Annuals for Your Sun Garden

 Annuals for Your Sun Garden

There are more sun-loving annual plants than can be covered in one article, so this article will discuss some of the most common and easy-to-grow species. Most annuals reseed themselves, especially marigolds, zinnias, petunias, celosia and vinca.

Annuals Have Two Main Purposes in Life

We believe their only goal is to provide us with beautiful flowers for us to enjoy. While they do this, this is not their primary goal.

They provide food for pollinators, who then pollinate our food crops.
It produces flowers until it dies and produces seeds for next year's flowers, and this process is repeated every year.


Common zinnia (Zinnia elegans) one of my favorite summer flowers. They are available in many colors and color combinations, from deep, rich colors to subtle yellow. They all produce lots of color in the garden and make wonderful flower beds, as they can grow up to four feet tall. It blooms profusely and continues to bloom until the first strong frost.

It was once considered an old-fashioned plant, but over the past few years, it has become one of the most popular annuals. It is very easy to grow and drops seed for the following season. It is not surprising that their popularity has skyrocketed.

Types of Zinnias

There are three main types of zinnia flowers: single, double and semi-double. The difference between them is the number of rows of petals and whether the center of the flower is visible or not. These are visible centers that attract pollinators.

Single with a single row of petals and a visible center.
The double pair has multiple rows of petals that hide their centers.
Semi-double plants have multiple rows of petals and visible centers.

When and Where to Plant

While you can start seeds indoors and then plant them, zinnia seeds can be sown directly into the ground when daytime temperatures are at least 60°F (16°C). Germination will not occur until the soil temperature rises to at least 74-84°F (23-28°C).

Taller varieties are best placed against the back of the garden bed, and shorter varieties in front of other plants or along borders.


The snapdragon is probably my favorite winter flower. They belong to a group called “cool season crops” but are not edible, like pansies.
Snapdragons start in the fall and bloom until warm weather comes. They reseed themselves easily, so after a year or two of planting them, you don't need to buy more – just wait for the seeds that fell from the previous season to sprout.

Diamond Frost

Diamond Frost (Euphorbia Hypericifolia) looks delicate, but it will surprise you. It's actually tough as nails. It performs best anywhere. It does best in sun or partial sun but does surprisingly well in light shade. Moreover, it is highly heat tolerant. The only downside for me is that it is only cool in zones 10a to 11b. So, it will likely die this winter here in zone 8a unless I pot it and bring it inside for the winter.

Diamond Frost appears to be largely self-sufficient and has minimal demands. However, as with all plants, they will perform at their best when compost or compost is added.

The photo above is of one that grew out of a small cutting given to me by a friend that I rooted in April. Now I'm ready to take on more cuttings to grow more plants. They add a beautiful touch to containers when planted with other flowers, but they also look beautiful when grown alone, whether in a container or in your landscape. The generic name of Diamond Frost is actually the trade name of Proven Winners.

Latex Allergy?

Diamond frost is a member of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), and like many of its cousins (the poinsettia is one of them), it oozes a milky white sap when cut. The sap is a form of latex, so if you have a latex allergy, you may want to wear protective gloves when working with Diamond Frost. Plants from the spurge family often bleed a milky white sap when cut or injured. This sap is a form of latex. Most people will have little or no reaction to the euphorbia sold by proven winners. However, people with sensitive skin or latex allergies should use caution when handling Euphorbia. Poinsettias are in the same family. If you have ever experienced skin irritation from contact with a poinsettia, you should be careful with all species of Euphorbia.


Marigolds have flower heads resembling daisies or carnations that grow singly or in groups. There are more than 50 species, but most marigolds found in the common garden are one of the following:

Tagetes erecta: Native to Mexico and Central America, this is the tallest and most upright marigold. It can reach 3 to 4 feet in height and produces large, full blooms. They are drought tolerant.

Tagetes patula: This species is often called French marigold. They are small, slender and compact. They are eye-catching and beautiful, growing anywhere from 6 inches to 2 feet tall, depending on the variety you choose. It is more suitable for rainy conditions than other species of tagetes.

Tagetes tenuifolia: These tiny little marigolds thrive in hot, dry locations and make great edging plants.

Calendula officinalis: This is not a true marigold, but what our ancestors called marigold and is used as a medicinal plant. It is often grown in herb gardens for its peppery flavor.

Where to Plant Marigolds

Marigolds need full sun and well-drained soil. If planted in the shade or in cool, moist soil, they will be susceptible to powdery mildew and will not flower well. When I was very young, I planted amaranth seeds under a large oak tree. So he rose and died within a month.

How to Care for Your Marigolds

After marigold plants establish themselves, pinching the tops of the plants can encourage them to grow bushy. This will prevent them from becoming leggy and encourage more flowering.
It is not necessary to deadhead, but plants will continue to bloom profusely if deadheads are removed regularly.
When watering marigolds, allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, then water it well.
Do not water marigolds from above. Water at the base of the plant as overwatering the leaves can lead to powdery mildew.
Stop fertilizing during growth. Too much nitrogen stimulates lush plants at the expense of flowers.

The Many Faces of Vinca

There's a wink, there's a periwinkle. They are in the same plant family, Apocynaceae, but their flower petals have different arrangements. They are both very good at replanting their seeds - almost to the point of obnoxiousness. On the other hand, they add beauty to the summer garden, and they can withstand the heat, continuing until temperatures reach freezing. Want more for next year? Don't worry. They will produce enough seed for next season and every season to come.

I put it in my garden every year, because it grows quickly and covers any bare spots I have. They are available in light pink, hot pink, red, purple, white, salmon and a few different colored centers.

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