Cool Season Color = Winter Annuals

Color in the Southwest winter is provided by blooms from the forests and fields of the northern regions of the globe. Autumn is time to protect our tropical plants such as colorful canna and heat loving hibiscus. Time to start planting pretty pansies and splendid sweet peas.

An Alphabet of Choices

Almost an entire alphabet of annuals can be planted for winter color. If you spot one I have missed, please let me know!


Why the Scientific Names?

There are at least 6 species of plants called “bachelor’s buttons.” Just want to be clear which one I mean.

If you take a minute to scan the list you will note that the common names and scientific names are often the same. Until some dang botanist comes in and changes them that is, like what happened with alyssum.

A-L Winter Annuals

alyssum (Lobularia maritima, was Alyssum maritimum)
bells of Ireland (Molucca balmis) [from Turkey]
bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus)
blue sage (Salvia azurea) [grown as a perennial in cooler regions]
borage (Borago officinalis)


calendula (Calendula offinalis)
carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus)
corn flower (Centaurea montana)
dianthus (Dianthus plumarius)
dusty miller (Artemisia stelleriana)
echinacea (Echinacea species)
fringe flower (Schizanthus pinnatus)
foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

globe amaranth

heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
Johnny-jump-up (Viola species – common name applied to at least 4 species)
kale, flowering (Brassica oleracea)
Lobelia blue – (Lobelia siphilitica)
Lobelia, trailing (Lobelia erinus)
love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena also Nigella sativa)


M-Z Winter Annuals

monk’s hood (Aconitum carmichaelii) [perennial in Europe]
nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) [Nasturtium officinale is watercress]
ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea)
pansy (Viola × hybrida)
petunia (Petunia × hybrida)
pinks (Dianthus species) [cover photo]
rudbeckia (Rudbeckia hirta)
snapdragon (Antirrhinum species)

Volunteer snapdragon. Had some the previous year and this plant came up in a crack in the paving.

stock (Matthiola sinuata)
sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
toadflax (Linaria species – common name applied to at least 4 species)
violet (Viola species) [grown as a perennial in cooler regions]
wormwood (Artemisia annua)

Planting Winter Annuals

If planting winter annuals in flower beds, some soil preparation is needed. For a full discussion see the article (blog post) – Winter Color With Annuals – here.

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More about growing colorful flowers every month of the year in this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press).  This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

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