In keeping with the theme of this blog, I’d like to introduce you to 12 different types of annuals.
What are Annuals?
Annuals, also known as hardy plants or bedding plants, are an important part of any garden. They come in a wide variety of colors and shapes, from tall and upright to short and trailing. The flowers can be single-colored or multicolored; the leaves can be green or variegated with shades of red, yellow, cream, brown and white.
Annuals are planted once a year, bloom for the season, then die before winter. This means they have to be started every year from seeds or young plants.
The following list includes a variety of annuals found around the world:
12 types of Annuals
Annual flower (Zinnia)
An annual flower, sometimes called a greenhouse flower, is used for ornamental purposes and must be grown in greenhouses throughout the year. These plants are typically propagated by cuttings or from seed.
They do not require vernalization, but they usually have a prolonged juvenile period. Perennial plants can be grown from seed in containers and then overwintered under glass before transplanting them to the open ground in spring.
Amaranthus ( Amaranthaceae)
Amaranthaceae are a large family of flowering plants. The most well known member is the Love Grass, or ‘ Quelfgrass’ which makes up much of the lawns on earth. While some such as this commonly found perennial and ornamental grass have clearly been to space stations before, others are rarer. This time we’ll be looking at one of the rarer ones, Amaranthus caudatus.
Amaranthus caudatus is a small space flowering plant that produces large cup flowers which it uses to attract pollinators in low light conditions such as those on earth. The effect these plants produce when growing together can be marvellous but, sadly, they do not tend to make good terrestrial plants, as they need constant sunlight.
This species is very rare on earth and even more so in space stations where there is much less direct sunlight. However, while it may seem that this plant grows only within the biomes of greenhouses and hydroponic basins on space station NSS Archangel , the desert-like conditions of this planet have allowed this plant to grow without artificial aid.
Annual herbs are a group of herbaceous plants that live for only one Season. Annuals sprout from seed and flower within one growing season, then die at the end of the season. They are often grown as annuals by gardeners because they are quick to grow, easy to propagate and give an instant effect.
Annuals can be divided into herbaceous and shrub-like plants. Herbs are recommended for growing indoors, where they require less care than their shrub-like counterparts. Many very popular perennial herbs like basil, oregano and mint actually grow as annuals in cooler climates!
Beach annuals ( Amaranthaceae )
Beach annuals come from the Crassulaceae family. They look like smallish, round shrubs with thick leaves that have a waxy coating to protect their cells from drying out in the sun and wind. Their foliage tends to be strappy or somewhat fleshy.
The flowers of beach annuals are almost always white, although pink and yellow ones can sometimes be found. Beach annuals bloom very early in the spring, just as the weather warms, either before or after the beach pea that comes up there every year.
Alyssum is one of the most common beach annuals on Long Island because it blooms so early (usually March through May). Its tiny flowers are white or pink. Small and low-growing, it can be found in rock gardens in yards and along the side of roads. It grows well in poor sandy soil.
Climbing plant ( Stirngiaceae )
A climbing plant is a type of annual which can be trained to climb on other objects like trees, walls and fences. In space stations though, these plants are not used for decoration like on earth but rather to create living air filters. When activated by water some of the plants change their shape, allowing air through while filtering out harmful substances such as dust and microbes.
These plants were first brought into space by humanity when it became clear that they could be effective at cleaning up the unwanted particles found on early space stations. However, their unique appearance and ability to change shape makes them a useful decorative plant in many places.
Balsam ( Helianthus )
A balsam is a plant that originated on earth and has been transported to space stations since about the 1950s. This annual herb was named after the resinous material it produces within its stem. Over time this can be used to produce perfume which can be made with a number of different plants.
Balsam flowers are relatively unremarkable, being small and yellow. This plant is at its most effective when planted in groups or masses. It can grow to between 1-3m tall, but will generally not exceed 2 meters due to the lack of sunlight and low gravity on space stations.
Blazing star ( Liatris )
A blazing star is an aster family plant which, true to form, produces its flowers in a ‘star shaped’ arrangement. There are about 600 species of this plant on earth with the majority being found in North America. This flower gets its name from the flame-like appearance of the flowers which generally bloom for around 8 weeks in late summer.
The flowers are produced in an inflorescence which is similar to those of other asters, being made up of small individual five-lobed flowers with long protruding stamens. The flower petals also have these protrusions but they are so small that they serve little purpose beyond decorative purposes – although this does not make them any less wonderful to the human eye.
Bluebonnets are one of the most well known types of blazing star. These plants belong to the genus Lupinus and are named after a European blue limestone, which is where they get their common name from. On earth these flowers are part of the lupin family and can grow to be quite large, up to 60cm tall.
