Easy Annuals for Busy Homeowners

My niece loves to garden, and I am so happy to see her passing along that passion to her young children. But with four under the age of 8, tasks like fertilizing and deadheading realistically just aren’t going to get done. She needs beautiful flowers that require very little from her to fill her porch pots and garden beds. Can relate to having little time or energy to spend on garden maintenance?

Luckily, there are quite a few annuals that will thrive in containers and landscapes without much fuss. (Watering being the exception—all plants need water to live.) Let me tell you about some of my go-to low maintenance plants.

Easy Gomphrena and Salvia for Sunny Landscapes

Two of the most impressive plants I’ve seen that grow quickly to fill lots of space in full sun gardens are Truffula Pink Gomphrena and Rockin’® Deep Purple Salvia. Both are bushy, 2-3’ tall plants that become loaded with flowers that last from planting time until a killing frost in the fall. You won’t need many to make a big impact. I love that these plants are strongly attractive to pollinators. The parade of hummingbirds that line up to feed from this salvia is unbelievable! Truffula Pink makes a long-lasting cut flower, too.

Both Gomphrena and Salvia can tolerate somewhat dry soils once they are established and don’t need much fertilizer to thrive. Mix some continuous release plant food into the soil at planting time and they will bloom all season. Since they are so large, these plants really put on the best show in landscapes where they have room to thrive, but they will also grow in very large containers.

Versatile Coleus, Begonias and Euphorbia Thrive Everywhere

If you have a mix of sun and shade, or if you’re not quite sure how much sun a certain area receives, you can’t go wrong with versatile annuals that grow in sun or shade. A few I recommend often are coleus, dragonwing-type begonias and euphorbia.

Some people think coleus only grows in the shade, but ColorBlaze® coleus, including Rediculous® (shown here), is both sun and shade tolerant. Before a new coleus is introduced into the ColorBlaze series, Proven Winners trials it rigorously in both conditions. They “weed out” any seedlings in the trial that fade, wilt or quickly to go seed in full sun. I have grown them for years in my shade garden with great success. Wherever I need a spot of color in my landscape, I add coleus.

Surefire begonias grow in any amount of sunlight in all but the hottest climates. In full sun, they’ll have the most flowers but will also need to be watered more often. In shade, they will still bloom beautifully but with somewhat fewer flowers a more open shape. A bonus to growing them in shade is that theywon’t need to be watered very often. This type of begonia performs equally well in the ground and in containers. You could fill your porch pots with them, then repeat them across your front garden bed for easy, low maintenance color all season

You might be familiar with hardy perennial Euphorbias like ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Ascot Rainbow’ which show their best colors in 6+ hours of sun. Though they are botanically related to annual types of Euphorbia like Diamond Frost® and Diamond Mountain®, the annual type grows and blooms beautifully in both sun and part shade. (If you plant them in heavy shade, they will stretch and not have many flowers.)

Diamond Frost is my go-to filler for no maintenance color in my patio pots and hanging baskets in sun and shade. Its airy texture complements anything you pair it with, much like baby’s breath does in cut flower bouquets. Diamond Mountain looks a lot like Diamond Frost when it is young in spring, but once the summer heat kicks in its growth explodes. By high summer, it is 2-3’ tall and takes up as much space as a small shrub, so it’s best grown in landscapes rather than containers.

No-Maintenance Trailing Plants for Containers and Baskets

We’ve all done it. I’m guilty, too. Turn your back on your patio pots or hanging baskets for too long, and you discover that the trailing plants have quickly gone from lush to limp or even worse, to crispy brown. Some trailing plants are more forgiving than others when it comes to watering. Here are a few you can depend on to be undemanding.

Easy Flowering Trailers

Sunbini® creeping zinnia

Mojave® moss rose

Whirlwind® fan flower

GoldDust® Mecardonia

Mezoo® Trailing Red livingstone daisy

Easy Foliage Trailers

Silver Falls™ Dichondra

Lemon Coral® sedum

Wandering Jew Tradescantia

Vinca vine

Variegated ivy

Want to explore more annual plants? Here’s a link to our full collection.

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