17 Easy Care Annual Flowers For Your Spring Garden

Are you looking for some low-maintenance annual flowers to grow in your spring garden this season? Depending on your hardiness zone, there are plenty of annual flowers to choose from. In this article, organic farmer and gardening expert Jenna Rich shares her favorite annual flowers to plant this season, with names and pictures of each!

If you are a beginner gardener, annual flowers are a great option. This holds true especially if you aren’t sure what you want to permanently place in your garden just yet. It is usually a good idea to test out some easy-to-care-for plants when you’re just getting started. Thankfully, there are tons of low-maintenance annual flowers out there!

Planting annuals has many benefits. You have the flexibility to change them out each year, for one. You get to try new colors, textures, and sometimes scents in your garden without any commitment. Annual flowers also tend to be better for lower budgets.

If you are a beginner gardener or just someone who likes to switch it up without too much maintenance, we’ve listed out our favorite easy-care annual flowers that would be perfect for you! I hope you give some the following flowers a try in your garden this season and that you enjoy them as much as I do.



Top view, close-up of blooming Ageratum flowers in a garden, against a blurred background of dark green foliage. The plant has small fluffy lavender flowers consisting of many thin protruding petals.
Ageratums are unique field fluffy flowers of pink, lavender, or white colors.
common-name common name Floss Flower
botanical-name botanical name Ageratum houstonianum
plant-type plant type Annual and Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Lavender, Pink, White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 80-100 Days To Mature From Seed

This fluffy flower adds so much character to a backyard garden and to a wildflower bouquet. Its unique appearance caused it to get its other names, floss flower and blue mink.

Ageratum does come in different colors, but I have found they do not germinate or perform quite as well as the original violet varieties. Be sure to harvest or deadhead Ageratum often, as it does get fluffy quickly. The more you harvest, the more it will produce.

To use fresh, be sure to harvest a bit earlier than when the flowers are all the way in bloom. If you’d like to use them in crafts, harvest them when they are fully open before drying. Just be aware that the colors will fade slightly when dried, but they hold up well when pressed and in dried bouquets.


Close-up of a blooming Calendula in a sunny garden. The flowers are small, daisy-like, composed of deep bright orange centers surrounded by thin oblong orange petals. The leaves are green, narrow, lanceolate.
This popular annual plant produces bright orange flowers that are also used medicinally.
common-name common name Pot Marigold, Calendula, Marigold
botanical-name botanical name Calendula officinalis
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Orange, Shades of Cream
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 30-55 Days To Mature From Seed

Classic calendula is one of the most vibrant colors I’ve ever seen in nature. Its orange petals stand out like nothing else. The high resin makes it perfect for medicinal tinctures and salves.

The Alpha looks a lot like a Gerbera daisy, whereas the Flashback Mix is a mix of pale yellow with brown brush strokes along the petal edges to all yellow and all orange with dark centers. Sprinkle some of the petals in your salad to brighten it up!

In the fall, cut back and cover plants with straw mulch to protect them from cold winter temperatures if you live in colder regions. Pull back the straw on a warm spring day to get the plants some fresh air and sunshine but keep the mulch nearby in case of any cold bursts.

While calendula does well in cooler temperatures, the leaves could become frost tipped or damaged in a hard frost. Once you have calendula established, it will be one of the first things to pop up in the spring each year.

Pro Tip: Calendula self-seeds fairly easily but you can brush seeds off periodically at the end of the season to help them along.

Cornflower/Bachelor’s Button

Close-up of blooming Cornflower flowers in a sunny garden among bright green grass. The plant has small papery bright blue flower heads surrounded by bracts. The flower heads have blue petals with wavy edges.
Cornflower grows well in cool weather and blooms throughout the season.
common-name common name Cornflower, Bachelor’s Button
botanical-name botanical name Centaurea cyanus
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Pink, White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
propagation propagation 65-75 Days To Mature From Seed

Bachelor’s buttons prefer cooler weather and doesn’t mind moderately poor soil conditions. Direct sowing is recommended so you can put them in as soon as you can work your soil in the spring.

