Annuals are popular plants with most home gardeners. These inexpensive, brilliantly colored flowers, which bloom for only one season in most climates, usually flower all summer long and are perfect for containers, borders or filling in the gaps between perennial plants. In most cases, annuals are also easy to care for, making them a terrific choice for beginning gardeners or children who want to learn how to take care of a plant.
Impatiens are one of the most popular annual plants in America, according to Michael Dana, a master gardener at Purdue University. They also have the distinction of being one of the few annuals that can thrive even in shady conditions. Impatiens feature small, brightly colored flowers that will bloom all summer long in well-drained soil. Let the top 2 inches of the soil dry out before watering them, and deadhead the plants (pluck off the spent flowers) periodically to encourage the growth of new blooms.
Pansies come in many varieties, but it is the two-toned ones that are the most popular with home gardeners. The cheerful "monkey faces" on these flowers make them one of the most commonly purchased annuals. Pansies, like most annuals, should be planted in full sun and deadheaded periodically. They spread rapidly and are especially attractive in hanging baskets.
Marigolds are a popular choice for gardeners who want late summer and fall blooming. These flowers, which come in a wide variety of autumn colors, thrive in full sunlight and well-drained soil. Depending on the variety, they can grow up to 3 feet in height, which makes them one of the tallest growing annuals. Marigolds' love of rich soil makes them a good choice for planting in containers. They also make excellent flowers for vegetable gardens, as they are known to repel pests that munch on vegetables.
The wax begonia is so named for its dark, waxy-looking green leaves. This annual is similar to impatiens in that it is one of the few flowering annuals that will grow well in the shade. Begonias are commonly chosen for their ease of care, prolific growth and wide variety of flower and foliage types and colors.