14 of the Best Annuals for Late Summer Color

14 of the Best Annuals for Late Summer Color

Looking to add vibrant colors to your garden in late summer? Check out these 14 best annuals for late summer color, handpicked to provide you with a burst of hues and joyous blooms throughout the season.


Late summer is a time when we want our gardens to shine with vivid colors, even as the days start to shorten. Annual plants, with their quick growth and profusion of blooms, are the perfect choice to keep your garden vibrant and lively during this time. In this article, we’ll explore the top 14 annuals that are guaranteed to bring an explosion of color to your garden. From cheerful marigolds to delicate petunias, these flowers are sure to brighten up your late summer landscape. Let’s dive in!

Marigolds: Sun-Kissed Beauties

Marigolds: Sun-Kissed Beauties

Marigolds are a classic choice for late summer color. Their warm hues of gold, orange, and red evoke the feeling of the setting sun. These hardy flowers thrive in full sunlight and well-drained soil. The Tagetes variety, in particular, is known for its pest-repelling properties, making it a great companion plant in the garden.

Petunias: A Symphony of Colors


Petunias are a favorite among gardeners for their vast array of colors and patterns. Whether you prefer the single or double blooms, petunias will not disappoint. From soft pastels to bold and bright shades, these annuals are sure to add a touch of elegance to your late summer garden.

Zinnias: Bursting with Brilliance


Zinnias are like fireworks in the garden, bursting with vibrant colors in various shapes and sizes. These heat-tolerant flowers come in an impressive range of shades, including pink, red, orange, yellow, and even green. Zinnias are beloved by butterflies and bees, making them an excellent choice for pollinator-friendly gardens.

Cosmos: Graceful and Airy

Cosmos: Graceful and Airy

Cosmos flowers have an air of grace and delicacy that is simply enchanting. Their daisy-like blooms come in lovely shades of pink, white, and crimson. These tall, slender plants sway gently in the breeze, adding movement and charm to any garden.

Salvia: Majestic Spikes of Color

Salvia: Majestic Spikes of Color

Salvia is a stately plant with majestic spikes of color that bloom throughout late summer and into fall. Their long-lasting flowers come in shades of purple, red, pink, and blue, attracting hummingbirds and bees to their nectar-rich blooms.

Sunflowers: A Symbol of Happiness


Sunflowers are the epitome of late summer joy. These towering beauties with their large, sunny faces are a symbol of happiness and optimism. While they come in various heights, the classic tall varieties are a striking addition to any garden.

Snapdragons: Vertical Color Accents


Snapdragons are excellent for adding vertical interest and pops of color to your late summer garden. These spikes of blooms come in a wide range of colors, and their unique shape allows you to create stunning floral arrangements as well.

Lantanas: Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds


Lantanas are butterfly and hummingbird magnets, making them an excellent choice for wildlife-friendly gardens. These clusters of small, tubular flowers come in various shades of pink, yellow, orange, and purple.

Verbena: Spreading Splendor


Verbena is a low-growing, spreading plant that provides a carpet of color in your garden. Its fragrant flowers come in shades of purple, pink, white, and red, attracting butterflies and bees throughout late summer.

Celosia: Uniquely Stunning


Celosia, also known as cockscomb, is a truly unique annual with its captivating crested blooms that resemble a rooster’s comb. These velvety flowers come in shades of red, pink, orange, and gold, adding a touch of drama to your garden.

Asters: Late Bloomers


Asters are a delightful surprise in the late summer garden when many other flowers start to fade. These daisy-like blooms come in shades of purple, blue, pink, and white, providing a burst of color well into the fall season.

Dahlias: Dazzling Beauties


Dahlias are beloved for their stunning and intricate blooms that come in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes. From dinner-plate sized flowers to pom-pom blooms, dahlias offer an unparalleled visual display in late summer.