Even with little to no attention, these flowers will continue to bloom all season, even without deadheading. Harvest them at first sight of color when the buds are still closed up for a longer vase life. However, they only last a few days, so they are best for a casual dinner centerpiece and not a fancy bouquet. Their color palette can’t help but make you smile.

You might notice bachelor’s buttons popping up in commonly used pollinator patches. This is due to their ability to attract lots of beneficial insects like hoverflies, bees, and butterflies.

Dianthus/Sweet William

Close-up of blooming Dianthus in a sunny garden. The plant is low, has thin erect stems covered with lanceolate green leaves. The flowers are small, flat, disc-shaped, consist of 5 bright pink petals with white incised edges.
Dianthus produces fragrant, small flowers whose petals are edible.
common-name common name Sweet Wiliam, Bearded Pink
botanical-name botanical name Dianthus barbatus
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Red, Pink, White, Purple, Bicolor
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 90-110 Days To Mature From Seed

Fragrant and high-yielding, Sweet William is an excellent choice for anyone with short growing seasons as they are cool-weather loving, so you can get them started early. They will grow as a tender perennial in zones 6-8 but perform best as an annual.

Bunched with other sweet williams of mixed colors, they make a sweet bouquet. They have an amazing life, sometimes lasting up to two weeks!

They are slightly fragrant, and their petals are edible. Add them to your next summer salad, or float one in your cocktails for extra interest. Just be sure to remove the petals from the base, as the base is a bit bitter.


Close-up of blooming flowers of Feverfew bushy plants in a sunny garden. Does the plant have many branched thin stems? covered with fern-like green-yellow foliage. The flowers are small, daisy-like, with bright yellow round centers and white petals.
Charming small white flowers and fragrant green foliage are notable features of feverfew.
common-name common name Feverfew
botanical-name botanical name Tanacetum parthenium
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors White and Yellow
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 100-110 Days To Mature From Seed

This delicate flower is one you’ll definitely want to add to your garden line-up this season. It is highly productive, grows well all season, and is equally as good-looking when dried for crafts.

Feverfew has an earthy scent and makes the perfect backdrop to a simple backyard flower bouquet. It may need some staking due to its tall stems. Be sure to give them enough space to bush out or the bottoms of the stems and leaves will dry out and turn brown.

While feverfew is technically a tender perennial in certain zones, we grow it as an annual to be sure we always have it around. If you are looking for a lovely white flower for your bouquets or just to add some balance to your garden, I highly recommend feverfew.

Flowering Kale or Cabbage

Top view, close-up of a Flowering Kale plant in a garden bed. The plant has several rounded rosettes of beautiful rounded ruffled dark green outer leaves and bright pink-purple leaves in the center.
This ornamental and easy-to-grow plant has beautifully crisp leaves in shades of green and purple.
common-name common name Flowering Kale, Flowering Cabbage, Ornamental Cabbage
botanical-name botanical name Brassica oleracea
plant-type plant type Annual Plant
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, Pink, White, Red, Green
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
propagation propagation 70-90 Days To Mature From Seed

Although these do not have a good flavor for eating, ornamental kale and cabbage pack a unique punch when it comes to their appearance.

Space these about 6 inches away from other plants, so they stay a small enough size that allows you to cut them and add them to a bouquet.

Peel back lower leaves as they continue to grow, so you get a nice, long stem. The purple shades enveloped in crisp green leaves will stand out in an arrangement and last quite a while in a vase.

Pro Tip: When your summer flowers fade, replace them with fall ornamental kale or cabbage for an easy late season garden.


Close-up of a blooming Larkspur against a blurred green background. The plant has a tall stem with a spiked inflorescence of violet-blue semi-double flowers with white centers.
Showy larkspur grows in tall flower spikes that bloom in beautiful blues, purples, pinks, and whites.
common-name common name Larkspur
botanical-name botanical name Delphinium
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Purple, Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
propagation propagation 80-90 Days To Mature From Seed

I absolutely love growing larkspur for many reasons. It blooms earlier than snapdragons but has a similar spike effect in a mixed flower bouquet. It comes in lovely blue and violet shades, pinks, and roses, all the way to bright white, just what we all want in the spring and early summer!

