Top 10 cool season annuals

Cool season annuals and warm season annuals are a great options to provide instant impact to your outdoor spaces. Annuals are typically rotated throughout the year to keep a vibrant blast of color in the landscape for the duration of the growing season. As their name implies, annuals only survive one year. They often have optimal growing conditions that need to be maintained to ensure success.

Two variables that are important to consider when selecting annuals are light exposure and temperature. Cool season annuals will look their best in early spring and will start to fizzle once warmer temperatures arrive. Replace your early spring plants, as they start to decline, with warm season annuals that will thrive in the higher temperatures of late spring into early fall. Once cooler temperatures return in fall, replace your warm season plants with another round of cool season annuals. Always select plants that prefer the sun exposure that your space provides.


Cool Season (early spring and fall planting)


Characterized by small flowers on dense, mounding growth. Alyssum does best in sunny locations under cool conditions. New series of alyssum are marketed as “Lobularia” and hold up in the heat better than traditional sweet alyssum.


A plant that performs best in full sun. Dianthus is a classic cool weather plant that attracts butterflies on dense clusters of blooms.

Dusty Miller:

Dusty Miller is renowned for its silvery gray foliage and is often used as an accent plant. These plants will form yellow flowers when temperatures warm. Plant in sun to part shade as a companion plant that needs little extra care once established.


Many types of geraniums are available in today’s market. These plants are prized for their unique foliage with others planted for their large showy blooms. Geraniums are used in mixed containers and hanging baskets these sun to part shade tolerant plants should be deadheaded to encourage reblooming and maintain plant health.


Marigolds are planted in spring vegetable gardens to help deter pests and to attract pollinators. French marigolds have a smaller daisy like flower. African marigolds have large, dense flowers and tend to grow taller than their French counterparts.


These plants prefer well drained soils and full sun. More sun exposure results in more vigorous blooming. The color selection for osteos is improving as new genetics hit the market.


One of the sun to part shade staples of early spring and fall gardens. Pansies and violas are cold tolerant and will often overwinter after planting in the fall. Although violas have a smaller bloom size than pansies, they tend to be hardier and will put on a show with dense clusters of blooms.


Well known for their large blooms. Petunias prefer full sun and come in a range of colors. Grandiflora, multiflora, milliflora, and spreading petunias are all available. Spreading varieties, also known as the Wave family, hold up better in the heat than their cousins.


Upright growth on these sun lovers produces unique dragon shaped blooms. Both dwarf and tall varieties are available so select one that works for your space.

Sweet Pea:

Prefer full sun and moist, cool soil. Sweet pea flowers have an attractive fragrance and are used in bouquets. Use in boarders or on a trellis. These plants are vine like and form tendrils for climbing.



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