You can’t go wrong with pansies (Viola) to brighten your early-spring and late fall plantings. These cheerful flowers are loved for their bold color, durability, and tolerance of frosty temperatures. They’re some of the first blooms you can plant to celebrate the start of the season. And, if you’re in a cold-winter climate, some of the last fall flowers you can enjoy before the snow flies. And if you’re in a mild-winter area, you can enjoy pansies all winter long.
Pansies bloom in almost every color from white to deep purple black. It's easy to use these cool-season flowers to fit your favorite look. Many varieties bear blotches (dark markings that add depth and interest to the blossoms). While most pansies grow in tidy little mounds, some new types trail in pots, planters or baskets. Or use them as groundcovers when planted in the garden. Many pansies are fragrant, too.
2. Sweet Alyssum
Sweet alyssum (Lobularia) is one of our must-have annual varieties because it’s so versatile. It looks good with any other plant you want to show it off with. Once it bursts into bloom, sweet alyssum transforms itself into a low-growing carpet of color. There are so many white, lavender, purple, or pink blooms that you can’t see the foliage. A beautiful accent plant, sweet alyssum is also delightfully fragrant.
It’s often used as an edging plant or in the front of the border. But, this cool-weather annual flower also thrives in planters, and often used as a “spiller” element in container garden designs. Sweet alyssum is elegant when displayed by itself in a low bowl-type pot as a centerpiece on a patio table. It’s exceptionally easy to grow in a sunny spot. To keep the show going, look for newer varieties such as White Knight or Silver Stream that have been bred with improved heat-tolerance.
Every garden should have at least a few snapdragons (Antirrhinum). These annual flowers have become tried-and-true classics because they’re wonderfully easy to grow. Snapdragons thrive in practically any sunny spot. They don’t mind cool temperatures and continue to bloom all summer long in mo