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Annual Plants in the Northeast

By Bobbi Keffer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Annuals are the perfect complement to a perennial garden or container for a burst of color that will last the whole growing season. This vast collection of plants that grow for one season comes in a nearly unimaginable array of sizes, shapes and colors. Inexpensively sold either as seed or in cell packs of seedlings, annuals are available in the spring at both full-service garden centers and department store garden sections.

In the Northeast, annuals are best planted in mid-to-late May after the threat of frost. After planting, watch weather reports for the first few weeks and cover annuals if cold weather is expected.

Focal Plants

Focal-point plants vary from gardener to gardener, depending on the individual tastes and needs of each, but generally a focal point annual would be the plants used as the main component of the garden. They could be chosen for color, height or abundance of blooms, whatever you want as your design. Some sun-loving annuals that are excellent as focal-point plants in the garden would include larkspur, cosmos, Mexican sunflower, marigolds, snapdragons, celosia, sunflower, zinnia, petunia and Texas bluebonnet.

Annual plants that are perfect focal points for more shady areas include impatiens, begonia and fuchsia.

Filler Plants

A filler plant in one gardener's space is a focal point in another's. Fillers are generally chosen for their ability to provide an abundance of blooms to frame the focal point blooms. They may be chosen for their contrasting or complimenting color or for their interesting foliage.

Common filler annuals include bachelor buttons, baby's breath, African daisy, amaranth, coleus, four o'clocks, marigolds, petunia, pansy, lobelia, periwinkle, snapdragon, strawflower, sweet pea and Sweet William.

Trailers, Climbers and Ground Covers

A number of annuals can be grown to fill up rock gardens, tumble out of containers or climb trellises. Using these plants with a combination of focal plants and fillers, and you'll have a lush, gorgeous garden. Grow portulacas, trailing varieties of petunia, alyssum and vinca as border plants on our bed or to fill in a rock garden. Annuals such as lobelia, nasturtium, verbena, pansy, petunias and calendulas are perfect to spill over the tops of hanging baskets or containers.

Climbers such as morning glory, cardinal climber, cathedral bells, cypress vine, scarlet runner beans and vining varieties of sweet peas can intermingle on trellises or fences.


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.