Annuals are a common solution for many gardeners who need quick-growing flowers to fill their garden beds. A good mix of annual plants can offer vibrant colors for your garden.
There are many options to choose from, but selecting the right annuals is all about knowing what will thrive in your particular garden. One important thing to consider is the amount of sun vs. shade your flower bed receives.
This article for the top 10 annuals for Texas, has only a few of the top plants grown in our state. However, Texas A&M’s Superstar offers a full list of recommended plants.
Here are a few of our favorites, divided between plants that thrive in full sun and those that prefer partial shade:
Since Texas is one the hottest states with sunshine for most of the year, one can find a huge variety of annuals that thrive here. This includes flowering annuals, decorative shrubs and grasses, as well as larger bushes. Below are five examples of full sun annuals.
- Angelonia is a spreading annual with upright flower spikes that resemble miniature snapdragons. Flower colors include white, pink, purple, lavender, and lavender-pink. Angelonia can be used as a border planting, a ground cover, or as a trailing plant for mixed containers.
- Bluebonnet: This popular low-maintenance winter annual is now available in white and pink, in addition to the classic blue.
- Globe Amaranths are versatile, often overlooked summer annuals that thrive in the Texas heat. Varieties range in size from 8 inches to 48 inches. They vary in color from whites to pinks, and from light lavenders to dark rich purples.
- Petunias: 3 types of petunia made the list, however one can plant all 3 and create a color array of flowers. Laurel Bush petunia, Cherry and Silver petunias are all hardy Texas-friendly annuals.
- Zinnias produce disease-resistant mounds of color that last until frost when planted in late summer. All varieties produce vibrant colors that will brighten the cool autumn days.
Partial Sun / Shade
Texas summers are seemingly endless, and a bit of shade provides relief from the sun and heat. It is nice to have a variety of annuals that thrive in both environments. A colorful shade garden is a great way to liven up the dimmer corners of your yard. Check out the these five partial-shade annuals:
- Texas Sage: This upright tender perennial provides rich color for annual bedding schemes. Its deep red flowers are borne on 2 to 2.5 foot, open spikes that bloom from summer to autumn. Plants grow to about a foot wide and bear hairy, oval and heart-shaped leaves.
- Rio Series Mandevilla: These compact plants grow best in patio containers. They can be grown alone or mixed with other annuals wherever a splash of color is needed. They tolerate summer heat, but would benefit from some afternoon shade.
- Cora Vinca: These are tolerant to heat and humidity, and are also deer-resistant. They are available in a wide array of colors, with either upright or trailing habits. Cora vinca flowers throughout the summer, boasting some of the largest flowers in its genus.
- Mexican Feather Grass: This plant is native in North America, to mountains in west Texas and along the New Mexico border. It’s become widely used throughout hospitable areas of the US. Given the right conditions: well-drained soil, the right amount of water, and adequate sunlight – this grass can actually become invasive outside of its native range.
- Caladium The brilliant foliage of this plant is often translucent, allowing light to pass through your garden wherever it resides. These plants easily brighten the shady spots in your landscape despite their lack of flowers. Caladium has leaves shaped like hearts, arrows, or lances, in color combinations of red, pink, rose, white, and green.
When planting the top 10 annuals for Texas, carefully prepare your soil with fertilizer. Proper fertilization helps get your annuals off to a good start, and will keep them growing well all season.
Dig out any weeds in the area, and add a 3-inch layer of compost or other organic amendment. This quite literally lays a healthy groundwork for your bed of annuals to thrive in.
You can start annuals from seeds or directly in the garden. You can also purchase plants in flats, cell-packs, peat pots, or gallon containers to save time. After planting, water the bed thoroughly. Seedlings or transplants may need water once a day in warm weather. Once they become established, you can gradually reduce watering.