Growing Plants in Containers in Full Sun, Part III-The Annuals

zinnia with big butterfly
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In the previous parts of this series, plants which can be grown in a sunny location has been discussed. Part I concern the shrubs and trees that can be grown in containers in full sun, whilst Part II was about perennials or perennials that are treated as annuals, and disposed of as the growing season comes to the end.

zinnia with big butterfly
zinnia with butterfly

In this final part of the series of growing plants in containers in full sun, concerns the annuals or biennials that can be grown in a sunny location. As this can be quite extensive, then the list of plants will not be totally comprehensive but will cover all plants that look striking in the container in full sun. The beauty of annuals is that you can plant multiple plants in the same container, so configuring your container to your desired plant colouring scheme.

The following plants are recommended to be planted in containers in full sun:



This upright annual with its lance-shaped, green leaves, flower from late spring until autumn. It produces spikes of two-lipped flowers that are pink, red, crimson, burgundy, white or yellow in colour.

The colour range is quite extensive and will suit any colour scheme that you may have in your container garden. It is best to grow snapdragons in groups in pots full of multipurpose compost, where they will grow up to 45cm in height.


Arctotis fastuosa
Cape Daisy

This upright annual has lobed, silvery green leaves, and produces masses of bright orange blooms, with dark maroon centres. Cape Daisy flowers throughout the summer months. It is best to plant the 60cm tall plant in groups in pots of multipurpose compost.


Brachyscome iberidifolia
Swan River Daisy

This bushy annual with its feathery green leaves where it grows up to 25cm in height. The display of flowers is quite striking. The daisy-like blooms are blue, pink, purple or white in colour, where they will appear from summer to early autumn. Swan River Daisy look good in hanging baskets and pots grown in multipurpose compost.


Pot Marigold
Pot Marigold

This prolific self-seeding annual often has a bushy form. The foliage is lance-shaped, aromatic and pale green in colour. It flowers from spring to autumn, where numerous orange or yellow single or double blooms are produced. Pot Marigold plants grow up to 60cm in height when planted in a multipurpose compost. Looks good in pots or window boxes.


China Aster

This bushy annual grows up to 60cm in height, with its oval, lobed, green leaves. China Aster produces pink, purple, white or yellow flowers from late summer to autumn. The flowers are either single or double (such as the pompon series). It prefers to be grown in a multipurpose compost in containers.


Spider Flower

This tall growing annual grows up to 1.5m in height with its erect, spiny stems of divided, spear-shaped leaves. In summer, rounded heads of spidery pink, white or purple flowers with long stamens are produced. Like all annuals in prefers to be grown in a multipurpose compost in a large pot.



Another erect annual with its finely divided, ferny green leaves. Tickweed yellow daisy-like flowers with its large dark centres, appear on wiry stems throughout summer. Grow this 60cm tall annual in groups in pots of soil-based compost.



This tall annual grows up to 1.2m tall, with its feathery, green leaves. It is easy to grow from seed or it can be bought as plug plants from garden centres. The daisy-like blooms of shades of pink, red, and white, appear from summer to early autumn. The plant looks stunning when planted in groups of pots filled with multipurpose compost.


Sweet William

This upright biennial that grows up to 70cm in height, has lance-shaped, green leaves. The domed heads of sweetly scented pink, red or burgundy flowers, which usually appear in summer. Sweet William is planted normally the year before to flower the following growing season. It looks great planted in pots of multipurpose compost.



A small annual with narrow, grey feted leaves, produces a mass of yellow, orange, pink or maroon flowers, during the summer months. Ganzania grows up to 25cm tall and can be planted in pots or window boxes in multipurpose compost, mixed with other annuals.


white sunflower
White Sunflower

This 1.2m tall annual has slim, mid-green leaves. The tall stem has a large flower head that is chocolate centred with white petals. It will need staking to prevent the flower stalks from being wind damaged. Grow the sunflowers in a group in a large pot of multipurpose compost in a sheltered site.


Ismelia carinata
Corn Marigold

This branching annual has an erect nature with feathery, grey-green leaves. The daisy-like brown centred flowers come in various colours, and are produced from summer to autumn. Corn Marigold prefers to be planted in multipurpose compost where it will grow up to 60cm in height. ‘Court Jesters’ is a popular variety.


Sweet Pea

This annual climber, with its oval pea-like green leaves are popular all over. The scented flowers of white, pink, purple or red during the summer months. Dwarf forms such as ‘knee high’ can be grown in hanging baskets or window boxes.

Sweet Pea is a very tall plant that can grow up to 3m in height, but requires a wall or fence or a support frame, to grow up. Multipurpose compost is the preferred growing media. In order to encourage new blooms to form deadhead regularly, otherwise, flowering production will stop.



A compact bushy annual with tiny, green leaves. It grows up to 23cm in height, where masses of small, white, blue, pink or mauve flowers appear during the summer months. Plant Lobelia in multipurpose compost in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets.



This compact upright annual has oval, green leaves that produce scented flowers. The spikes that are produced have pink, purple, or white flowers throughout the summer months. The ‘Cinderella’ series is the most popular choice. Stocks like to be planted in multipurpose compost.


Nemphophila menziesii
Baby Blue Eyes

This spreading annual only grows up to 20cm in height. Baby blue eyes have serrated, grey-green leaves, from which, small, saucer-shaped blue flower with white centres appear.  Baby Blue Eyes blooms are produced through the summer months. You can grow it in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets in multipurpose compost.



