Spring Annuals

English Daisy- Bellis perennis

Zone: 4-8

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part Shade

Soil Preference: Moist, well drained soil

Pests/disease: None Serious

Attributes: While technically a biennial, english daisys are often used as cool season annuals in our zone as the summer heat leads to plant decline. Button like flowers bloom in white, pink or red with yellow centers. Grow 3-6.”

Our Experience: Bellis are nice additions to spring bedding arrangements as well as great pops of color for early containers. Providing afternoon shade as temps increase extends the life of these plants. Continuously dead head to maintain vigor.

Sweet Alyssum- Lobularia maritima

Zone: 5-9

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part shade

Soil Preference: Average medium well drained soils

Pests/disease: None serious

Attributes: Alyssum is one of the easiest annuals to grow, out performing many cool season favorites with little to no maintenance. It’s a mat forming plant with dense clusters of fragrant tiny white flowers that bloom prolifically until the dog days of summer. Common varieties come in pink, white and purple. Grow 6-9”

Our Experience: As its fragrance is strong and sweet, we often plant the most alyssum in and around our fragrance garden on the hill. It also especially compliments rock walls and garden edging in its mat forming and bloom spilling habit. Shear after initial bloom for rebloom throughout the spring. If kept in a partially shady area, plant can be sheared in half come summer, and it will often revive in the fall (if you can stand the dormant look of the foliage or successfully plant amongst later blooming annuals/perennials). While this plant comes in a variety of colors, we’ve found the white bloomers have the most fragrance.

Stock- Matthiola incana

Zone: 7-10

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part Shade

Soil Preference: Consistently moist, well drained soils

Pests/disease: None serious

Attributes: Stock is a cool weather annual with colorful, clove scented, spire like flower clusters that come in many colors. While they’re normally planted for early spring color, given the right conditions, (mild and moist), they will continue to flower until mid-summer.  Grow 1-3.’

Our Experience: We most often use stock for spring color in our fragrance garden given the strong and pleasing odor of its flowers. Many varieties have double flowers which add some bulk to an otherwise thin frame. Flowers hold up well in cut arrangements.

Nemesia- Nemesia fruticans

Zone: 9-11

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part shade

Soil Preference: Average medium well drained soils

Pests/disease: None serious

Attributes: An old fashioned annual available in an array of colors and bicolors for spring and or fall garden interest. Plants have lance shaped, toothed green leaves and two lipped tubular flowers resembling small orchid blooms. Grow 6”-2.’

Our Experience: Nemesia is often used in window boxes and containers on the hill as its airy and delicate form gets lost in a large bedding arrangement. Plants that grow tired become rangey and need to be sheared back for sporadic rebloom. Over the years, we’ve cut back on our use of this plant as its spring performance has been erratic and unreliable here.

Senetti- Percallis x hybrida

Zone: 9-11

Light Requirements: Part shade

Soil Preference: Moist well drained soils

Pests/disease: Powdery mildew, aphids, fungal crown and root rot

Attributes: Senetti is a mound forming annual that provides high impact color to the early spring garden. Plants have daisy like flowers that come in a variety of vibrant colors and often, bicolors. Grows 1-2.’

Our Experience: Senetti is used both as a bedding and container plant during the spring on great hill. While we have experienced some animal browsing, it hasn’t been as problematic as with some other highly sought-after annuals. When blooms start to look tired, deadhead for sporadic rebloom until the summer heat sets in.

Pansy- Viola x wittrockiana

Zone: 7-10

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part shade

Soil Preference: Consistently moist well drained soils

Pests/disease: Animal browsing, leaf spot infrequently

Attributes: An extremely common and massively utilized annual (for our zone) in the cool weather of the spring and the fall. Pansys are either started from seed indoors, or, more commonly, purchased in the early spring from your local nursery. Pansys come in a myriad of colors and patterns adding early interest to beds, borders, baskets and containers. They grow 6-9,” and persist until the summer heat halts flowering.

Our Experience: Pansys add early spring color to urns and containers on great hill, but we seldom plant them as a bedding feature due to rabbit and deer browsing. Blooms are more robust and numerous when the plant is fertilized and dead headed regularly. While they can be brought out again for the fall, we find they don’t perform quite as well then as they do in the spring. Plants last longer when given afternoon shade as the season progresses.

African Daisy- Osteospermum

Zone: 10-11

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Part Shade

Soil Preference: Average, loose, well drained soils.

Pests/disease: Nothing serious. Aphids, powdery mildew.

Attributes: A cold season annual with daisy like flowers coming in a range of single bi or multi colors, but most commonly white, pink or yellow. Osteos grow 1 to 3′ and bloom best in full sun. They are used in baskets, bedding and container arrangements. Osteos stop blooming in the heat and humidity of a hot summer climate.

Our Experience: Osteos are a token daisy looking spring annual that’s actually in the aster family. We use osteospermum in our spring urns and containers which bring color, vibrancy and a tropical effect to an early season arrangement.

Snapdragon- Antirrhinum majus

Zone: 7-10

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Soil Preference: Moist, organically rich, well drained soils

Pests/disease: Rusts, fungal leaf spots, aphids, root rot, wilt and downy mildew

Attributes: Snapdragons are a cool season garden annual that have dragon shaped, tubular, two lipped closed flowers that appear in terminal racemes. Depending on cultivar, snapdragon come in a variety of colors (mostly pastels) and sizes from 8 to 36″. Leaves are lance shaped and glossy dark green. Used in beds, window boxes, borders and mixed containers.

Our Experience: We’ve used snaps in spring urns and window boxes for our early spring and or Easter arrangements on Great Hill. They’re hard to beat for early season color and respond well to deadheading to increase bloom. They tend to thrive until the heat of the summer kicks in during which they quickly decline.