Thinking Outside the Flower Box: 10 Ways to Use Annuals

It’s a great time in Abbotsford: everything is starting to bloom, and we know you’ve been busy wrapping up your spring cleaning and planning your spring and summer garden! We also know that annuals are a big part of those garden designs, and you might be wondering just how you can maximize their beauty all season. Here are ten cool ways to enjoy annual flowers all summer and how to make them look their best!  

1. Hanging baskets: Always a bestseller in the spring and summer months, hanging baskets create dramatic visual displays of vibrant cascading flowers. Perfect for patios, front porches, and even for giving to friends and family as gifts—hanging baskets are completely versatile and should be on your list this year. Check out our home-grown moss hanging baskets in-store today!

2. Containers/flower boxes: One of our favourite ways to enjoy annual flowers is with container planting or flower boxes. The best part about planting flower boxes or using pots is that you can move them around anywhere in your outdoor space and change up displays and colour groups on a whim. Using the ‘thriller, spiller, and filler’ method, you can design some pretty amazing celebrations of annual flowers anywhere you want! Some flowers perform better in containers than others, but with the right watering and care, you’ll get beautiful blooms all season. What annuals do best in containers? Our favourite flower box picks include canna, impatiens, coleus, petunias, geraniums, verbena, and begonias.

3. Window boxes: Much like your other containers and flower boxes, window boxes are perfect for adding little splashes of colour around your house. Choose annual flowers that spill over the sides for a country charm, and bright-coloured blooms that attract pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds. There’s nothing better than watching these little gems grow right outside your window!

4. Filling space in borders: You might have garden beds with stunning shrubs and perennial favourites that aren’t yet in bloom. Many gardeners use annual flowers to fill in spaces to keep interest going all year long. Because annual flowers grow fast, this is an excellent strategy to keep garden borders looking full until your other favourites are ready to take over the show. Some annual flowers—like dahlias, fuchsia, lantana, and geraniums—can be overwintered and brought back outdoors for replanting next spring. 

5. Groundcover: Another great way to use these plants—try planting some low-growing annuals for a quick burst of colourful blooms and foliage. Annuals like creeping thyme, moss rose, sweet potato vines, English ivy, and sedum are great at growing quickly and spreading out beautifully!

6. Cut flower garden: Many gardeners have discovered the joys of growing a cut flower garden, and we think you should too! Keeping a section of your garden designated for tall growing flowers that you can pick for indoor floral arrangements, gifts, weddings, and parties is a great way to enjoy annual flowers in exciting and rewarding ways. The most popular cut flower annuals include dahlias, zinnias, snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, celosia, salvias, lantana, and sunflowers. 

7. Wildflower garden: Growing wildflowers is becoming an increasingly popular trend among gardeners who are giving up their perfectly manicured lawns in favour of a more eco-friendly pollinator paradise. Clear a space in a garden bed, or designate some flower boxes just for wildflowers to help attract some beneficial local pollinators!

8. Attracting pollinators: Speaking of local pollinators, an obvious reason to plant an abundance of annual flowers is to attract them to your garden. Whether planting in borders, flower boxes, patio containers, or window boxes—bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies will flock to find a variety of nutrient-filled flowers to keep them moving. Alongside some potent perennials, some of our favourite annuals for pollinators in Abbotsford include borage, fuchsia, salvia, snapdragons, cleome, marigold, and cornflowers. 

9. Food! You might not be thinking about food when you think of annual flowering plants, but many of your favourite crops are annuals, too! If you’re planning your garden with some flower boxes, containers, and raised beds, why not include some edible plants to grow alongside your flowers? Companion planting is a great way to attract pollinators, grow better food, keep pests away, and improve soil quality. Grow tomatoes, corn, lettuce, and beans alongside your annual flowers.

10. Fragrance: Planting annual flowers in flower boxes and containers near your house is a great way to enjoy the unmatched fragrance of summer blooms and seduce local pollinators to come and enjoy the feast! Many gardeners choose annual flowers, particularly for their pleasing scent, and top choices include moonflower, petunia, heliotrope, scented stock, and sweet alyssum. 

Now that you’re ready to tackle those flower box annuals in Abbotsford, swing by the greenhouse to stock up on your favourites today. We know you can do great things in your garden this year, and we can’t wait to see how you use your annuals—happy planting!