marigolds 2As the warm temperatures and sunny skies of summer bring my borders into full bloom I am thinking ahead to late summer and early fall when my borders will begin to decline as both annuals and perennials have spent their energies on their beautiful blooms and prepare for winter. If I plant some seeds of annuals in early July I can fill in gradually as plants poop out and maintain a full, bountiful look until I want embrace the fall look with mums and pansies.Here are my picks. Since time is probably of the essence I am only including plants the seeds of which are available in local garden centers, germinate quickly, and are easy to grow. I use 6-packs that I have saved from my spring buying and usually plant a couple of large seeds or a tiny sprinkling of fine seeds in each cell.

Alyssum wh lavSweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritime): I love this plant in the spring but it can’t take the heat here in zone 7 of the North Carolina Piedmont and poops out during the spring. It will often reseed itself but not always so I like to have a supply of them to fill in for the portulaca that fades by late August in my garden. The sweet alyssum comes in white, purple, or pink.

Cosmos sulphureusCosmos (Cosmos sulpureus): These are the shorter cosmos (about 2’) that come in yellow, gold and orange. They can be grown for early bloom but will decline by mid summer. If started in July they will provide bloom well into fall.

celosiaCockscomb (Celosia argentea var. cristata) There are four groups but the ones that are easiest to find in seed packs at local garden centers are those that have feathery plumose spike flowers and those that have colored brain-like flowers. I always grow the plumose kind and find that they often reseed. They come in yellow, gold, red, and orange so they fit in well with fall coloration.

zinnia orangeZinnia (Zinnia elegans): There are many different zinnias but you are most likely to find the seeds for tall ones with either large or small flowers. They come in red, pink, yellow, orange, white, lavender, and green. There are short zinnias (10”) but I have not had much luck finding the seed in stores.

marigolds 2Marigold (Tagetes spp): There are many different kinds of marigolds and even a plant snob can find one that would be pleasing in a late summer, early fall garden. Avoid putting them with red salvia and they will take on a whole new life. Plants may be tall or short, orange, yellow, or a combination of orange with red accents. These are wonderful harbingers of fall.

Start seeds of these plants and you will have an easy and cheap way to extend the life of your garden. The yellow, orange, and purple colors of the flowers will bring colors that look toward fall and provide a good transition from summer.

By Karen

4 thoughts on “Five Easy Annuals from Seed for Late Season Color”
  1. interesting article on late season annuals, but what i really enjoyed was your articles on 10 chartresuse flowers and 6 chartresue plants.

    i am trying to find the name of a plant that is common around here (weed?), shade (grows around trees and under bushes) ordinary leaves, but here in western new york in late july it sends up racemes? or stems with tiny bright chartreuse flowers on them. if they werent chartreuse you would never notice them. the racemes stand out well above the leaves, reaching toward the sun. i think the teensy flowers turn to seeds later.
    do you know what this is? when should i plant the seeds, and how do i tell what the plant is so i dont pull up the leaves earlier in the summer thinking is just a weed? if it’s a weed, i think it’s wonderful.


  2. It’s mid April & very few flowers are blooming. There are profusly-blooming dogwwods, azaleas, lilacs and ground phlox, but next yr I’d like to have something blooming this time of year. In fact, what I’d really appreciate are pants I can grow from seed that would be blooming. Any ideas?
    In Richmond, the temps average 60-70 F dayly but often dip to the 40’s & 50’s nightly.
    Maybe larkspur or something else that I could seed in the fall for spring blooms?
    I will definately ise your ideas for late summer/fall seed!

    1. Nancy,

      How about iris for spring bloom? Also Solomon’s seal, bleeding heart, and Tiarella. Mine are blooming big time right now. Take a look at my last couple of Garden Journal entries to see what blooms in my North Carolina (Piedmont) garden. I do a garden journal every week during the gardening season and most of the plants would do equally well in Richmond (VA).



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