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Jacquelyn Cottam
February 03, 2021

10 Stunning Summer Annuals

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Colourful flowers surrounding a warm-weather picnic is what summer is all about! There’s nothing quite like a summer garden full of vibrant blooms. Commonly planted in spring, annuals tend to grow quickly and flower all season long before eventually perishing as the air cools for autumn. If you missed spring but would still like to enjoy annuals, purchase some already-blooming plants from your local nursery to enjoy the last of their beauty. New Zealand’s summer conditions result in bold, bright flowers that can withstand a dose of heat. Whether you’re just starting out with gardening or are looking for new inspiration to add to an existing garden, here’s a list of 10 statement summer annuals that will thrive in a Kiwi environment.

 

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1. Love in the mist

This plant thrives in the same dry, sunny conditions as roses, making it their ideal companion plant. A must-have in any style of summer garden, this reliable and classic annual blooms in hues of blue, white, and purple. A rare treat is its fine, feathery leaves. Its stems are a welcome addition to florist bouquets and home-cut vase displays. Colour, texture, contrast, and an attention-grabbing presence – this plant has it all!

 

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2. Statice


A timeless classic, statice is an extremely popular summer plant among Kiwi gardeners. It serves as a vibrant pop of colour while being uniquely suited to drying for bouquets and home décor. A great one to grow in advance of winter crafting projects! Easy to grow, the plant will flourish in the garden as well as a pot. Have your secateurs handy because this pretty number thrives with frequent pruning. There are plenty of colours available, so take the time to get creative and plan your display’s colour design before planting.

 

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3. Sweet Pea

This plant grows dainty, elegant flowers and is a consistently popular summer annual among experienced gardeners. Right at home in a cottage garden, a sweet pea plant will do equally well in a vegetable garden or growing up a garden trellis, provided it’s protected from strong winds. It loves frequent hydration and grows well in the garden or a pot. A confident climber, a sweet pea will wind its slim tendrils across 2 metres of trellis, shrubs, or even small trees in the garden! It’s often grown as edible food decoration and for cuttings that look lovely in a vase.

 

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4. Petunia 

A favourite annual, a petunia plant will adore basking in summer heat provided it’s watered. Well-draining, moist soil and regular deadheading will keep your petunia in tip-top shape. Once established, this stunning flower requires little maintenance, which is great if you spend your summers adventuring and have limited time for gardening. Plant it in a sunny spot and make an effort to avoid the easily damaged flowers when watering, focusing instead on hydrating the plant.

 

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5. Sunflower   

This plant epitomises summer – bold, bright, yellow, and sun-loving. A sunflower is a sensational choice for brightening up your garden or balcony. And all it asks for in return is plenty of organic matter in the soil and regular watering. A lot like sunbathers on the beach, a sunflower will rotate its head to follow the sun throughout the day. This ensures maximum exposure for this fast grower, so make sure there’s nothing in its way. Once in full bloom, its brightness will be contagious and bring a smile to any face!

 

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6. China Aster 

A textural stunner, China aster is a prolific bloomer with an invigorating scent. Its deep green foliage provides a lush background for the main event – its flower head. A myriad of petals build upon one another until a pompom is created, balancing on the end of a long stem. It is a feast for the eyes! This plant works wonderfully as a cut flower in a bouquet or as a vibrant and attractive gap-filler in the garden. With a spectrum of colours available, don’t go past this showstopper when planning your summer floral display.

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7. Phlox

A fussy one, Phlox grows best in a sunny spot with good airflow while avoiding the midday sun. A handy trick is to plant it close to taller plants like beans or sunflowers to shelter it from the hot midday sun. A fragrant, colourful cottage favourite, Phlox is widely considered a must-have. This plant varies greatly in size from ankle-grazing varieties to waist-height border plants. Bright and cheerful, it will brighten your life and that of the pests and pollinators in your garden.

 

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8. Alyssum

Pretty, hardy, compact, dainty – the list of alyssum’s merits go on and on. This plant is happy to be planted in full sun and if started from seed, it will flourish in a matter of weeks. Popular as low-lying ground cover, garden edging, cottage-style gardens, and rockeries, alyssum is renowned for its ability to spread easily via seeding. Avoid overwatering your plant but be sure to hydrate it once or twice per week during dry periods

 

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9. Cosmos

If you love a splash of ‘pretty’ in a summer garden, this plant is for you. Dainty, colourful, and classic in shape, Cosmos is a popular summer annual choice. A sunny site with good drainage is a must to keep the blooms looking their best. A profuse flowerer, your plant will require persistent deadheading to maintain a healthy plant and keep the flowers coming. A companion plant for dill, Cosmos suits a vegetable garden setting as it attracts bees and other pollinators.

 

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10. Impatiens (Busy Lizzies) 

For the cooler summer areas in NZ, we recommend Busy Lizzies. This plant is known to spread its seeds across a wide area – firing out seed pods explosively! A busy bloomer, this flower will not rest throughout summer with a colour wheel ranging from stark white through blushing pink to deep magenta. Caring for such a relentlessly flowering plant could not be easier. Simply combine moderate sunshine with a couple of waters per week. For a low-growing carpet bursting with colour, plant some Busy Lizzies known to self-sow and watch them go!

Armed with this knowledge of summer annuals ideally suited to your NZ garden, your future summers are sure to be vibrant! Whether they’re planted in the garden, potted on a balcony, or cut for vase arrangements, these mood-boosters can be enjoyed at every stage of summer.

 

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