10 Stunning Annual Wildflowers to Admire

Annual wildflowers are a cheap, easy way of bringing color to your garden. These wildflowers grow quickly because they only last for one year. In this article, we’ll explore ten popular types of annual wildflowers.

10 Popular Types of Annual Wildflowers

About Annual Wildflowers

Annuals are one of the three main types of flowers, alongside biennials and perennials. Annual wildflowers last only one year before dying off entirely in the fall.

Annual wildflowers grow more quickly than biennials or perennials and bloom for more extended periods. Before dying off, annual wildflowers often self-seed. The seeds lay dormant over the winter before blooming the following year.

Annuals are generally easier to grow than biennials or perennials and require very little maintenance. Deadheading annuals throughout the wildflower blooming season produce more flowers.

1) Borage

Borage are popular types of annual wildflowers

Borage is both a beautiful annual wildflower and a useful herb in the Boraginaceae family. These annuals are originally native to Europe but can be grown in the United States.

Borage is famed for its star-shaped blue flowers that attract legions of bees and other pollinators. Borage plants also have hairy leaves and stems. Young borage leaves are edible, while the flowers make an attractive garnish.

These wildflowers need full sun and loose, well-draining soil. Sow borage seeds in early spring, either indoors or directly in the ground.

Scientific Name:Borage officinalis
Height:Up to 3 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Loose, well-draining soils

2) California Poppy

Orange California Poppies in bloom close by to the Pacific ocean.

California poppies are some of the most iconic wildflowers in California. These stunning annuals belong to the Eschscholzia genus of the poppy family (Papaveraceae). California poppies are native to the Western United States and Northern Mexico.

These annual wildflowers have feathery blue-green leaves and gorgeous orange cup-shaped flowers. Other colors include red, yellow, or pink. Since 1903, this wonderful wildflower has been the official state flower of California.

California poppies require full sun and loose, well-draining soils. Sandy or gritty nutrient-poor soils are ideal. Sow seeds in the spring or start them indoors a few weeks before the last expected frost.

Scientific Name:Eschscholzia californica
Height:Up to 1.5 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Loose, well-draining soils

3) Carolina Geranium

Carolina Geranium flowers in bloom

Also known as Carolina cranesbill, Carolina geraniums are widespread across much of the United States. They grow best in shady woodland habitats. These attractive annual wildflowers belong to the Geraniaceae family.

Carolina geraniums have pinkish-red stems and finely-lobed palmate leaves. Carolina geraniums produce pink, purple, or white flowers during spring and summer.

Carolina geraniums thrive in USDA Zones 2 to 11. These annuals need partial shade and loose, well-draining soils. Carolina geraniums are drought-tolerant and prefer gritty, sandy, or clay soils.

Scientific Name:Geranium carolinianum
Height:1 to 2 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Partial shade
Soil Preferences:Loose, well-draining soils

4) Cornflowers

Dark blue Cornflowers growing natively in the wild

Cornflowers are originally native to Europe but have become naturalized in the United States. These intensely-colored annuals come from the Centaurea genus in the aster family (Asteraceae).

These flowers produce dramatic blue flowers that can be up to 1.5 inches wide. Some cornflowers may produce pink or white flowers.

Cornflowers thrive in full sun and need well-draining soils that still retain moisture. They also attract pollinators, making them ideal for vegetable plots.

Scientific Name:Centaurea cyanus
Height:Up to 3 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to summer
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

5) Cosmos

A cluster of colorful pink and purple cosmos flowers in bloom

Cosmos are some of the most well-known annual wildflowers. These colorful plants are native to the Western United States and Central and South America. They belong to the aster family (Asteraceae).

Cosmos produce daisy-like flowers on the end of tall flower stalks and also have feathery leaves. Annual cosmos come in colors like pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, and white.

Cosmos need full sun and loose, well-draining soils. Their beautiful blooms make excellent cut flowers.

