11 Annuals for Spring: Colourful Blooming Flowers for Spring

A guide for choosing annual flowers to add to your spring garden.

As we leave the frost of winter behind, and breathe in the fresh, pollinated air of spring, adding some spring-flowering annuals will refresh your garden for this lively season ahead. 

What is an Annual Plant?

An annual is a species of plant that completes its entire life cycle within a single growing season. This means that from germination to flowering, seed production, and eventual death, annual plants go through their entire life process in one year. Many vegetables and flowering plants are annuals. 

Annual flowers will bloom for one season, as opposed to perennial plants which will come back again next year. Flowering annuals are loved by gardeners for their vibrant and diverse blooms, which they produce abundantly during their short lifespan.

Annuals are also known for their versatility — easily incorporated into garden beds, window boxes, pots and as container plants to provide bursts of colour and beauty throughout the growing season.

Popular annual flowers include marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, pansies, sweet peas,and sunflowers, among so many others. 

RELATED READING: 18 Flowering Perennials That Bloom All Summer Long
Colourful annuals to plant in your garden
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in a spring garden.


Annual Types: Tender Annuals & Hardy Annuals

In the world of gardening, ‘tender annuals’ and ‘hardy annuals’ represent two different categories of annual plants. 


‘Tender annuals’ are plants that are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost, typically thriving in warmer climates. They require planting after the threat of frost has passed (the last frost date) and often cannot survive the winter and cold weather. 


In contrast, ‘hardy annuals’ are more resilient to cold conditions and can withstand light frosts. These plants are usually sown in early spring and can endure cool temperatures, providing colourful blooms from early to late in the growing season. 


Spring-flowering annuals are typically a mix of both hardy and tender annuals, based on the local climate and the gardener’s desired timing and duration of their flower gardens. 

Hardy annuals are often favoured for early spring blooms because they can withstand cooler temperatures and light frosts, making them suitable for planting as soon as the ground can be worked in the spring. Some common hardy annuals for spring include pansies and calendulas.

Gardeners often select a combination of both hardy and tender annuals for a continuous display of colourful blooms throughout the spring and into the summer, catering to their local climate conditions and aesthetic preferences.

11 Types of Annual Plants That Will Add Colour to Your Garden in Spring

Here’s a list of some of the best spring flowering annuals for your garden:

— Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

Create pillows of delicate colour in your garden with sweet alyssum. These petite, plentiful flowers are easy to maintain, and they are durable little things that can withstand drought.

Enjoy the honey-like aroma of these Mediterranean natives, which tend to form a carpet-like shape as they fill garden beds, or cascade over garden walls and containers. Perfect for ground cover design.

White, rose pink, or violet, these full sun to light shade annuals will attract bees and butterflies, elevating the life and liveliness of your garden.


Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

— Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)

Perhaps a bit “grandma”, but dianthus flowers can add a bit of fantasy to your spring garden with their white, pink or red petals, and contrasting eye.

Most often grown as annuals, they can also grow as a short-lived perennial. They tend to grow in tight-knit, flattened clusters atop their upright, bright green stems. Growing about 30-40cm tall, these cottage flowers bloom in the late spring and will add dimension and layers to your garden.

Poppies in spring garden

— Poppies

Poppies are a fun and cheerful addition to spring gardens. These colourful and low-maintenance flowers can be sown directly into well-drained soil as the soil temperature rises, or planted as seedlings most times of the year.

Thriving in sunny spots, they grace the garden with their tall, vibrant blooms. There are plenty of colours to choose from — the classic red poppies through to yellow, orange, pinks, purple and more. Poppies are a cheery addition for your garden’s flower borders, or plug them into bare spots in the vegetable garden for a pop of colour.

Sweet peas in spring garden

— Sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

Coming in an array of gentle pastel and rich hues, sweet peas are a loved garden classic. They are spring and early summer bloomers. These climbing annuals need support to grow upright — their lively tendrils will curl around whatever is helping them up, whether that’s a fence, garden structure or otherwise.

Growing around 1.5-2m tall, they are a beautiful addition to any garden, especially with their gorgeous fragrant flowers which are also great for picking. They can tolerate a light frost and have an aversion to humid climates. Sweet peas are native to Sicily and Aegean Islands of southern Italy.

Snap dragons in spring garden

— Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)

The colourful, cone shaped annuals are eye-catching garden plants, perfect for layers and texture in your spring garden. Coming in a list of colours and combinations such as pink, orange, peach, yellow, purple and red, these colourful flowers bloom from spring to autumn. For a little drama, plant them en masse, clustering snapdragons in flower beds, borders or containers. They are also great as cut flowers!

— Stock (Matthiola incana)

These bundles of theatrical petals belong to the family of plants that include mustard, cabbage and kale (Brassicaceae).

These enchanting flowers of the Mediterranean region will permeate your garden with their sweet spicy and clove-like scent. Producing clusters of white, pink, lavender, red and pink flowers, these single or double annuals grow 30-45 cm and prefer full sun to partial shade. These are perfect for that fairy-tale spring garden.

— Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

Cornflowers are a vibrant and textural flower, with a slight magical essence. They are an abundantly blooming flower of typically bright blue petals that are a magnet for garden critters such as bees and butterflies. Also known as bachelor’s buttons, they bloom from late spring into late summer, and are lovely for cutting and drying. This vibrant flower will add a wild allure to your garden. 

Calendula planted in a raised garden bed with vegetables and herbs. Calendula is known to help deter pests from the vegetable garden.

Calendula officinalis

Sometimes known as ‘pot marigold’. Sunshine in flower form, calendula flowers command attention! Versatile, bold and cheerful, this daisy-like flower is easy to maintain and will rise royally above their fragrant foliage and greenery. With a combination of sun and shade, these annual plants will reward you with bright orange and yellow flowers.

— Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)

Airy and pristine, these idyllic, snowy white domed flowers are perfect for that soft fairy-like aesthetic. These unique and beautiful blooms encapsulate elegance and gentleness. Social flowers, they love mingling with their garden counterparts, and will bloom in the late spring.

If you’re wanting to create a bee and butterfly garden, adding these florals into your landscape will have your garden teeming with little critters in no time. Full sun or partial shade, and well-draining soil.

Pansies in spring garden

— Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis)

With velvety flowers and multi-chromatic shades of blue, purple, pink, yellow and white, pansy flowers curate a sweet charm in the garden. A variant of violas, they tend to share similar features with the heart-shaped petals and almost hand painted face-like details. Blooming in the spring, and remaining short, they will add soft and dramatic shades to your garden.

Did you know that the petals are edible and pair well with salads or as decoration for cakes and desserts?

Orlaya in spring garden

— Orlaya Grandiflora

‘White lace flower’. Lacy and sparkling white, similar to the blooms of Ammi majus, these annual flowers are dainty and textural. With a central floret, flanked by a ring of larger petals, these unique, yet dignified flowers bloom vigorously from late spring, and reach around 75cm tall. Their compact nature is perfect for those smaller landscapes, and would be great for garden borders, city or cottage gardens or garden beds.