An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in one year, meaning it sprouts from seed, grows and forms flowers, sets its seed and dies all within one growing season. However, in cooler northern climates like zone 5 or lower, we often grow plants that are not hardy enough to survive our cold winters as annuals.
For example, lantana is a very popular annual in zone 5, used to attract butterflies. However, in zones 9-11, lantana is a perennial and actually considered an invasive plant in some warm climates. In zone 5, lantana cannot survive the winter, so it does not become an invasive nuisance. Like lantana, many of the plants we grow as annuals in zone 5 are perennials in warmer climates. Continue reading for more information on common zone 5 annuals.
Growing Annuals in Zone 5 Gardens
With frost being a threat as late as May 15 and as early as October 1, zone 5 gardeners do not have a very long growing season. Oftentimes, with annuals, we find that it is easier to purchase them in spring as small plants rather than to grow them from seed. Buying already established annuals allows us that instant gratification of a pot full of blooms.
In cooler northern climates, like zone 5, usually by the time spring and nice weather comes, we all have spring fever and tend to splurge on the big full hanging baskets or annual container mixes at our local garden centers. It is easy to be fooled into thinking spring is here by a beautiful sunny, warm day in mid-April; we usually allow ourselves to be fooled like this because we have been craving warmth, sun, flowers and green leafy growth all winter.
Then a late frost happens and if we are not prepared for it, it can cost us all those plants that we jumped the gun and bought. When growing annuals in zone 5, it is important to pay attention to weather forecasts and frost warnings in spring and autumn so that we can protect our plants as needed.
It is also important to note, that many of the beautiful, full plants we buy in spring have been grown in a warm, protective greenhouse and may need time to adjust to our drastic spring weather patterns. Still, with a careful eye on weather changes, zone 5 gardeners can enjoy many of the same beautiful annuals that gardeners in warmer climates use.
Hardy Annuals for Zone 5
Below is a list of the most common annuals in zone 5:
- Gerbera Daisy
- New Guinea Impatiens
- Dusty Miller
- Flowering Kale
- Four O’ Clocks
- Moss Roses
- Sweet Potato Vine
- Elephant Ear