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Choosing Annual Flowers for Masses and Drifts of Color

Updated on April 30, 2013
Snapdragons can be used for big, bold color statements in the garden.
Snapdragons can be used for big, bold color statements in the garden. | Source

Annual Flowers to Make a Huge Statement

The Victorians called it carpet bedding - planting huge masses of the same annual flowers such as begonias in gigantic flowers beds. These masses and drifts of annual flowers create a big swathe of color in the landscape and are great for areas where you need a lot of flowers but you don't want to fuss with trying to plant an intricate garden. You can change the area yearly, since annual flowers live their entire life cycle in one season and are generally killed by a heavy frost. Most annual flowers are very inexpensive, making it an easy way to add instant color to your home or landscape.

Annual Flowers for Sun to Create Masses and Drifts

Sunny spots offer gardeners many choices. If you have a hot, sunny location and want to plant gigantic masses and drifts of pretty, colorful flowers, choose from among the following:

  • Celosia
  • Dahlia (dwarf)
  • Dainthus
  • Gebrea daisy
  • Heilotrope
  • Lantana (attracts butterflies, too)
  • Marigold
  • Nicotiana
  • Petunia
  • Phlox drummondi
  • Salvia splendens
  • Sabiosa

You can either purchase flats of these annual flowers at the garden center or start them from seeds. Among the flowers on the list above, marigolds are especially easy to grow from seed. I've had great luck scatter-sowing saved marigold seeds in areas where I want to create big masses and drifts of color.


Annual Flowers for Shade to Create Carpet Beds

Carpet bedding plants for shady areas include numerous annual flowers you're probably already very familiar with, flowers that make their appearance regularly on garden center shelves. These are flowers that love the shade and thrive in shady areas.

Choose from among the following annual flowers for shade to create big masses and drifts of color or for your Victorian-inspired carpet bedding planting schemes:

  • Impatiens
  • Lobelia
  • Torenia

Many books list torenia ("monkey flower") as a sun annual. In my experience, it does better in a partially shady area.

One thing to note is that flowers such as impatiens need a great deal of water. Even in shady locations, you will need to water daily during the summer months when the weather is hot and dry.


Using Annual Flowers as Focal Points

Planting big drifts and masses of annual flowers, especially flowers all of the same color or color family, creates a focal point in the garden. A focal point is a spot that draws attention. When you look at the landscape, focal points naturally attract attention. Instead of planting a row of impatiens marching along your front walkway, why not plant big masses and drifts of the same flowers to create garden focal points? Here are some ideas:

  • Create an island bed on the lawn, and plant a huge mass of the same flower
  • Plant big groups of similar flowers between your foundation shrubs near the home. The colorful annual flowers will really "pop" next to evergreens, for example, and you can choose colors to accent your home.
  • Use drifts and masses of flowers in big tubs and planters.

Annual flowers are relatively inexpensive. Experiment with color this season and have fun in your garden!


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    • Jeanne Grunert profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeanne Grunert 

      4 years ago from Virginia

      Thank you for the kind comments! Yes, these are pictures of flowers in my garden - I'm glad everyone enjoys them!

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 

      4 years ago from USA

      I know very little about gardening (though I'm learning through great hubs on Hubpages!), but I'm thrilled to see some of the flowers we've chosen for our garden mentioned here. I'm excited to see our Dainthus and Gerber Daisies start to expand in our flower beds! Looks like we made some good choices for this year, and I'm pinning this article for next year. Voted up! Thanks!!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      4 years ago from United States

      Good advice, Jeanne, that sparks the imagination! Shared & pinned. --Jill

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I filled my borders with dianthus last year, and were amazed how lovely they looked.

      A lovely article and great information, thank you and voted up.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image


      6 years ago from Orange County, California

      Gorgeous article. I love the photos. I actually use some of these plants in my landscaping ... but they don't look quite as luscious as the ones in your pictures!

    • LoriSoard profile image


      6 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

      Jeanne, I'm getting ready to redo our landscaping, so this was really useful. The pictures go perfectly with the topic. Voting up.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hello Jeanne, I hope to incorporate more and more annuals into my garden. I grew up in Southern California, and it was never an issue really, of flowers dying from a freeze. I planted many perennials here in the Midwest because of this that can handle the climate.

      Now, I am ready to bring more annuals back in, more than ever before. They do bring such a splash of color unlike other plants. Thanks for sharing a great hub!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I only wish I had more property to add a mass of flowers! I do a modified mass where I have room. Good info and nice pictures. Voted up and useful.

    • emimemo profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Nice pictures. and good info.Thank you.


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