Annuals In The South: What Are The Best Southeastern Annual Flowers

Pink Annual Flowers
(Image credit: Gardening Know How, via Nikki Tilley)

Flower gardens planted with annual blooms are often the most colorful in the landscape. These plants finish their lifespan within a year, or a season, and offer the best of all the aspects of foliage and flowers within that timeframe. One of the best things about growing annuals in the South is that you can enjoy an abundance of blooms before the worst heat of summer sets in. Of course, a number of annuals will also delight in these warmer temps.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of growing a southern annual flower garden:

  • Sprout easily from seed
  • Flowers develop the first season
  • Add color while waiting for perennials to bloom
  • Grow edible flowers

Planting Southeastern Annual Flowers

Annual flowers can be planted from seed for a less expensive way to fill your flowerbeds with beauty. Planting seeds allows you to know exactly what’s been used to feed the plants, important info if you’re growing edible flowers or planting an organic bed. Start them indoors a few weeks before the last frost date in your area to get your beds filled at the earliest point.

If your area of the South is prone to a late frost, start with planting cold-hardy annuals like:

These survive that unexpected frost. Seeds of cold-hardy annuals may be sown directly into the prepared bed, as well as starting them inside.

When temperatures are still cool, plant out sprouted seedlings of annual phlox, calendula, and cosmos. These like cooler temperatures, but don’t take frost and will fade quickly in the heat, of which southern regions are known for. While both cold-hardy and cool-season annuals decline as summer heat takes over, many will return when temperatures cool off in fall. In the meantime, add in tender annuals for a colorful show in summer.

Tender annuals are those that like the heat of summer and are best started in spring. These include vinca, impatiens, marigolds, and zinnias, among many others. You’ll want some flowers with height among those annual plants that clump or grow near the soil surface. Grow taller varieties of ageratum, tassel flower, or spider flower.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.