Cleome: Spider-Like Charm


Cleome, also known as spider flower, is an eye-catching annual with its long, spidery blooms that come in shades of pink, white, and lavender. These tall plants add a touch of whimsy and charm to your late summer garden.

Nasturtiums: Edible Beauty


Nasturtiums are not just pretty; they are also edible! These delightful flowers come in shades of orange, red, and yellow and have a slightly peppery flavor that adds a unique twist to salads and other dishes.


Q: How do I care for annuals in late summer?

A: To care for annuals in late summer, ensure they receive enough water, especially during hot and dry periods. Deadhead spent blooms regularly to encourage continuous flowering. Applying a balanced liquid fertilizer every few weeks can also promote healthy growth.

Q: Can I grow annuals in containers?

A: Absolutely! Growing annuals in containers is a fantastic way to add color and beauty to small spaces, balconies, patios, and even windowsills. Many annual flowers are well-suited for container gardening and can thrive in pots and planters with proper care. Here are some tips to successfully grow annuals in containers:

  • Choose the Right Container: Select containers with good drainage holes to prevent waterlogging and ensure the health of your plants. The size of the container should be appropriate for the mature size of the annuals you plan to grow.
  • Use High-Quality Potting Mix: Use a well-draining potting mix that is specially formulated for container gardening. Avoid using garden soil, as it may compact in containers and impede root growth.
  • Select Suitable Annuals: While most annuals can be grown in containers, some varieties are better suited than others. Choose compact and bushy varieties that won’t outgrow the container quickly. Some popular annuals for containers include petunias, geraniums, pansies, and lobelia.
  • Provide Adequate Sunlight: Most annuals prefer full sun, so place your containers in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. If your space has limited sunlight, consider shade-tolerant annuals like begonias or impatiens.
  • Water Regularly: Container-grown plants tend to dry out faster than those in the ground. Check the soil moisture regularly and water as needed to keep it consistently moist but not waterlogged. Be mindful of watering during hot and dry periods.
  • Fertilize Appropriately: Annuals in containers benefit from regular feeding. Use a balanced liquid fertilizer or slow-release granules according to the package instructions to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth and abundant blooms.
  • Prune and Deadhead: To encourage continuous flowering and maintain compact growth, pinch back leggy stems and remove spent blooms regularly.
  • Protect from Extreme Weather: During extreme weather conditions like heatwaves or heavy rain, move your containers to a more sheltered spot to protect the plants from damage.
  • Consider Companion Planting: Combine different annuals in a single container to create stunning displays. Pay attention to their growth habits and ensure they have similar water and sunlight requirements.
  • Monitor for Pests and Diseases: Keep an eye out for common pests and diseases that may affect your container-grown annuals. Promptly address any issues to prevent them from spreading.

With proper care and attention, growing annuals in containers can be a rewarding and enjoyable gardening experience. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful and colorful display that brightens up your outdoor space throughout the late summer season. Happy container gardening!

Q: How often should I water my late summer annuals?

A: The watering frequency for late summer annuals can vary depending on several factors, such as the specific plant species, the climate in your region, the size of the containers, and the prevailing weather conditions. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow to determine how often to water your late summer annuals:

  • Check the Soil Moisture: Before watering, check the moisture level of the soil in your containers. Insert your finger about an inch or two into the soil. If it feels dry to the touch, it’s time to water.
  • Observe the Weather: Take note of the weather conditions in your area. During hot and dry periods, your containers may need more frequent watering to prevent the soil from drying out rapidly.
  • Consider Container Size: Smaller containers tend to dry out faster than larger ones since they have less soil volume to retain moisture. Be prepared to water smaller containers more frequently.
  • Watch for Wilting: If you notice your late summer annuals wilting, it’s a sign that they need water. However, don’t rely solely on wilting as an indicator, as some plants may naturally wilt during the hottest part of the day.
  • Watering Depth: When watering, aim to moisten the entire root zone of the plants. Water until you see water draining out from the bottom of the container. This ensures that the roots have access to sufficient water.
  • Avoid Waterlogging: While it’s essential to keep the soil moist, avoid overwatering, as waterlogged soil can lead to root rot and other problems. Make sure the containers have proper drainage to prevent excess water retention.
  • Adjust for Rainfall: If your area experiences occasional rainfall during late summer, you may need to adjust your watering schedule accordingly. Reduce watering if the soil is already adequately moist from the rain.
  • Time of Day: Water your late summer annuals in the early morning or late afternoon. This allows the plants to absorb the water before the heat of the day sets in, reducing water loss due to evaporation.