Larkspur is great in the spring because it germinates best in soils below 55°F and is recommended to be directly sown. You can also sow seeds in the fall for early spring blooms. I have had success sowing these in cell trays in an unheated outdoor area and transplanting them in late spring when the snow has melted.

An important note about larkspur: All parts of this flower are poisonous, so take extra caution around children and pets. Gloves are recommended when seeding or wash your hands immediately afterward.


Close-up of blooming marigolds in a sun garden. Plants have beautiful dark green, fern-like foliage. Marigolds are comprised of tiny inflorescences surrounded by many layers of delicate, ruffled bright orange petals.
These bright flowers make great companion plants in the garden as they have the ability to repel pests with their scent.
common-name common name Marigold
botanical-name botanical name Tagetes spp.
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Orange, Red
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
propagation propagation 60-90 Days To Mature From Seed

One of the most popular orange or yellow annual flowers, marigolds are a mainstay in our garden. We grow marigolds just about anywhere that’s bare or along borders where possible critters could enter. Their strong scent helps to deter deer, rabbits, and other animals that might munch on your summer greens.

The Queen Sophia variety is a gorgeous deep orange rimmed with golden highlighter orange. Its petals are edible and make a lovely addition to a charcuterie board or a summer salad. Lemon Gem has a citrus scent and flavor, making it great for culinary use as well as a mosquito repellent.

Marigolds are known for attracting beneficial insects, warding off pests, and making a lovely border option. Typically only one sowing is needed for lasting blooms all season. Just be sure to harvest or deadhead often to encourage a continuous supply. Sow 4-6 weeks before the last frost and pinch back for a bushier style plant.

Orlaya/White Lace Flower

Close-up of a flowering Orlaya plant in a summer garden. The plant has tall thin stems covered with finely-divided leaves and beautiful umbrellas of lacy white flowers.
White lace flower produces beautiful umbels of lacy white or pink blooms.
common-name common name Orlaya, White Lace Flower
botanical-name botanical name Orlaya grandiflora
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Pure White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 65-70 Days To Mature From Seed

This easy-to-grow filler flower will instantly make your bouquets look extra elegant without much effort. You can direct sow the seeds early in the spring when you can first work the soil or start them indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks prior to sowing. This is known as cold stratification, which helps break the dormancy of the seed that might have otherwise overwintered. This is thought to help “wake up” the seeds and initiate germination.

Harvest when about 80% of the flower is open and before pollen is present. If you wait too long to harvest, the amount of pollen shed that will occur will make them less than ideal to use in bouquets. Unique, star-shaped seed pods will form later in the season that looks lovely in dried bouquets.

Pansy/Viola/Johnny Jump Up

Close-up of blooming Pansies in a sunny garden. The plant is small, composed of slender climbing stems, pale green lobed leaves, and bright, five-petalled flowers. The three petals are fused, yellow in color with light purple edges and dark purple veins radiating from the centers, resembling faces. Two dark purple rounded petals are on top, reminiscent of a bract.
Violas are early flowering annuals or perennials that tolerate frost well and are edible.
common-name common name Pansy, Viola, Violet, Johnny Jump Up
botanical-name botanical name Viola
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Purple, Blue, Yellow, White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
propagation propagation 60-80 Days To Mature From Seed

Pansies can be annual, perennial, or tender perennial, depending on the variety. They are one of the first flowers to pop up in the winter and spring months. They come in a wide range of colors with new options each year.

These lovely flowers can tolerate light frosts and can be overwintered very easily. They grow well in containers, along borders, in hanging baskets, or anywhere in your landscaping.

Bonus: Pansies are edible! They add brightness and beauty to summer salads and charcuterie boards and can be added to soaps and salves, as well as candied.


Close-up of blooming petunias in a sunny garden. The plant has large funnel-shaped flowers of pale pink color with dark pink throats and thin veins. The leaves are pale green, oval with narrowed tips.
This annual plant has attractive funnel-shaped flowers that do well in cool weather but prefer full sun.
common-name common name Petunia
botanical-name botanical name Petuna spp.
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Purple, Red, White, Bi-colored
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 70-85 Days To Mature From Seed

Petunias are very versatile garden flowers. They can be used along rock walls, as borders, in containers/hanging baskets, or in mounds. Plant them in well-draining, rich soil that’s high in organic matter.

