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Best Summer Annuals for Southern Ontario

With spring well under way, it is a great time for revamping your garden for the upcoming warmer months. One of the best choices for adding some colour to your gardens for the year are Summer Annuals.

Best annuals landscaping pickering

Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle from germination to seed within a single year. There are also biennials which take two years to complete their life cycle and Perennials which will live longer than two years. Annuals come in two varieties those that germinate in spring and mature in the fall and those that germinate in the fall and mature in the spring or summer of the following year. Since summer annuals live through their whole life cycle before the winter this gives gardeners an added bonus of variety as many tropical annuals can be grown in southern Ontario since the cold will be avoided during their lifetime.

If you are looking to add some colour to your Region of Durham garden for this coming year annuals are the way to go. They are perfect for garden edges, bordering walkways and entrances and filling smaller spaces within your garden. If cared for correctly annuals can flower till the frost in the fall arrives.

Now these plants should not be planted until after the last frost date as the cold will kill these plants. You can check for the average last frost date in your area using Our last frost date in the Durham Region normally is between May 11th to May 20th and for most of southern Ontario it falls between April 1st and may 30th.

Given that these plants go through their life cycle very quickly many of the varieties enjoy more sunny areas in your garden. However, there are still varieties that can thrive in any other living condition your garden may have.

A few varieties that we would recommend to most homeowners are.


Petunias are great for both sunny and semi-shady areas, have many colour varieties and many of them require little upkeep in order to stay blooming throughout the summer. They can be susceptible to mold and their appearance may decline if they receive excessive amounts of water. Here is a good resource on petunias if you wish to use these in your garden. Also remember to ask your garden centers about the varieties they carry to see which ones will work best in the areas you want to plant them.


These annuals are for those who love colourful foliage as these plants main attraction are there leaves. Coleus is very hearty making upkeep quite simple. It grows very quickly and most varieties prefer shaded areas with good drainage in your garden. (I have a good like for this one too)


These beautiful flowering annuals look great in your garden but come with a nice bonus that can help both vegetable and flowering garden beds. These plants help deter many common pests that can cause suffering to your other plants. They do well as a border to vegetable gardens or interspersed inside the garden bed or near. Geraniums will produce more flowers in sunnier locations and more foliage in shady locations. They also do well to get pruned during the year as flowers grow on new wood. Similarly, to petunias they do not like excessive amounts of water.


Portulaca is a ground cover that has cylindrical leaves and small to medium sized flowers. Portulaca do very well in sunny areas and spread very easily. By just sprinkling their seeds on the ground they will often take root and grow from there though planting would be recommended. Given that their cylindrical foliage holds water very well these plants do not need to be watered often. They are best used as ground cover in dry areas where they have room to expand as they can spread themselves well or control of their growth may have to be done by the gardener. They are recommended for their ease of care their beauty and for being drought tolerant.


Blue is one of the most difficult flower colours to find out there and most have to be in a fully sunny location competing with the space you have for the majority of your annuals. Ageratums have a very beautiful blue flower that also has a very unique shape adding that it can be planted in sunny and semi-shaded areas of your garden this is a great option for many homeowners. These plants do well to be watered regularly and to have spent flowers removed by deadheading.


Begonias have both a beautiful flower and interesting foliage. These annuals also do better in partly shaded areas as they can be stressed out from intense direct sun in the summer. They require more care than most of the plants on this list as they need regular watering and deadheading and pinching to look their best but we believe that the look is well worth it.

Daniel Hogenbirk

Landscape Foreman

Birk’s Landscaping Inc.

(905) 404-0602


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