Top Picks for Cool Season Annuals - Flowers for Spring and Fall

Cool weather can be hard to garden in, because you never know how long it will last. But there are many garden flowers that prefer the cool days of spring and fall. Often gardeners think only of perennials for a sequence of bloom. Many cool season annuals look wonderful in containers and growing these flowers will make your gardening season seem that much longer. If you live in a warm climate, some of these flowers will be perennial for you, and will bloom from fall through spring.

  • 01 of 10

    Bachelor's Buttons, Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

    Bachelor Buttons
    © Marie iannotti

    You won't often find Bachelor's Buttons at the nursery, but they grow very easily be direct sown in the garden and will reseed freely. A cottage garden plant, Bachelor's Buttons give their best display in cool seasons, so if you started some in the spring, watch as they perk up again this fall. (if you like seeding flowers in the garden, here are more easy annuals to grow from seed.)

  • 02 of 10
    Pot Marigold (Calendula)
    © Marie iannotti

    Calendula, or pot marigolds, look like fall flowers, with their rich golden and rust colors, and they do best later in the season. They might even withstand a light frost, if they're established. Many calendula will self-seed and treat you to a spring bloom as well. Calendula is an edible flower and is popular for planting in an herb or vegetable garden. (More great flowers for the vegetable garden.)

  • 03 of 10
    Diascia 'Diamonte Coral Rose'
    Diascia 'Diamonte Coral Rose'. All America Selections

    Diascia, though relatively new in gardens, became popular quickly. The tiny, profuse trailing blossoms make it perfect for containers. Diascia is generally grown from cuttings, which can make it an expensive annual to purchase. But you may be able to over winter yours indoors or take your own cuttings. Diascia are perennial, with a good winter, in USDA Zone 8 or higher.

  • 04 of 10

    Larkspur

    Pink Larkspur
    Gary J Weathers / Getty Images

    Where summers are too extreme to grow delphiniums, larkspur makes an eminently acceptable substitute. If you start your larkspur off in the spring and keep it deadheaded throughout the summer, a little extra food should revive it for the fall show. These make excellent cut flowers.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Lobelia

    Blue Lobelia
    Blue Lobelia. Photo: © Marie Iannotti

    Lobelia will shutdown during the summer, but given cool temperatures, it will bloom with profusion. If you planted yours in the spring, once the flowers start to slow down, cut it back by half and allow it to regrow and rebloom.

  • 06 of 10
    Nasturtium Flowers
    Laura Buttafoco / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Nasturtiums will bloom throughout summer and well into fall. They are rejuvenated by the cooler air. Even their crisp fall colors advertise that they belong in the fall garden. Nasturtiums don't transplant well and you may be better off direct seeding. Keep them well watered in the heat of summer. They have large seed pods that are easy to collect and save, to replant next season.

  • 07 of 10

    Nierembergia

    Nierembergia 'Mont Blanc'
    Nierembergia 'Mont Blanc'. All America Selections. Used with Permission.
    Nierembergia 'Mont Blanc' rescued nierembergia from obsolescence Nierembergia is hardy to USDA Zone 7 and can even be over wintered indoors, but you might not bother because it is fairly easy to grow from seed. 'Mont Blanc' won the All America Selection award, but the blue flowered varieties are getting the attention now.
  • 08 of 10
    Purple Wave Petunia
    Purple Wave Petunia. Ron Evans / Getty Images

    Gardeners think of petunias as a bedding mainstay. Petunias actually do their best blooming in cool temperatures and there are so many to choose from. The Wave series has become especially popular and if you, like me, don't like deadheading, Wave petunias are for you. The tiny calibrachoa petunia makes a nice textural accent in containers. Here's some help in choosing the best petunia for your needs.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Snapdragon Flowers
    Snapdragon Flowers. © Marie Iannotti
    Snapdragons offer you color and a bit of height, depending on the variety. There are also new trailing snapdragons that work wonderfully in containers. Look for the Luminaire series. Snapdragons are hardy at least to USDA Zone 8. With some protection, they may also survive in Zone 7.
  • 10 of 10
    PanAmerican Viola 'Sorbet Primrose Baby Face'
    PanAmerican Viola 'Sorbet Primrose Baby Face'. Photo Courtesy of the National Garden Bureau - www.ngb.org

    You may still have some pansies from last spring, languishing in your garden beds. Look around and see if they are perking up for fall. Violas and pansies will bloom for weeks. Deadheading will keep them setting new buds. Look for some of the newer varieties that can handle a slight freeze.