Bluebonnets are native to America and can be found in most states. They grow best on dry sandy soil and have a preference for full sun, which is why they are so common along roadsides where there is little shade.
The flowers of Bluebonnets look like tight buds when they first appear in spring, then they slowly open to reveal a star-shaped burst of vibrant blue flowers. Both the leaves and stems secrete a milky sap which is poisonous if eaten.
Blazing star petals are almost always blue although white and pinkish variants do exist. The flowers usually have yellow stamens but can occasionally have pink stamens depending on the specific species.
California poppy ( Eschscholzia )
The California poppy is a night blooming annual plant and relative of the mallow plant. It is native to Central America with white or yellow flowers and looks like a tiny seedy mallow that has been cut in half at its stem.
The flower’s scientific name, Eschscholzia , honors Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, a 19th century German naturalist and physician who first documented the plant.
The flowers of the California poppy are often confused with those of the opium poppy, however the petals form a normal shape and are not at all serrated.
Chinese lantern ( Physalis Alkekengi)
Chinese lanterns are one of the most treasured annual flowers. They produce 4-8 inch trumpet shaped orange or red blossoms, and remain in bloom for about two months each year. They are also known as summer hyacinths because of their unique shape and appearance.
Chinese lantern plants have a tendency to grow quickly once they take hold and can reach heights of 6-8 feet. They have a complicated life cycle, beginning as an egg shaped bulb and turning into a tufted basal rosette before developing the shoots that produce flowers.
Coral bells (aka bluebell)
Coral bells are also part of the same family as Chinese lanterns, called the Solanaceae. It is a bell-shaped flower that reaches a height of between 30 – 100 cm and comes in shades of purple and white. The name coral bells comes from the flower’s resemblance to tiny upside down bells which dangle from a stalk. These plants prefer moist and shaded environments.
Coral bells are found in Europe, Asia, North Africa as well as America but they are most abundant along the moist northern regions of the United States. The plant has very distinctive leaves that are almost never seen except when they are in bloom. The leaves grow on the base of a bulb which is attached to a small rhizome, or underground stem.
Coral bells produce flowers that hang upside down from the top of their stems and then open up into a bell shaped flower. They have long thin petals which range in color from light pink to deep purple. The flowers are quite fragile and close during the nightfall.
Dahlias (aka stalks of balls)
Dahlias are one of the most popular annual flowers and are extremely common in gardens and fields. Dahlias belong to the Asteraceae family, which includes daisies, sunflowers, coneflowers and chrysanthemums as well as a few other species. There are more than 60 different types of dahlia that can be found in different parts of the world, but its scientific name is Dahlia pinnata .
Dahlias are considered to be native to Mexico where they were first cultivated by the Aztecs. The plant’s name comes from Swedish botanist Carl von Dahl who first recorded it in 1789.
Although there are many types of dahlia, all fall into two categories: decorative and tuberous. Decorative varieties produce three to four petaled flowers that can be white, yellow or red. Tuberous dahlias are more common in the United States since they are much easier to grow and maintain. They have a short single stem which produces tubers which resemble ball shaped stalks.
Dahlias have a very complex life cycle that involves three different stages: the cotyledon (seed leaf), the rosette (a cluster of small leaves) and finally into the flowering stage. The plants grow from tubers which are best harvested in their second year of growth, but they can be harvested in the first year if they grow under ideal conditions.
Carnation (aka Dianthus)
Carnations are a typical “spring flower” that come in multiple colors and patterns. They are known for their sophisticated appearance, since they are often used as decorations at weddings or other parties. Carnations have been around for centuries and were first cultivated by the ancient Greeks over 2,000 years ago. They are part of the Dianthus genus and have hundreds of different species all over the world.
The first carnations were discovered in China, and it was commonly used in decorating offerings to gods. Carnation plants began to spread around the world during the 17th century when they were brought from Turkey and France. They quickly became popular among the upper class as a status symbol and for the beauty of their unique flowers.
Carnation plants originated from Dianthus caryophyllus , which is native to southern Europe. Carnations are not related to the pinks or roses but rather have a close resemblance to D. deltoides which is an evergreen winter hardy perennial which is native to eastern Asia and Europe.
Carnations are considered to be annuals but can also grow as perennials depending on the type of variety that you plant. They are not very picky when it comes to planting since they have small root bulbs that only need a little bit of water and food in order to survive.
The plants themselves grow around 1 to 2 feet tall and come in a variety of colors, but the most popular color is red. Carnations are considered to be one of the easiest flowers to grow since they require little attention and can often survive with no extra sun or water.
There are many different types of annuals that can grow all around the world, but they share a few similarities. Generally speaking, each plant has its own unique appearance and is determined by region or country. Many countries have their own variety of flower that grows natively in the environment around them.