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Annual Flowers for Pots and Windowboxes

Annual flowers in pots

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Annuals with their consistent flower colors and uniform growth habit make an eye-catching feature for containers and window boxes. Most modern hybrid annuals are bred to provide reliable, long-lasting displays.

When selecting annuals for pots and windowboxes, choose compact and intermediate-sized cultivars that need little training and support and that easily withstand breezes.  The choice of annuals suitable for containers may be greater than those for the open garden; annuals are generally more tender than perennials and will often be at their best when protected by adjacent buildings.

Choose annuals that are suitable for the season—warm weather or cool weather. You may want to start spring with cool season annuals then switch to warm-season annuals summer and finish the growing season in autumn with more cool-season annuals. Garden centers commonly stock annuals for the season at hand.

Geranium, petunia and bacopa flowers in a windowbox
Geranium, petunia and bacopa flowers in a windowbox

Tips for using annuals in pots and containers

  • Choose plants in proportion to the size of the container or containers in proportion to the size of the plants.
  • In a container that can be seen from only one side, place the tallest plants at the back, then medium size, then small and cascading plants near the front.
  • In a freestanding container that can be viewed from all sides, place the tallest plant in the center and position the other plants of gradually decreasing size in concentric rings.
  • Keep color schemes simple; rely on just a few colors. Use whites and pastels in shady locations.
  • Combine plants with foliage of different textures and forms for added interest.
Snapdragon flower, Antirrhinum majus

Annuals for pots and windowboxes

Print out this list for your next trip to the garden center. Click on the botanical name for growing and care information.

A-B Botanical NameCommon Name
Agapanthus orientalisLily-of-the-Nile, grow as perennial in warm regions
Antirrhinum majusSnapdragon
Arctotis stoechadifoliaAfrican daisy
Argyranthemum frutescensMarguerite daisy, perennial best grown as an annual in container
Begonia x semperflorens-cultorumWax begonia
Bellis perennisEnglish daisy, grow as an annual in containers
Browallia speciosaSapphire flower
Coleus, Coleus hybrids
C – Botanical NameCommon Name
Calendula officinalisPot marigold
Callistephus chinensisChina aster
Catharanthus roseusMadagascar periwinkle, perennial in warm climates
Celosia cristataCockscomb
Centaurea cyanusBachelor’s button
Cherianthus spp.Wallflower
Cineraria maritimaDusty miller
Cleome hassleranaSpider flower
Coleus hybridsColeus
Cosmos bipinnatusCosmos
Fuchsia in a hanging basket
Fuchsia in a hanging basket
D-G Botanical NameCommon Name
Dianthus chinensisChina pink
Dimorphotheca sinuataCape marigold, tender perennial grown as an annual
Dorotheanthus bellidformisLivingstone daisy
Eschscholzia californicaCalifornia poppy
Euphorbia marginataSnow-on-the-mountain
Felicia amelloidesBlue marguerite
Fuchsia hybridsFuchsia, perennial grown as an annual in many regions
Gazania spp.Tender perennial grown as an annual in containers
Gerbera jamesoniiTransvaal daisy, tender perennial
Gomphrena globosaGlobe amaranth
Lobelia erinus in a pot
Lobelia erinus in a pot
H-N Botanical NameCommon Name
 Helichrysum petiolareHelichrysum
Heliotropium arborescensHeliotrope
Iberis umbellataGlobe candytuft
Impatiens balsaminaBalsam impatiens
Impatiens hybridsBedding impatiens
Lobelia erinusEdging lobelia
Lobularia maritimaSweet alyssum
Matthiola incanaStock
Myosotis sylvaticaAnnual forget-me-not
Nicotiana alataFlowering tobacco
Nierembergia hippomanicaCupflower
Nigella damacenaLove-in-a-mist
Red geranium in cement planters
Red geraniums in cement planters, Pelargonium x hortorum
P-Botanical NameCommon Name
Papaver nucicauleIceland poppy
Papaver rhoeasShirley poppy
Pelargonium x domesticumLady Washington geranium
Pelargonium graveolensRose geranium
Pelargonium x hortorumZonal geranium
Pelargonium peltatumIvy geranium
Pelargonium tomentosumPeppermint geranium
Petunia x hybridaPetunia
Phlox drummondiiAnnual phlox
Portulaca grandifloraMoss rose
Wishbone flower, Torenia fournieri
Wishbone flower, Torenia fournieri
S-T Botanical NameCommon Name
Salvia farinaceaMealycup sage, perennial south of Zone 7
Salvia splendensScarlet sage
Tagetes erectaAfrican marigold
Tagetes patulaFrench marigold
Tagetes tenuifoliaSignet marigold
Torenia fournieriWishbone flower
Trachymene caeruleaBlue lace flower
Verbena planted in a terrace pot, Verbena x hybrida
Verbena planted in a terrace pot, Verbena x hybrida
V-Z Botanical NameCommon Name
Verbena canadensisTrailing verbena
Verbena x hybridaGarden verbena
Viola tricolorJohnny-jump-up
Viola x wittrockianaPansy
Zinnia elegansZinnia

Also of interest:

Flower Gardening in Containers

Container Vegetable Gardening Guide

Choosing Plants for Containers

Planting a Container

Container Garden Care

Pot and Container Sizes for Growing Vegetable Crops

Container and Pot Sizes: How Much Soil Do I Need?

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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