mix of colourful plants in a box planter

Annual flowers for the cottage

Now’s the time to start planting masses of colourful blooms to enjoy all season long

If you’re craving a burst of colour this year — and aren’t we all? — then planting plenty of annuals is the way to get it at the cottage. It’s not too late to have us fill your flower beds, borders, containers and more with masses of blooms that will keep you smiling from now right through fall, when Muskoka begins to freeze up.

With so many annuals to choose from, though, where do you start? Here are five of our favourites to get you started.

Savannah Geraniums

What’s not to love about geraniums? They have long-lasting blooms, the plants are easy to care for, and they last a long, long time as cut flowers. No wonder there are gardeners who fill their beds and containers with almost nothing but geraniums.

Savannah Geraniums grow to about 20 inches tall, but because they have such dense foliage there’s no need to plant anything in front of them if you don’t wish — they look good for that entire 20-inch height. 

In a container, these are definitely the “thrill” in the thrill-spill-fill formula, catching the eye of people and pollinators alike. Plant the deep red cultivars of Savannah Geraniums and watch the hummingbirds come calling!

Easy Wave Petunias

No annual garden is complete without petunias. They’ve been popular with gardeners from the moment they were brought to Europe in the mid-1800s and have never really gone out of style.

If anything, their popularity has soared even more with the development of the Wave Petunias, a range of cultivars that produce wave after wave of blooms all season long.

Easy Wave is one of the most recent cultivars in the Wave range. They are a more mounded and spread a bit more — up to three feet per plant — than the original Wave cultivars, giving them more of a three-dimensional effect in the landscape.  

These are fabulous in beds, containers, or hanging baskets. We particularly like Easy Wave in blue and in plum vein.

Garden Croton

Annuals are often thought of primarily as flowering plants, but don’t forget about the foliage they bring. The leaves of garden croton (Codiaeum variegatum) are fascinating all on their own.

The colours range from yellows, oranges, and greens right the way through to reds, pinks and purples, and the patterns can be mottled, striped, marbled or spotted.

Croton is most often seen as a house plant, so it’s really eye-catching to see some of these growing in a garden. And if you wish, when the season begins to wind down you can bring it indoors and continue to enjoy it all through the winter as well.

Majesty Palm

Here’s another plant that is absolutely striking in the garden, partly because it’s unexpected and yet somehow seems perfectly at home. In the wilds of Madagascar, majesty palms can grow to 80 feet tall — truly a majestic plant! And yet, despite their tropical heritage, they will also do very well at the cottage in Muskoka… for a season, at least.

They don’t mind shade, and really like things to be moist and humid. We can plant them in a pot so they can be brought indoors as winter houseplants, or treat them as pure annuals that are enjoyed for a season and then allowed to die back when the cold weather arrives.


If you’re looking for a flower that provides all-season bloom with very little attention, you can’t go wrong with celosia. These reliable performers begin blooming early and will remain in bloom right up until the fall, with very little attention.

The flowers have been described as looking like candlesticks drawn by Dr. Seuss, and they come in an array of colours. We like the Fresh Look blend, which is a plume-type celosia that comes in an array of colours including reds, golds, purples, and yellows.

Celosia is easy to care for, as long as it gets lots of sun and the right moisture balance — keep it well-watered, but don’t let it sit with wet feet. It does well in containers or in garden beds, as long as the soil isn’t clay.

Posted in In the Garden.