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Fast-growing annual flowers are a simple yet effective way to brighten your garden. They give rapid results with minimal effort. Most annual plants will grow from seed to maturity in just a couple of months, giving an abundance of colorful flowers all summer.

Annual plants have a short life cycle and produce flowers in the same year the seeds are sown. Their rapid growth rate enables them to reach peak flower production during the warmest months—perfect for gardeners who want quick results!

Give your garden and outdoor areas a burst of color with these 16 vibrant, fast-growing annual flowers!

1. Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella Damascene)

love in the mist
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Love-in-a-Mist produces a mound of delicate foliage topped with exquisite mist-like blue flowers, hence its whimsical name. This low-maintenance plant’s floral display peaks in late spring and early summer, earlier than that of many other annual plants.

This frost-sensitive annual grows well in zones 2-11 in full sun or partial shade. Plant in well-drained soil and water well until established.

2. Cosmos (Cosmos Bipinnatus)

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Famed for its colorful daisy-like flowers atop mounds of bushy fern-like foliage, Cosmos will add color to your garden from early summer right into fall. The flowers come in a range of colors, including pink, white, red, orange, and purple.

Plant Cosmos in a sunny location in well-drained soil, and water well until established. This drought-tolerant plant will thrive in zones 2-11 but loves hot climates.

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3. California Poppy (Eschscholzia Californica)

orange poppies
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California Poppy boasts large orange flowers that add a vibrant splash of color to your garden. The blue-green foliage creates an interesting contrast with other flowering plants, and it will self-seed easily year after year.

Grow California Poppies in full sun in well-drained soil. When established, this plant tolerates drought well and thrives in zones 6-11.

4. Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus)

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How many of us grew Sunflowers as kids and then forgot all about them? The humble Sunflower comes in a huge range of varieties, from the classic giant yellow-headed original to shorter plants that produce multiple deep orange flowers.

These delicate plants are best sown directly into fertile soil as they don’t transplant well. Pick a spot in full sun and water regularly, especially during dry periods. Sunflowers can be grown as annual plants in zones 2-11.

5. Marigold (Tagetes Spp.)

marigold plant
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A kitchen garden classic, Marigolds produce a colorful array of yellow, orange, and red flowers throughout the warmer months. They have a bushy growth habit and are often used in vegetable plots to attract beneficial insects.

Marigold plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil and will thrive in zones 2-11. They require regular watering until well-established but can then tolerate hot, dry conditions.

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6. Rocket Larkspur (Consolida Ajacis)

Larkspur flowers, Delphinium elatum
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Also known as Wild Delphinium, Rocket Larkspur produces tall spikes of flowers in shades of blue, white, pink, and purple through summer. The soft fern-like foliage adds delicate texture to your ornamental borders.

Rocket Larkspur grows best in full sun or partial shade in zones 2-11. It prefers moist soil and may need staking to support the tall flower spikes.

7. Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus)

Cornflower Centaurea cyanus
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Cornflowers are one of the best-known traditional cottage garden plants, producing delicate pastel-colored flowers on tall stems. The slender leaves form a bushy plant, creating excellent ground cover in flower gardens.

Plant Cornflowers in full sun in well-drained soil in zones 2-11. They tolerate drought and poor soil well, making them ideal for neglected areas of the garden.

8. Sweet Pea (Lathyrus Ooratus)

The flowers have five petals and a yellow center. The petals are round at the base and become pointed towards the tips.
Image credit: Hilola Jurakulova, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Peas climb and vine their way upwards throughout the summer months, producing fragrant flowers in shades of pink, purple, and red. This fast-growing annual is ideal for growing up a trellis or fence and will flower for several months if dead-headed regularly.

Sow Sweet Pea seeds directly into fertile soil in a well-draining, sunny spot. This fast-growing annual flower grows well in zones 2-11.

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9. Drummond Phlox (Phlox Drummondii)

In the garden in the summer bloomed many pink flowers Phlox .Texture or background
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Drummond Phlox produces clusters of 1-inch flowers in shades of white, pink, or red with a contrasting center eye. This low-growing plant is ideal for the edges of flower borders, where taller plants won’t crowd it.

Grown as an annual in zones 2-11, Drummond Phlox prefers full sun and well-drained soil. When established, it tolerates drought well and will attract beneficial pollinating insects to your garden.

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10. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia Maritime)

A cluster of white sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima). The flowers are small and have four petals. The leaves are small and green, and they are visible around the base of the flowers.
Image credit: Hectonichus, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Sweet Alyssum is a low-growing plant that produces a carpet of tiny flowers in white, pink, and purple shades. Its strong fragrance attracts insect life that can help keep garden pests at bay.

Sow Sweet Alyssum in well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. It tolerates poor soil and drought well and can be grown in zones 5-11.

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11. Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena Globose)

Globe Amaranth
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The globe-shaped flower heads of Globe Amaranth produce a pompom-like carpet of blooms in vibrant shades of pink, purple, and red. This fast-growing annual will thrive in containers and ornamental gardens with very little maintenance.

Globe Amaranth should be grown in full sun in well-drained soil. Grown as an annual in zones 2-11, this rapidly growing plant can tolerate drought and will attract clouds of butterflies to your garden.

12. Petunia (Petunia × hybrida)

Depositphotos 371261538 L Petunia e1712048003512
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Petunias produce an abundance of trumpet-shaped flowers in various colors, including purple, pink, white, and red. Their compact growth habit makes them a good choice for containers, hanging baskets, and rock gardens. If deadheaded regularly, they will bloom throughout the summer.

Plant petunias in well-draining soil in a sunny location. Petunias are grown as annuals in zones 2-8, but in zones 9-11, they can be overwintered as perennials if protected from frost.

13. Snapdragon (Antirrhinum Majus)

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Unlike most fast-growing annuals, Snapdragons produce most of their flowers in the cooler months of spring and fall. The tall spikes of tubular flowers come in a range of colors, adding height and interest to your ornamental flower garden.

Snapdragons prefer full sun or partial shade and should be planted in fertile, well-draining soil and watered regularly. They grow best in zones 4-11 but do not tolerate long periods of drought.

14. Common Zinnia (Zinnia Elegans)

Common Zinnias
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If you want to add a splash of rainbow-like color to your garden, Zinnias are a great choice. These bushy plants produce large, colorful flowers in shades of pink, red, orange, yellow, and white from early summer right into fall.

Zinnias prefer full sun and well-drained soil and are grown as an annual in zones 2-11. Water frequently until well established and deadhead regularly to encourage continuous flowering.

15. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus)

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Nasturtium is a trailing plant that produces mounds of bright green leaves and an array of flowers in shades of orange, yellow, and red. Its sprawling growth habit makes it great for quickly covering bare soil, but it can crowd out smaller plants.

Plant Nasturtiums in full sun or partial shade in zones 2-11. They tolerate drought and poor soil, making them perfect for rock gardens and hanging baskets.

16. Morning Glory

morning glory
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Morning Glory is a fast-growing vine known for its large, trumpet-shaped blue flowers that open in the morning and close by the afternoon.

Morning Glory prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is typically grown as an annual but can be perennial in warmer climates (USDA zones 9-11). Morning Glory needs regular watering and a climbing structure, such as a trellis or fence.

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Tall red flowers of Monard bee balm in the summer garden
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cinnamon on houseplant
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A Close up view of a white round plate with bananna peals piled into it on the green grass
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