Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Annual Flower Combos

Here are some combinations of annuals that bloomed together for me (in zone 5a). All were grown from seed, usually sown directly in the garden. It's an easy way to get fast color into your garden!

Larkspur - Zinnia - Bachelor's Button

This is larkspur, bachelor's button, and zinnia 'Benary's Giant Salmon'. The larkspur starts blooming first, soon joined by the bachelor's buttons. The larkspur is past its prime here, but if deadheaded it will keep going long enough to overlap with the zinnias. The zinnias will keep coming until frost.

Poppy - Chrysanthemum
 Those big fluffy salmon balls are the annual opium poppy 'Venus'. The flowers don't last long, but they are pretty cool looking while they last! Blooming here with the annual chrysanthemum 'Primrose Gem' (it grows from seed and blooms in one season), and a bit of larkspur.

Nigella - Euphorbia
 This is probably my favorite combination of all - annual Euphorbia marginata (snow on the mountain) with Nigella 'Miss Jekyll'. The texture contrast of the foliage is outstanding. Such cool, refreshing colors for summer. Both plants have long lasting foliage in the garden, and come back themselves every year through reseeding. If you cut the stems of the euphorbia, it produces a very toxic white milky sap, so beware (I just avoided cutting mine).

California Poppy - Salvia
 I loved using the spiky annual Salvia viridis 'Blue Denim' in the garden. Such a great habit and color. The flowers are very long lasting. The foliage tends to brown towards the end, but it doesn't look awful - kind of interesting in a dried-up sort of way. Here it is growing with Eschscholzia californica (California poppy) 'Purple Gleam'. You can see a bloom of Papaver somniferum 'Imperial Pink' in the back.

Larkspur - Shirley Poppy - Nigella
 Larkspur and Shirley Poppies are a great classic combo. The substantive purple spikes of larkspur make such a great contrast with the papery rounds of poppies. Here Nigella adds a feathery touch at the bottom.

Larkspur - Calendula
 For a bolder effect, larkspur combines well with calendula. (Can you tell that I like larkspur?)

Marigold - Cabbage
OK, so this is not technically an annual flower combo! But I love marigolds with brassicas... This is Marigold 'Safari Red' with brussels sprouts.

Alan Armitage's book on annuals is wonderful! I love all of his books.


  1. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. I am a 'foliage guy.' That Euphorbia marginata is really cool. I gotta find some for my garden. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Mario - I love that euphorbia too. It's called "Snow-on-the-mountain" and it shouldn't be hard to find seeds. It grows like a weed! (but a beautiful one)

  2. These are beautiful combinations. Like you, I think my favourite is the Euphorbia/Nigella one, although those dark blue Larkspurs with the Calendulas com close.

    1. Thanks Lyn! The great thing about annuals is that you can really experiment with different combinations, and try new things each year. The stakes are not as high as with perennials.

  3. Hi Rebecca,
    I'm enjoying seeing your gardens. Larkspur, bachelor buttons and nigella are some of my favorites, too. I have trouble getting more than a few nigellas each year, but have plenty of the other two. I got some larkspur established in the front yard now, so plan on letting fewer of the volunteers in the veggie garden grow.

    1. Thanks for stopping by again Sue! You must be a lover of blue flowers just like me. The larkspur and nigella self-seed like crazy for me - actually I have to thin them out ruthlessly or they will be too crowded. The bachelor's buttons never really reseed for me but I do like that blue color!

  4. I just moved from the SF Bay Area in California (zone 9a) to Mid Missouri (zone 5b/6a). I love Venus Poppies, but I'm wondering how easy they self-seed, and if they are a good cut flower. I'm so glad to hear that larkspur and nigella self-seed in zone 5, because they are two of my favorite flowers (peonies, ranunculus, and zinnias also being in the list). Have you had problems with the nigella turning white? I heard the blue color is a recessive trait, and after a few seasons of self-pollinating and self-seeding, the blue color fades out of the "gene pool".

    1. Hi Amanda, My Venus poppies did not return for me at all. They make a decent cut flower although they do not last long at all (in the garden or the vase). They are a fleeting beauty, but so impressive while in bloom!

      The nigella and larkspur self-seeded reliably - I had to weed out like 80% of them, actually. I didn't notice the nigella becoming white over the years, but if you notice any white ones you could just pull them out right away, so you don't let them go to seed. The larkspur did evolve in color over the years though - more and more blue ones, and fewer of the pretty dark pinks. Have fun experimenting!


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