Grandiflora petunias are the most popular type and have the biggest blooms whereas multiflora petunias have smaller blooms but are more prolific. Deadhead them often for continuous blooms.

There are also spreading petunias that can be used to cover a rock wall, a large hillside, or a simple alternative to a complex garden landscape.

While petunias cannot handle frost, they are great performers in cool weather. They love the sun so make sure they get at least 8 hours a day of direct sun. Get ready to have a backyard full of hummingbirds and other pollinating insects because petunias’ sweet smell and high nectar levels will attract them.

Pro Tip: Try planking these alongside pale gray dusty miller or in front of a row of Ammi Dara to make the colors really pop.

Pincushion Flower/Scabiosa/Mourning Bride

Close-up of blooming Scabiosa flowers in the garden. Flower heads are small, pale purple, surrounded by oval, slightly elongated petals.
Scabiosa is a delightful annual with fragrant flower heads in purple, pink, and white.
common-name common name Pincushion Flower, Scabiosa, Mourning Bride
botanical-name botanical name Scabiosa caucasica
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Lavender, Pink, White
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
propagation propagation 90-100 Days To Mature From Seed

Last season was my first time growing scabiosa. I did not give the seeds the conditions needed for good germination rates, so I ended up with only a few plant starts.

Light aids in germination, and I think they were in too large of cell packs and basically drowned when the greenhouse was being watered. Next time I will germinate them inside and keep them under artificial light until they are strong enough to harden off outside.

I transplanted those few scabiosa babies into a new garden plot and was dumbfounded in the late summer when I saw how gorgeous they were. As I typically do with a new flower, I ordered the mixed packet that offered lots of color variety. I fell in love with the burgundy that is almost black, the pale purple, and the deep, bright pink. They added such character to my bouquets!

The key is to harvest them early. Otherwise, their petals will wither away, making them less than ideal for use as cut flowers. These flowers are a wonderful addition to fall landscaping and bouquets because they last late in the season and come in wonderful autumnal shades.


Close-up of blooming Snapdragons flowers in a sunny garden. The plant has low inflorescences of large, tubular bright pink flowers resembling closed liplike mouths. The leaves are lanceolate, thin, dark green.
This annual has beautiful tubular flowers with closed liplike mouths.
common-name common name Snapdragon, Snap
botanical-name botanical name Antirrhinum majus
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Red, Yellow, Orange, White, and Purple
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 105-120 Days To Mature From Seed

While snapdragons, take a bit longer to mature than some other flowers, they are worth the wait. They need to be transplanted, so keep in mind that you need an indoor space to start them and keep them safe for at least 8 weeks. Light is needed to germinate, so be sure to have a setup that allows for this.

You can pinch them back once they are about 4 inches tall to encourage side shooting and a bushier growth pattern. This will delay bloom time by a few weeks.

There are many different varieties that come in a whole range of colors, single and double-petaled and some even feature an antique look for special occasions. Snaps perform very well outdoors or under protection in a greenhouse.

Some staking is required in order to keep the stems nice and straight. Add a few of these to a bouquet and they add great height and dimension.

Pollinators love them, they look lovely as a garnish and some varieties are lightly fragrant. They have a fairly long vase life of 7-10 days with ideal care. If you haven’t grown snaps before, I highly recommend grabbing a mixed packet and putting them in this year to see why they are a favorite among growers and florists.


Close-up of blooming Stock flowers on a blurred background of a sunny garden. The plant has erect flower spikes, which consist of semi-double flowers of bright pink with white centers.
Vertically growing stock produces charming flowers in the most delicate and vintage shades.
common-name common name Stock, Hoary Stock, Common Stock
botanical-name botanical name Matthiola incana
plant-type plant type Annual and Biennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Blue, Pink, White, Lavender, Purple, Red
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 90-105 Days To Mature From Seed

Stock has a romantic look, perfect for spring and fall weddings. Seeds are available in soft whites and pinks, as well as bright pinks and purples, deep burgundy, and vintage shades. They are one of the first flowers you can transplant in the spring for early bouquets.

