An annual is any plant that is grown for one season only and replanted annually. Annuals either complete their lifecycle in one season or simply don’t overwinter in our climate. They’re usually grown for their colorful foliage or continuous blooms, though most vegetables are also annuals.

Sun or Shade

When choosing annuals, the first thing to consider is how much light your area gets in a day. Generally speaking, full sun annuals need at least 6 hours of direct sun per day, and shade annuals need less than 6 hours of direct sun per day. Usually, a southern or western exposure will provide more light, whereas a northern or eastern exposure provides less.

The time of day that a plant receives sun can also impact the plant, and can be helpful to note. Afternoon sun is the most intense sun of the day. In combination with the highest temperatures of the day, it can be perfect for some sun-loving plants and too much for others. Some plants prefer direct sun only in the morning or evening, when it is less intense.

Below is a more specific guideline for choosing annuals based on the light requirements specified on a plant’s tag.

Full Sun: Direct sun for 6 or more hours a day. Tolerate a bit less than 6 hours if it’s afternoon sun, with southern or western exposure.
Part Sun/Part Shade: 4-6 hours of direct sun.
Full Shade: Less than 4 hours of direct sun. Prefer sun in morning or evening, with northern or eastern exposure.

SunPart ShadeShade
MarigoldEuphorbiaEnglish Ivy
VerbenaMexican HeatherHypoestes
VincaNew Guinea ImpatiensImpatiens


When choosing any plant, it’s important to consider the height it will reach. Check the plant tag for height and plan accordingly by placing taller plants behind shorter ones.

Watering Tips

– The best time to water is in the morning.
– If possible, water the soil and try not to get the foliage wet. This gives water where the plant really needs it and helps prevent foliar disease.
– Each plant variety has individual watering needs, so check the tag of each plant for specifics.
– Consider factors that can affect watering needs, such as soil type, rain, temperature, whether it’s in a container or bed, and the size of the plant and container.
– Annuals in containers or baskets:

– Usually need to be watered more often than annuals planted in a bed
– Bigger containers generally need more water
– It’s generally good practice to saturate the soil to the point that water runs out the bottom of the pot
– If it gets very dry, to the point of the soil pulling away from the container, try watering thoroughly once, letting it soak in, and then watering again so the soil can expand and the plant can recover.
– For more detailed watering tips, check out Hanging Basket and Container Care Tips