Graceful Gardens

Helping You Bring the Beauty of Nature to Your Home

, ,

7 Best Annual Flowers for Beginner Gardeners

Nasturtium is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.

Table of Contents

Annual plants provide bursts of vibrant color throughout the entire season. They are particularly beneficial for novice gardeners due to their forgiving nature. There is no timing involved. You plant them in the proper spot and they will do the rest.

Annuals can fill in lag times when your perennial border may not be in full bloom. Since many of them reseed, they often act like a perennial and grow again the following year without you having to do the planting. The flowers I have chosen are the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners and are super easy to grow from seed or transplant from packs! These old-fashioned varieties of annual plants will give you a big bang for your buck!

Just What Is an Annual Flower?

An annual flower is a type of flowering plant that completes its life cycle, from seed germination to seed production, within one growing season. This means that an annual flower typically grows, blooms, produces seeds, and dies all within the span of a single year.

Unlike perennial flowers, which can live for multiple years, most annual flowers must be replanted each year if you want them to continue growing in your garden. Some annuals though will drop their seed and grow again next year without you having to start over again. Just don’t weed them out the following spring! Many annual flowers are also prized for their ability to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the health and biodiversity of gardens and natural landscapes.

Criteria for Selecting Annual Flowers

We all have to consider climate, soil, sunlight, and water requirements when choosing annual flowers to ensure optimal growth and bloom. My favorites happen to be extremely adaptable, tend to reseed, and are easy to grow.

Cleome is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Cleome

Cleome: The Spider Flower

Tall, airy, and graceful, Cleome is adorned with huge flower clusters that open daily. They love lots of sun and are drought and heat tolerant. Cleome fills out the back of the border beautifully or can stand on their own. Most universities include Cleome on their deer resistant plant list. Cleome reseeds itself in my garden year after year. You can purchase my favorite variety of Cleome “Queen Mix” here.

Here are some general guidelines for growing cleome:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Cleome prefers full sun, so select a location in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. It can tolerate partial shade, but it may not flower as profusely.
  2. Prepare the Soil: Cleome prefers well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Before planting, work some organic matter into the soil to improve its fertility and drainage.
  3. Planting Cleome Seeds: Cleome can be started from seeds indoors or sown directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. If starting indoors, sow the seeds about 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost date. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep in seed starting mix, and keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate.
  4. Transplanting Seedlings: If you started your cleome indoors, transplant the seedlings into your garden once the soil has warmed up and all danger of frost has passed. Space the seedlings about 12-18 inches apart to allow for proper airflow and growth. I like to grow cleome in groupings of 6 or more.
  5. Fertilizing: Cleome doesn’t typically require a lot of fertilizer. If your soil is poor, you can fertilize with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers.
Cosmos is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Cosmos

Cosmos: The Cosmic Beauty

Cosmos flowers, known for their dainty appearance and vibrant hues, are ideal for beginner gardeners. Their resilience to various growing conditions makes them a popular choice for novice enthusiasts and they will often reseed. Washington State University lists Cosmos as a deer-resistant plant.

Cosmos are delightful annual flowers that are easy to grow and add vibrant color to gardens. Here are the steps to grow cosmos successfully:

  1. Selecting a Location: Choose a sunny location in your garden. Cosmos thrives in full sun but can tolerate some light shade. Too much shade means less flowers.
  2. Preparing the Soil: Cosmos prefer well-drained soil. Work the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches and mix in some compost or aged manure to improve fertility and drainage.
  3. Sowing Seeds: Cosmos can be grown from seeds directly sown into the garden or started indoors. If you’re starting indoors, sow the seeds 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Plant the seeds in small pots filled with seed starting mix. Keep the soil moist and provide adequate light until the seedlings are ready to be transplanted outdoors.
  4. Transplanting Seedlings: If you started cosmos indoors, transplant the seedlings into your garden after the danger of frost has passed. Space them about 12 to 18 inches apart to allow for proper airflow and growth.
  5. Direct Seeding: If you prefer to sow cosmos seeds directly into the garden, wait until after the last frost date. Sow the seeds thinly and cover them lightly with soil. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate and the seedlings establish themselves.
  6. Fertilizing: Cosmos are not heavy feeders, but you can apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to the soil before planting or use a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season according to the package instructions.
  7. Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming throughout the season. Deadheading also helps prevent the plant from self-seeding excessively.

