Style your outdoor space with annual plants in containers to create a lush landscape or an inviting oasis. Plants add color and texture and make a deck or patio feel comfortable and more like an extension of your home or can be used to seriously improve your curb appeal. Finding the right annuals can be tricky, but we make it easy. Here’s what you need to know to find the best annuals for planters.
What Are Annuals?
Annuals are plants that grow for one growing season. The entire lifecycle of the plant fits into one season, and the plant dies back at the end of the growing season. Annuals are typically fast-growing plants, and most are easy to maintain. These plants are available in various colors, shapes, and sizes, so it is possible to select the right plants to fit the look you want.
Options For Annuals in Containers
You have plenty of choices when selecting annuals for planters or hanging baskets. Use a single variety to make a strong statement, or mix and match different plants to create a curated look. Annuals are often assigned a role based on how the plant grows, so you know what to expect when using a particular plant in a container.
Thriller: Tall plants that create a stately presence and are a natural focal point due to their size.
Filler: Plants that keep a low profile and spread out, covering the soil in a planter and creating a full, lush look.
Spiller: Plants that trail or cascade over the edge of the container, giving the planter an air of opulence.
Combining plants with different growth habits allows the plants to coexist and not compete with one other while also looking amazing. Consider the needs of each plant when featuring multiple varieties in the same container. All of the plants need to have similar light, water, and fertilizer needs to thrive.
Choosing the Best Annuals For Planters
Annuals are great options for planters because they are generally low-maintenance and only last for one growing season, so it is easy to switch up the look each year, and it is unnecessary to protect the plants for winter. Finding the right annuals for your outdoor area can be fun and rewarding. A wide variety of colors, textures, and growth habits make it possible to transform your outdoor space and create a welcoming and stunning area.
Impatiens are a tried and true favorite. These low-maintenance blooming plants can handle full sun to part shade and have average water needs. The mounded plant works as a filler in containers or hanging baskets and blooms from spring through fall. The delicate flowers feature single or double petals and are available in pink, red, peach, purple, and more.
Annuals are usually sought after for their striking good looks, but every now and then, there is a plant that pulls double-duty. The Mosquito Plant is a lush filler that provides abundant greenery in a container, and the natural scent repels mosquitos. Use it as a centerpiece on a dining table or relocate it to a railing or end table to help evict nuisance mosquitos wherever you want to hang out. Pinch back the stems to keep the plant bushy.
Snapdragons thrive in the heat of summer and crave full sun conditions. Most varieties boast striking blooms in a rainbow of colors that grow on stems up to 40 inches tall. This thriller makes a statement planted by itself or use it with other plants to create a stunning ensemble.
The dramatic spikey foliage of the Dracaena adds height to a planter. The sword-shaped green leaves reach up to 36 inches tall, with the outer leaves gently arching. Dracaena is grown for foliage and requires very little maintenance. This plant is drought-tolerant, but container-grown plants typically need water more often, so give the plant a drink when the soil dries out.
Sweet Potato Vine is known for trailing leaves in bright green hues. This plant fills the role of spiller when used in a container because the fast-growing vines will cascade and drape over the edge of the pot or basket. While this plant looks spectacular on its own, it compliments flowering plants and helps showcase the blooms. Let the vines reach the ground or trim the plant back to maintain the desired size or promote more growth.
Petunias brighten up a space thanks to the abundance of brilliantly colored trumpet-shaped blooms. New flowers continue to emerge from the end of the stem, starting in spring and continuing through fall. Let the stems trail over the edge of the planter or pinch back new growth to encourage the robust plant to maintain a full and bushy appearance.
The actual flowers of Verbena plants are small, but the flowers grow in clusters at the ends on long stems, creating a much larger and showy appearance. Verbena is a low-maintenance mounding plant that works as a spiller in a container. Expect this annual to bloom spring through frost and place the container in a spot that receives full to part sun.
Begonias are subtropical perennials that prefer full to partial shade. These plants will continuously bloom from spring through frost and feature single or double blooms in a wide array of colors. Begonias take on the role of filler in a container and generally get up to 1 to 1.5 feet tall.
Make a bold statement in an outdoor space by featuring the annual Elephant Ears. Different varieties of this plant are distinctive for various reasons. Some types have exceptionally large foliage, while others have stunning variegation or the veining is a contrasting and striking color. Most types have velvety leaves that give the plant a textural appeal. This plant does bloom; however, the flowers are not very showy.
Bacopa is a trailing filler that boasts abundant blooms in different shades of pink and blue, and even white. Feature Bacopa in a planter on its own to create a focal point or include plants with height for an exciting pairing. Bacopa thrives in hanging baskets that allow the greenery to overflow from the container.