With a little support, stock will produce straight and sturdy stems. Please note that no pinching should take place as this flower type is a one-and-done harvest.

Stock has a slight pepper, clove-like fragrance and taste. It is a part of the brassica family, so be sure to protect them from flea beetle damage.


Close-up of a blooming sunflower against a blurred garden background. The plant has a green upright stem covered with coarse hairs and broad leaves with serrated edges. The flower is large, has a rounded copper-brown head, consisting of many small tubular flowers and oval elongated bright yellow petals placed around.
Plant bright sunflowers in your garden and enjoy them blooming.
common-name common name Sunflower
botanical-name botanical name Helianthus annuus
plant-type plant type Annual Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Yellow, Red, Orange, Brown
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
propagation propagation 70-100 Days To Mature From Seed

There is nothing more cheerful than a row or two of different sunflower varieties growing in your garden. My favorite thing to do is stagger the sowings of different varieties, so there is always some blooming.

Did you know they get their name because of the way their heads follow the sun? Even before they are opened, keep an eye on them at sun up and sundown and you’ll be in awe of nature.

While they won’t tolerate a frost, you can germinate and grow sunflowers from seed indoors for a few weeks while you wait for the risk of frost to pass before moving them outdoors.

Pro Tip: Allow some to go to seed in your garden for a special treat for birds or ground critters passing through in need of a snack.

Sweet Alyssum

Close-up of a blooming Sweet Alyssum in a sunny garden. This groundcover has beautiful clusters of tiny white four-petaled flowers with yellow centers. The leaves are narrow, oblong, green.
This ground cover plant produces delightful fragrant buds and narrow grey-green leaves.
common-name common name Sweet Alyssum, Alyssum
botanical-name botanical name Lobularia maritima
plant-type plant type Annual or Perennial Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors White, Purple, Light Pink
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to Partial Sun
propagation propagation 50-60 Days To Mature From Seed

This easy, breezy, low-maintenance flower should be in everyone’s garden. Its low, creeping growing habit makes it perfect for rock gardens, hanging baskets, or window boxes.

Sweet alyssum makes an amazing garden border and also grows well in containers. It attracts lots of beneficial pollinators such as lacewings and parasitic wasps.

Alyssum is known to deter pests such as aphids. Therefore, it can be a helpful and pretty workhorse when planted alongside vegetables.

Start seeds indoors under light and transplant them after the risk of frost in the spring. If you live in warmer climates, you can sow them in fall through late winter for summer blooms. This sweet flower performs as a tender perennial in zones 9-11.

Sweet Pea

Close-up of Sweet Peas in bloom against a blurred green background. The plant has curly tendrils and clusters of graceful pink flowers. The flower has one large upright round petal, two narrow side petals and two lower petals, forming a boat-shaped structure.
Deliciously smelling sweet peas are climbing annuals with very fragrant flowers.
common-name common name Sweey Pea
botanical-name botanical name Lathyrus odoratus
plant-type plant type Annual Vining Flower
bloom-colors bloom colors Pink, Purple, Red, White, Bi-color
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun to Part Shade
propagation propagation 75-85 Days To Mature From Seed

Sweet peas are great for those of us in cooler growing regions because they can be started early, can tolerate a light frost, as well as some warm summer weather which offers growers a long harvest window. For this reason, keeping their roots and watering regularly is very important.

I love the Mammoth Choice Mix variety mostly for the consistently long stems (can be up to 16”!) and range of colors. These can be trained up arbors, arches, or fences along garden sheds or to hide outdoor hardware.

Vertical support is required. Sweet peas’ vase life is only about 4-6 days, but if you are growing them for pleasure and simple home bouquets, they are worth it for the delicate beauty and the sweet fragrance. Harvest when just about half of the flower is open.

Pro Tip: Soak for 24 hours at room temperature before sowing to help with germination rates.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the cool spring temperatures scare you away from starting seeds! There are many annual flower varieties that are cold hardy, and perfect for a spring garden.

When planning a flower garden, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the days to maturity and best-growing zones so you can have something blooming all season long. If you want something a little more hands-off, look for flowers that self-seed and are more on the low-maintenance side.

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