A compact, dwarf, spreading annual has dark green leaves, where it will grow up to 35cm in height. It produces large, trumpet-shaped yellow flowers from summer to early autumn. Petunia can grow them in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes full of multipurpose compost. You can mix it with other annuals to form a stunning display.


Purple Bell Vine

This annual climber has heart-shaped, mid-green leaves, where it can grow up to 3m in length. The umbrella-shaped flowers, with pink-red tops over dark maroon tubes, dangle above the leaves. Purple Bell Vine flowers from summer to autumn, where it is best to grow in pots of soil-based compost with a framework support.


Annual Clary

This is an annual (not to be confused with the perennial salvia) has grey-green leaves, where it grows up to 45cm in height. In summer, small, tubular flowers, concealed beneath leaf-like bracts are produced.  Annual Clary flowers are either white, pink or purple. Plant in multipurpose compost. The flower stems can actually be cut and dried for use in flower arranging.


Creeping Zinnia

This small spreading annual grows up to 15cm in height, has slim, oval, green leaves. The plants produce a profusion of small daisy-like, yellow flowers with dark-eyed centres.  Creeping Zinnia flowers during summer, where it can appear in hanging baskets, window boxes and pots full of multipurpose compost.

TAGETES PATULA (French Marigold)

French Marigold

This large group of annuals has deeply divided aromatic, dark green leaves. It only grows to 30cm in height, where single or double blooms of shades of yellows, oranges, reds or mahogany.  French marigold flower from summer to early autumn and they prefer to be planted in pots of multipurpose compost. They need regular deadheading to produce more flowers.



This trailing bushy annual has round green leaves, where it can grow up to 30cm in height. The leaves and flowers are edible and will give a tang to your summer salads. Nasturtiums flowers are red, yellow or orange, and are trumpet-like in shape. They can be grown in pots, window boxes or hanging baskets full of multipurpose compost.

VERBENA ‘Peaches and Cream’


This bushy annual has narrow, toothed edged leaves. It grows up to 50cm in height from which clusters of pink, peach and cream flowers are produced throughout summer and autumn. Needs regular deadheading in order to produce more blooms. Can be grown in containers or hanging baskets full of multipurpose compost.

ZINNIA ‘Thumbelina Mix’


A dwarf variety of the popular Zinnia flowers. It is a bushy, dwarf annual of oval, dark green leaves. It only grows to 15cm in height when planted as part of a mixed container, hanging basket or window box full of multipurpose compost. From summer to autumn, semi-double flowers in shades of red, yellow, maroon, or pink are produced.


In this article, annuals and biennials that can be grown in a sunny location have been discussed. As you can see there is a number of varieties that can be grown in containers covering all leaf shapes, flower colours, and forms. They can be grown in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes. No matter where you live there is an annual for you.

If you have a question or comment that you would like to make, please leave them in the comment box below.

Happy Gardening.


8 thoughts on “Growing Plants in Containers in Full Sun, Part III-The Annuals”

  1. Thanks so much for this post. Its very informative for a nature and flower enthusiast like me. I’ve always adored gardening and whenever I enter my garden, I do get thrilled that I forget my worries. I grow some of the highlighted flowers on my garden but growing them in containers seems to be a better idea as they would seem a lot closer to me than having to get to the garden before I can explore them. I’ll give some of the new flowers I learnt of in this post a trial with container gardening in the sun and will be ready to share updates with you on them.

    1. Hi RoDarrick

      It is always surprising to know what annuals can be grown in containers especially if you live in a sunny spot. These beauties should cover a wide range of tastes.  Keep me posted.

      Kind regard


  2. I have never tried to grow plants in containers and even not taught of it before. Staying in town where we don’t have enough land to plant, then I think your method will work so fine for us. And I will let my friends to know about your site via my whatsApp group to get this important information. I am very sure they will be happy to start growing plants in containers.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Divican

      Thank you for those kind words. Container gardening is about growing where no permanent garden exists, so you have to adapt your growing conditions to the container itself.  You can grow a lot in containers.

      Kind Regards


  3. So many beautiful options. I’m looking for flowers to plant in my containers on the door step. This gave me such color inspiration. I have been thinking about violets. But I haven’t been able to find some that are annuals. And I want to be able to change the containers according to season. Do you know if there are any violets that are annuals? Or do they just come as perennials?

    1. Hi miss momo

      Annnuals are some of the more showier plants in the garden, as they bring so much colour to the gardens. Violets are all perennials but most are treated as annuals anyway, as they are discarded at the end of the growing season. So I would buy normal violets and use them when required and then discard.



  4. I find your article useful for me as I’d like to have nice flowers on my balcony. Would it be a good idea to have some of these plants as a mixture if I want to have many colours? I’m thinking about the combination of Baby Blue Eyes, Petunias and Zinnia. It’s very good that you say that ’ No matter where you live there is an annual for you.’ because even those can enjoy the wonderful plants who have no backyard but only a balcony like me. Do you think these plants need much care to look wonderful?

    1. Hi Agnes

      Who does not like nice flowers on their balcony, and yes, a lot of these annuals can be mixed in a single container, as long as a big enough container is used. Annuals only need regular watering and feeding with a liquid fertilizer once every week to encourage blooming for the rest of the growing season. Deadheading will encourage more blooms too.

      Thank you


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