As a general rule of thumb, you may need to water your late summer annuals every 1 to 3 days, depending on the factors mentioned above. However, it’s essential to pay attention to the specific needs of each plant and adjust your watering schedule accordingly. By providing your annuals with the right amount of water, you can help ensure their health and vitality throughout the late summer season.

Q: What is the best location for planting annuals?

A: The best location for planting annuals largely depends on the specific types of annuals you intend to grow and the prevailing environmental conditions in your region. However, there are some general guidelines to consider when choosing the ideal location for planting annuals:

  • Sunlight Exposure: Most annuals thrive in full sun, which means they require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Therefore, choose a location that receives ample sunlight and is not heavily shaded by buildings, trees, or other structures.
  • Avoid Hot Afternoon Sun: While annuals need sunlight, it’s essential to avoid planting them in areas that receive intense and direct afternoon sun, especially in hotter climates. Extreme heat can stress and wilt the plants. Morning sunlight or filtered sunlight in the afternoon is preferable.
  • Consider Shade-Tolerant Varieties: If your garden has limited sunlight or areas of partial shade, consider planting shade-tolerant annuals, such as impatiens, begonias, or coleus.
  • Soil Drainage: Choose a location with well-draining soil. Poorly drained soil can lead to root rot and other moisture-related problems. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider using raised beds or containers to improve drainage.
  • Proximity to Water Source: Select a location that is convenient to water sources, especially if you live in a hot and dry climate. This will make it easier to keep your annuals adequately watered.
  • Wind Protection: If your area experiences strong winds, consider planting annuals in a location that provides some protection from the wind. Wind can quickly dry out plants and damage delicate flowers.
  • Garden Aesthetics: Plan the layout of your garden to create an aesthetically pleasing display. Consider the height, colors, and textures of the different annuals you want to plant to create a harmonious and visually appealing arrangement.
  • Companion Planting: Some annuals may benefit from companion planting with certain vegetables or other flowers. For example, marigolds are believed to deter pests when planted alongside vegetables.
  • Accessibility: Choose a location that is easily accessible for planting, weeding, and maintenance tasks. It should also allow sufficient space for the annuals to grow and spread without overcrowding.
  • Consider Microclimates: Larger gardens can have microclimates, where certain areas may be slightly warmer or cooler than others. Observe these microclimates and plant annuals accordingly.

Ultimately, the best location for planting annuals is one that meets the specific needs of the plants and allows them to thrive in your unique garden environment. By selecting a suitable location, you can ensure that your annuals grow healthy and produce a stunning display of colors throughout the late summer season.

Q: Do annuals attract pollinators?

A: Yes, many annuals are attractive to pollinators, making them valuable contributors to a biodiverse and thriving garden ecosystem. Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other insects, play a crucial role in the reproduction and fruiting of plants. They transfer pollen from one flower to another, enabling fertilization and the production of seeds and fruits.

Annual flowers often produce nectar-rich blooms that serve as a food source for pollinators. The bright colors and enticing fragrances of these flowers act as natural invitations to attract pollinators. As pollinators visit the flowers in search of nectar, they inadvertently pick up and carry pollen, facilitating cross-pollination between plants.

