Top 10 Hardy Annuals

In this Top Ten List, our garden expert - Phil McCann - has compiled his favourite Hardy Annuals.

What is a hardy annual? An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one year, and then dies. These tend to be your bedding plants. A hardy plant is one that will tolerate light frosts - so they are particularly good spring plants where we can still be caught out be the frosts.

1. Poached egg plants

(limanthes douglasii)

Loved by the bess, the fattened flower heads are a soft buttery yellow and white. Simple to grow and a real boon in the wildlife garden.

poached egg plant limanthes douglasii

poached egg plant limanthes douglasii

poached egg plant limanthes douglasii

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2. Bells of Ireland

(moluccella laevis)

Something a little different and top class for all flower arrangers. Green blooms on spikes are produced in the summer. An easy plant and a real talking point.

Bells of Ireland moluccella laevis

2. Bells of Ireland moluccella laevis


3. Cosmos

Band on trend with feathery foliage and large daisy-like flowers in pink and white. Scatter the seeds and watch them grow. Sensational.

3. Cosmos Pink

3. Cosmos in purple and white

3. Cosmos single flower

3. Cosmos flowers

4. Pot marigolds

A firm favourite and still look great in any garden. Cheery, bright orange flowers, tonnes of seed and, once you have them, you've got them for years.

4. Pot marigolds

4. Pot Marigolds

4. Pot Marigolds

4. Pot Marigolds


5. Sunflowers

From small to tall, single to branched, yellow to chocolate and easy to grow. Bees love most of them as do children. Surely the perfect annual to grow.

5. Sunflowers

5. Sunflowers


6. Baby's breath

(gyspophilia paniculata)

Dainty white blooms drifting above greenish grey leaves. Easy to grow, richly rewarding and a flower arranger's stalwart.

6. Baby's breath gypsophilia paniculata

6. Baby's Breath gypsophilia paniculata


7. Night-scented stock

Oh, the power of perfumr! Pollinated by moths, each plant will fill the evening air with a heady fragrance. Great in containers on a patio. Scentsational!

7. Night Scented Stock


8. Nasturtium

The easiest of plants to grow and perfect for borders, containers, hanging baskets and growing in cracks in the paving. Red, yellow, orange - choose your colours and sow those seeds. You will never be disappointed in a nasturtium.

8. Nasturtium

8. Nasturtium around the base of a tree


9. Love lies bleeding

(amaranthus caudatus)

A sad common name for a spectacular plant. Blood red tassels form the bloom, hanging from exotic looking plants. Perfect for pot culture.

9. Love Lies Bleeding amaranthus caudatus

9. Love Lies Bleeding amaranthus caudatus


10. Shoo-fly plant

(nicandra physalodes)

Chinese lanterns in washed purple form an attractive display on plants that can shed seed all over the garden. Great for border and containers if you want displays year after year from self-sown plants.

10. Shoo Fly Plant nicandra physalodes

10. Shoo Fly Plant nicandra physalodes

10. Shoo Fly Plant nicandra physalodes