You can find my favorite variety Cosmos  “Sonata Mix” here.

Nasturtium is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Nasturtium

Nasturtiums: The Edible Flowers

Nasturtiums not only adorn the garden with their cheerful blooms but also serve as edible delicacies. Their peppery flavor adds a unique dimension to culinary creations, enticing both the palate and the eye.

Nasturtiums are now a regular feature in our garden and pots. They have all the features you want in a plant: carefree, edible, and most importantly colorful vibrant flowers. My particular favorite is the trailing Nasturtium “Alaska” which come in a mix of vibrant shades of yellow, cherry, salmon and crimson. The hummingbirds just love them! The University of Illinois puts Nasturtium on their list of deer resistant plants. Here’s how to grow nasturtiums:

  1. Selecting a Location: Choose a sunny or partially shaded location in your garden. I grow them in a fairly shady area and they still bloom profusely. Nasturtiums can tolerate a variety of soil types but prefer well-drained soil.
  2. Sowing Seeds: Nasturtiums are typically grown from seeds. You can sow the seeds directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and space them 8-12 inches apart. You can also start seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. If possible, plant them in biodegradable pots that can be planted directly into the garden to avoid disturbing the roots during transplanting.
  3. Soil and Watering: Nasturtiums prefer soil that is moderately fertile and well-draining. Water the seeds and seedlings regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Once established, nasturtiums are somewhat drought tolerant.
  4. Sunlight: Nasturtiums thrive in full sun but can tolerate a fair amount of shade, especially in hotter climates.
  5. Fertilizing: Nasturtiums don’t require heavy fertilization. In fact, too much fertilizer can result in excessive foliage growth at the expense of flowers. If your soil is poor, you can amend it with compost or a balanced fertilizer before planting.
  6. Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming. Deadheading also prevents the plant from putting energy into seed production, which can prolong the flowering period.
  7. Pest and Disease Control: Nasturtiums are relatively pest and disease resistant. However, they can attract aphids. Monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures if you notice any pest infestations. In many cases, spraying the plants with a strong jet of water can help dislodge pests.
  8. Harvesting: Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and have a peppery flavor. You can add them to salads, sandwiches, or use them as a garnish. Harvest the flowers and leaves as needed throughout the growing season.
Marigold is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Marigold and Monarch Butterfly

Marigold: The Sun-Kissed Flower

Marigolds, basking in the sun with their radiant petals, bring warmth and charm to any garden landscape. Their versatility and pest-repelling properties make them indispensable for novice gardeners. There are so many colorful variations, too! Check out all the possibilites here. They are so easy to grow that we used them to teach 1st graders how to grow flowers. Here’s how you can grow marigolds:

  1. Selecting a Location: Choose a sunny spot in your garden for planting marigolds. Marigolds thrive in full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade.
  2. Preparing the Soil: Marigolds prefer well-drained soil with average fertility. Before planting, work the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches and incorporate organic matter such as compost to improve soil structure and fertility.
  3. Sowing Seeds: Marigolds can be grown from seeds, which can be sown directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and space them 8 to 10 inches apart. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes about 5 to 7 days.
  4. Transplanting Seedlings: If you prefer to start marigolds indoors, sow the seeds in small pots or trays filled with seed starting mix about 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Transplant the seedlings into your garden once they have developed a few sets of true leaves and the soil has warmed up.
  5. Watering: Water marigolds regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Once established, marigolds are somewhat drought tolerant, but they will perform best with regular watering, especially during dry periods.
  6. Fertilizing: Marigolds are not heavy feeders, but you can apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to the soil before planting or use a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season according to the package instructions.
  7. Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming throughout the season. Deadheading also prevents the plant from putting energy into seed production, which can prolong the flowering period.
  8. Harvesting Seeds: If you want to save seeds for the following year, allow some of the flowers to mature and dry on the plant. Once the seed heads have dried, collect the seeds and store them in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to plant them.
Larkspur is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Larkspur