Some annuals are particularly effective in attracting specific pollinators. For example:

  • Bees: Flowers with open shapes, such as daisies, sunflowers, and zinnias, are attractive to bees. Bees are essential pollinators for many crops and wild plants.
  • Butterflies: Flowers with bright colors and tubular shapes, such as lantanas, verbena, and petunias, are favored by butterflies. Butterflies have long proboscis that allow them to access nectar deep within the flowers.
  • Hummingbirds: Flowers with long, tubular blooms, like salvia, fuchsia, and petunias, are specially adapted to attract hummingbirds. These birds have a remarkable ability to hover in front of the flowers and feed on their nectar.
  • Other Insects: Many other insects, such as beetles and moths, are also attracted to the nectar of various annual flowers.

By planting a diverse selection of annuals in your garden, you can create a pollinator-friendly environment that supports a wide range of beneficial insects and birds. Pollinators not only aid in the reproduction of plants but also contribute to the overall health and resilience of the ecosystem. Additionally, attracting pollinators to your garden can enhance its beauty and provide a delightful experience for you as you observe these fascinating creatures at work.

To support pollinators in your garden, avoid the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides, provide a water source, and ensure that there are flowering plants in your garden throughout the growing season. Creating a pollinator-friendly garden not only benefits the environment but also adds an extra layer of enchantment to your late summer landscape.

Q: Can I save seeds from my annuals for next year?

A: Yes, in many cases, you can save seeds from your annuals to grow new plants for the following year. However, it’s essential to understand that not all annuals produce viable seeds, and some may be hybrids, which may not come true from seed. Here are some general guidelines for saving seeds from annual plants:

  • Open-Pollinated Annuals: Open-pollinated annuals are plants that are pollinated by natural means, such as wind, insects, or birds. These plants are more likely to produce seeds that come true to the parent plant. Examples of open-pollinated annuals include marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias.
  • Heirloom Varieties: Heirloom annuals are open-pollinated plants with a long history of cultivation and stable genetic traits. Saving seeds from heirloom varieties can ensure the next generation of plants retains the same characteristics.
  • Hybrid Annuals: Hybrid annuals are the result of cross-pollination between two different parent plants. While they often exhibit desirable traits like disease resistance or unique colors, the seeds from hybrid plants may not produce offspring with the same characteristics as the parent plant.
  • Collecting Seeds: To save seeds from your annuals, allow the flowers to mature and produce seed pods or seed heads. When the seeds are fully developed and dry, remove the seed pods or heads from the plant and place them in a paper bag or envelope. Store them in a cool, dry place until the next planting season.
  • Labeling: Properly label your seed collection to identify the plant species, variety, and the date the seeds were collected. This information will help you keep track of the seeds and know what to expect when you plant them in the future.
  • Germination and Viability: Keep in mind that not all seeds may be viable, especially if they were not collected properly or if the parent plant was a hybrid. It’s a good idea to perform a germination test on a small batch of saved seeds before planting them on a larger scale.
  • Sharing Seeds: If you have an abundance of saved seeds, consider sharing them with fellow gardeners or participating in seed exchange programs to promote biodiversity and preserve plant diversity.

It’s important to note that some annuals are better suited for saving seeds than others. Additionally, not all gardeners may have the time or resources to save seeds, and it’s perfectly acceptable to purchase new seeds or seedlings each year. Regardless of your approach, gardening with annuals offers a wealth of colors and blooms to enjoy throughout the late summer season and beyond.


Adding vibrant annuals to your late summer garden is a surefire way to elevate its beauty and charm. From the sun-kissed marigolds to the enchanting cosmos and elegant dahlias, each of these 14 best annuals brings a unique touch of color and character to your outdoor space. By carefully selecting and caring for these annual flowers, you can create a breathtaking late summer display that will impress and inspire all who visit your garden.

Remember, gardening is a wonderful blend of creativity and nature’s magic. So, go ahead, plant your favorite annuals, and watch your garden come alive with vivid hues, providing you with a delightful oasis to enjoy during the late summer days.