The best flowers for containers are often annuals. Enjoy this list of my favorite annuals that grow well in sun and some that can handle shade.
I love planting tons of flowers in containers in the spring. I typically head out to a couple of local nurseries and pick up several 4-inch pots of annuals to stuff my containers and hanging baskets. As time goes by I find myself selecting some of the same ones over and over again because I already know how they will grow and look. Every once in a while I'll try something new, but the standbys are still on my list and I thought I'd share a few of my favorite annual flowers with you.
Best Annual Flowers in Containers
Full Sun Annuals
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Technically this is not an annual but since it is not hardy in the north and the nurseries charge the same amount as the annuals so I'm including it here. This particular flower is always the star or "thriller."
You can see it in the middle of the planter at the top of this post. I always plant it first in the middle. Or, if I have a container that is placed next to the house I will sometimes plant it in the back. A great plant to attract bees, pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
I used to turn up my nose at petunias in the past. The old ones would get very leggy and needed constant dead-heading. Now they have so many fabulous ones, particularly "the wave" which grows like mad and doesn't need much of any maintenance.
I almost always buy trailing verbena. Above is a planter with white and a white & pink combo.
Again in a pretty dark red and violet. Verbena comes in an upright habit too but I tend to like the trailing version. It's another pretty annual that comes in a wide range of colors.
Annuals for Shade
Calibrachoa aka Million Bells
Another spectacular filler and trailing plant that blooms all season is the calibrachoa or million bells. They are like mini petunias and come in so many different beautiful colors. From black to white and many colors in between. Some are solid and some are variegated. Million Bells loves the sun but can also grow well in areas of partial shade.
I will often take 3 of one color and fill a basket like this one.
Lobelia erinus aka Lobelia
This pretty blue compact plant is always filled with flowers. It's a great filler but I often use it as a spiller over the edge of pots. You can find it in shades of blue, purple, rose, and white in the nursery. It grows well in sun but can also handle light shade.
Ipomoea aka Sweet Potato Vine
Another great annual for containers that trail really well and will grow in shade is the sweet potato vine. In this case, it's the leaves that are the attraction. As you can see from the image above sweet potato vine comes in colors from chartreuse to almost black foliage.
I often plant these on my front porch that gets some sun but also a good amount of shade. Don't be surprised if you find real sweet potatoes in the container at the end of the season. I'm not sure if they are edible but I suspect that they would not taste great.
More Good Annuals for Planters
- Sweet alyssum - good for sides and filler
- Bacopa - will grow in part-shade
- Impatiens - good for shady spots. Double impatiens look like small roses
- Lantana - comes in warm shades of yellow and orange. Looks similar to verbena
- Helichrysum White Licorice - a pretty silver trailing plant
- Browallia 'Blue Bells' - a really pretty shade of blue
- Geraniums - a good standby, come in upright and trailing varieties
- Black-Eyed Susan Vine - Beautiful vining flowers in varieties of yellow, gold, peach, and pink.
- Nasturtium - Colorful fragrant and edible. Add some of the flowers to your summer salad.
- Fuchsia - Bright colors with tons of trailing flowers that grow well in shady areas.
- Coleus - Another colorful foliage annual that grows well in shade.
Planting flowers in containers is absolutely one of my favorite things to do in the spring. Often I start around Mother's Day even though there is still a warning of frost in my area. I do have to watch the weather, but if it gets cold at night I just cover the planters with a garbage bag or old sheet and that does the trick.