Larkspur: The Elegant Bloom

Larkspur, with its graceful stature and delicate petals, exudes an aura of elegance in garden settings. This is the annual variety of Delphinium but they reseed every year so will come back like a perennial. If you are in a warm climate and have never been able to grow delphiniums then this is the flower for you! Here’s how to grow larkspur:

  1. Selecting a Location: Choose a location in your garden that receives full sun or partial shade.
  2. Preparing the Soil: Larkspur thrives in well-drained soil with good fertility. Before planting, work the soil to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches and amend it with compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and fertility.
  3. Sowing Seeds: Larkspur is typically grown from seeds. You can sow the seeds directly into the garden in the early spring or late fall. Scatter the seeds over the prepared soil and lightly press them into the soil surface. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes about 10 to 20 days.
  4. Thin Seedlings: Once the seedlings have emerged and developed their first true leaves, thin them to about 6 to 12 inches apart to allow for proper airflow and growth.
  5. Deadheading: Remove spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming and prevent the plant from self-seeding excessively.
Butterfly Weed or Asclepia is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Butterflyweed or Asclepia

Butterflyweed Asclepia: The Monarch’s Favorite

Butterflies love the nectar of this bright and colorful plant. The annual butterflyweed, is also known as Asclepias curassavica. It is valued for its striking flowers, ecological role in supporting pollinators, and ease of cultivation in garden settings. It is also deer-resistant. You can learn about other deer-reistant plants here. Here are the steps to grow annual butterflyweed:

  1. Selecting a Location: Choose a sunny location in your garden for planting annual butterflyweed. This plant thrives in full sun and requires at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
  2. Preparing the Soil: Annual butterflyweed prefers well-drained soil. Work the soil to loosen it and amend it with compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility and drainage.
  3. Sowing Seeds: You can sow butterflyweed seeds directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Scatter the seeds over the prepared soil and lightly press them into the soil surface. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which usually takes about 7 to 21 days.
  4. Transplanting Seedlings: If you prefer to start butterflyweed indoors, sow the seeds in small pots or trays filled with seed starting mix about 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Transplant the seedlings into your garden once they have developed a few sets of true leaves and the soil has warmed up.
  5. Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist, especially during dry periods. Water the plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, which can lead to disease.
  6. Attracting Butterflies: Once your butterflyweed begins to bloom, it will attract butterflies with its bright flowers and nectar-rich blooms. Avoid using pesticides in your garden, as they can harm butterflies and other beneficial insects.
Sunflower is one of the best annual flowers for beginner gardeners.
Sunflower

Sunflower: The Bright Star of the Garden

Sunflowers are towering symbols of good cheer and optimism, illuminating gardens with their golden crowns. Their robust growth makes them a staple for beginner gardeners. There are so many Sunflower varieties to choose from. Here’s how to grow sunflowers:

  1. Selecting a Location: Sunflowers thrive in full sun, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
  2. Preparing the Soil: Sunflowers prefer well-draining soil with good fertility. Before planting, work the soil to a depth of about 6-8 inches and incorporate compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure and fertility.
  3. Sowing Seeds: Sunflowers can be grown from seeds directly sown into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Plant the seeds about 1 inch deep and space them 6-12 inches apart, depending on the variety. Larger varieties may require more spacing.
  4. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged, especially during the germination and early growth stages. Once established, sunflowers are somewhat drought tolerant but will benefit from regular watering, especially during dry periods.
  5. Support: Tall varieties of sunflowers may require support to prevent them from flopping over in strong winds. You can provide support by staking individual plants or using trellises.
  6. Fertilizing: Sunflowers are not heavy feeders, but you can apply a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer to the soil before planting or use a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season according to the package instructions.
  7. Harvesting Seeds: If you’re growing sunflowers for their seeds, allow the flower heads to mature and dry on the plant. Once the seeds have fully matured, you can harvest them by cutting the flower heads and removing the seeds.

In a Nutshell

Cultivating annual flowers is an inspiring experience for novice gardeners, offering an array of vibrant colors and blooms that bring joy throughout the growing season. These forgiving plants require minimal timing and effort, making them an ideal choice for those just beginning their gardening journey. Whether it’s the graceful elegance of larkspurs, the radiant warmth of marigolds, or the cheerful allure of nasturtiums, each annual variety adds its own unique charm to the garden landscape. By selecting these annual flowers and following simple growing guidelines, you can experience both success and the joy of nature’s beauty.