Scientific Name:Cosmos spp.
Height:Up to 6 feet tall
Flowering Season:Summer to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Loose, well-draining soils

6) Plains Coreopsis

Yellow and maroon Plains Coreopsis flowers growing in a wild meadow

Also known as golden tickseed, plains coreopsis is an annual member of the Coreopsis genus. These plants come from the aster family (Asteraceae). Plains coreopsis is native to North America and Mexico.

Plains coreopsis produces small yellow flowers with dark red centers and disk florets. The brown seeds resemble ticks, hence the common name.

Plains coreopsis grows best in Zones 2 to 11. These charming annual wildflowers need full sun and moist, well-draining soils.

Scientific Name:Coreopsis tinctoria
Height:2 to 4 feet
Flowering Season:Summer to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

7) Pot Marigold

Bright orange pot marigold flowers in bloom

Pot marigolds come from the Calendula genus of the aster family (Asteraceae). Originally native to southern Europe, pot marigolds are naturalized across most of the world’s temperate habitats.

Pot marigolds have bright orange or yellow flowers and hairy oblong leaves. In Zones 9 to 11, pot marigolds are perennials. But in most other climate zones, they grow as annuals.

Pot marigolds like full sun or partial shade and rich, well-draining soils. Pot marigolds are excellent companion plants for vegetable gardens.

Scientific Name:Calendula officinalis
Height:Up to 2 feet
Flowering Season:Spring to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun or partial shade
Soil Preferences:Rich, well-draining soils

8) Red Poppy

A field of red poppies against a blue sky

Red poppies are annual herbaceous wildflowers from the Papaveraceae family. These gorgeous flowers are native to Europe and Asia. Red poppies also symbolize remembrance of those who died in armed conflict.

Red poppies have large cup-shaped red flowers that can be up to 4 inches wide. Each flower has four petals arranged around a black disc floret.

Red poppies thrive in Zones 3 to 10. These wildflowers prefer full sun and moist, well-draining soils.

Scientific Name:Papaver rhoeas
Height:Up to 1.5 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

9) Sunflowers

A field of golden sunflowers in bloom on a sunny day

Sunflowers are tall, cheery annuals from the Helianthus genus in the aster family. Sunflowers are native to the United States and Central America.

Sunflowers produce large yellow or red flowers with prominent seed heads. These seeds are harvested as crops and also provide food for birds. Sunflowers also have rough leaves and hairy stems.

Sunflowers need full sun and moist, well-draining soils in Zones 2 to 11. Some sunflowers can reach up to 10 feet tall, so stake larger varieties to stop them from getting blown over.

Scientific Name:Helianthus spp.
Height:3 to 10 feet
Flowering Season:Summer
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Moist, well-draining soils

10) Zinnias

A cluster of colorful zinnia flowers in bloom

Zinnias are colorful, charismatic annual wildflowers from Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Zinnias belong to the aster family in the same group as sunflowers.

Zinnia flower colors include pink, purple, orange, red, yellow, green, and white. These annual wildflowers have several ray petals surrounding central disc florets. These flowers are also popular with pollinators.

They grow well in Zones 2 to 11 and need full sun and fertile, well-draining soils. Zinnias flower from early summer until fall.

Scientific Name:Zinnia spp.
Height:1 to 4 feet
Flowering Season:Summer to fall
Light Requirements:Full sun
Soil Preferences:Fertile, well-draining soils

Wrapping Up

Popular types of annual wildflowers come in many shapes and sizes, but all of them are easy to grow. Annual wildflowers only live for a year before dying off completely in the winter. These wildflowers can inject color into your garden throughout summer and fall. Many annual wildflowers are also brilliant at attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. Remember that it’s illegal to pick native flowers unless you’re on private land and have the landowner’s permission.

For more, see our in-depth guide on how to plant wildflowers in your garden and whether wildflowers need fertilizing.

Contributing Editor | edd@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *