grows to a height of 1 foot that makes it quite tall as an annual border plant. However, sweet alyssum mounds nicely and will cascade readily over edging bricks and rocks walls. Sweet alyssum gives off a delicate fragrance that makes this the perfect addition to any garden. Blooms appear from May to September. Sweet alyssum is hardy to all USDA zones.