FAQ – Best Annual Flowers For Beginner Gardeners

What are annual flowers, and why are they suitable for beginner gardeners?

Annual flowers complete their life cycle, from seed germination to seed production, within one growing season. They are ideal for beginner gardeners because they are forgiving, require minimal timing, and provide instant color throughout the season.

Do annual flowers need to be replanted every year?

Yes, most annual flowers need to be replanted each year if you want them to continue growing in your garden. However, many annuals, like nasturtiums and larkspur, may reseed themselves and grow again the following year without requiring replanting.

What criteria should I consider when selecting annual flowers for my garden?

When selecting annual flowers, consider factors such as climate, soil, sunlight, and water requirements to ensure optimal growth and bloom. Choose varieties that are adaptable, tend to reseed, and are easy to grow, especially for beginner gardeners.

How do I grow cleome in my garden?

To grow cleome successfully, choose a sunny location, prepare well-draining soil, and plant seeds directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Keep the soil moist, and thin seedlings as needed. Cleome is known for its resilience and ability to reseed in the garden.

What are some tips for growing cosmos in my garden?

Cosmos thrive in sunny locations with well-draining soil. You can start cosmos from seeds indoors or sow them directly into the garden after the last frost date. Provide adequate spacing for proper growth, deadhead spent flowers, and avoid over-fertilizing.

How can I grow nasturtiums in my garden?

Nasturtiums prefer sunny to partially shaded locations with well-draining soil. Sow seeds directly into the garden after the danger of frost has passed, and keep the soil consistently moist. Nasturtiums are relatively pest-resistant and can be harvested for their edible flowers and leaves.

What are some key steps for growing marigolds in my garden?

To grow marigolds successfully, select a sunny spot with well-drained soil, sow seeds or transplant seedlings after the last frost date, and keep the soil evenly moist. Deadhead spent flowers regularly to encourage continuous blooming, and consider harvesting seeds for future planting.

How do I cultivate larkspur in my garden?

Larkspur thrives in full sun or partial shade with well-draining soil. Sow seeds directly into the garden and thin seedlings as needed. Deadhead spent flowers to promote continuous blooming, and enjoy larkspur’s elegant presence in the garden.

What are the key steps for growing butterflyweed in my garden?

Butterflyweed, also known as Asclepias curassavica, prefers sunny locations with well-draining soil. Sow seeds directly into the garden or start indoors before transplanting. Keep the soil moist, and attract butterflies with its bright flowers and nectar-rich blooms.

How can I grow sunflowers  successfully in my garden?

Sunflowers thrive in full sun with well-draining soil. Sow seeds directly into the garden after the last frost date, provide support for tall varieties, and keep the soil consistently moist. Harvest seeds for future use and enjoy the vibrant beauty of sunflowers in your garden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Welcome Gardening Friends!
Amanda in Greenhouse with blooming Delphiniums. She loves growing flowers!

Amanda Shenstone

Flower Lover, Grower, Gardener

As part of Graceful Gardens for decades, I’ve garnered a wealth of knowledge about growing Delphiniums, perennials and annual flowers, and I am eager to share these insights with all of you.

Amanda Shenstone

Sponsors
Check out our organic gardening products at True Leaf Market
Save on Seeds
Get 10% off Your First Order
Disclaimer

This site contains affiliate links to products we wholeheartedly believe in. Your purchases through these links help us bring you more valuable flower-growing content. Thank you for being so supportive!

Explore
Resources

2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map – Learn which perennial plants are most likely to thrive at your location.

Bootstrap FarmerReliable equipment, supportive service, and helpful resources for starting your own plants. high-quality, rare and hard to find flower seeds to bring your gardens the interest and intrigue of growing something your neighbors may not.

True Leaf MarketWonderful assortment of high quality seeds and just about anything else you need for the garden at great prices.

Eden Brothers Seed CompanyHigh-quality, rare and hard to find flower seeds will bring your gardens the interest and intrigue of growing something your neighbors may not.

Get inspired with my weekly garden tips!