Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld


Annual Flowers

& other Bedding Plants

Annuals generally germinate, flower, set seed and die within a single year. Some species may survive more than a year under favourable conditions (i.e. short-lived perennials), but are treated as annuals for the purposes of producing spectacular displays, and discarded after they've passed their prime.

"Bedding plants" generally refers to plants, annual or perennial, employed in short term displays. Perennials used in this way might include cannas, pelargoniums, salvias, coleus and other coloured foliage plants, massed in garden beds to create stunning effects over a period of weeks or months, after which the beds are cleared and prepared for fresh planting. Cuttings or divisions of these plants may be taken for future use.

True annuals are usually reproduced from seed. If you wish to save seed, a drawback is that you need to retain the plant long enough for the seed to mature during which time the plant won't look very good. is isn't such a problem in an informal cottage-style garden. Some species self-seed, so over time you can enjoy flowers popping up throughout the garden without any work. Encourage this by sprinkling seed of from spent plants in areas where you might like some more flowers. Most can be easily removed if they come up where they aren't wanted. As space fillers, they're preferable to weeds!

Get Results Gardening is a newsletter-style, mini-magazine for Australians, with an emphasis on the South East Queensland. It covers easy to grow annuals and other plants suitable for this regions, plus basic gardening information, trends and design concepts that will be of interest to home owners across the country. Get a three month trial for free and without obligation with a simple email request and learn more about other plants suitable for the subtropics. More information at

More Information

Few home gardeners in Queensland are using annuals and other bedding plants on a large scale as they did in the past. Most of us don't have the time (nor the water, often) to invest in such temporary displays anymore. Nowadays, carpets of colour today are mainly limited to the more high-profile municipal locations, special festivals and garden competitions.

Bedding plants still have a place in the modern garden, however. For a few dollars, you can dress up high impact areas like entranceways, and fill in temporary bare spots while you're waiting for your more permanent plantings to grow. Annuals, especially the advanced plants, are also good for decorating the garden for special occasions like a garden weddings.

If you don't have a suitable garden bed available, don't forget that annuals and bedding plants can be used in pots, hanging baskets and planter boxes. Container gardens are a great way to have fun and be creative with annuals and bedding plants. Your chances of success are also increased with the many specialised potting mixes, fertilisers and pots on the market, helping you overcome the local environmental conditions.

Annuals are often heavily used in Garden Competitions.

With seed you can get a lot of plants very cheaply. Seed is the most successful and practical way to grow many of the more robust annuals. For the busy or inexperienced gardener, punnets are generally much easier and faster, especially for some of the more delicate species, and not much more expensive if you only need a few plants anyway.

Many traditional annuals are only suitable for the cooler months of the year here in Qld. Look out for new types, heat and drought tolerant varieties, and perennial or semi-perennial species (even if you only grow them as annuals) for a prolonged display.

Attractive herbs and vegetables can also be incorporated into bedding schemes. Look for interesting growth forms or coloured foliage, in particular.

Large quantities of plants can be raised more cheaply from seed, but requires more time and effort and a certain amount of skill. Seed might be the only way to obtain unusual or heritage varieties (this goes for herbs and vegetable, too). Mail order suppliers are usually the best places to look for unusual varieties. However, many chain stores offer popular lines in packets which are reasonably priced and ideal for beginners. See Seeds and seed raising for more on this topic.

If you require very large quanitities for a special application (e.g. Garden weddings), whether as seedlings or at blooming stage, you may find it worthwhile ordering from a wholesale grower. Be sure to organise your order in plenty of time.

More Online Information

The following are for general information, research and ideas - some species or cultivars referred to in links may be unavailable in Australia or unsuitable for Queensland conditions


Part 3; Queen's Park during Carnival of Flowers and Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers/ Laurel Bank Park.... Featuring some examples of bedding plant displays in Qld, from "The Next Stage" (blog)
Annual Flowers: Flower Types North Carolina State University
Annual Flowers Fit Well in any Landscape Hendry County Extension Service, Univ Florida
Annual Flowers for Florida University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences USA
Gardening with Annuals in Florida University of Florida (PDF)
Flower Bed: Annuals AZ Master Gardener Manual, Arizona
Bedding plants and displays Royal Horticultural Society, UK
Perennial Bedding Plants for Hawaii University of Hawaii at Manoa (PDF)
Plant annuals for color General advice. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (PDF)
Annual Flowers for Specific Uses in Nebraska NebGuide from University of Nebraska

Planting and Growing

Bedding Plants: Selection, Establishment and Maintenance University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences USA
Plan to transplant for faster gardens Office of Agricultural Communications Mississippi State University, USA
Make Your Bedding Plants Last Longer University of Florida (PDF)
Revive Annual Flowers Purdue University
Summer Care for Flowering Annuals University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Keep Annual Flowers Blooming Longer University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Annuals in the Floida landscape - Why failures occur and how to overcome them Reproduction of a 1983 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Nutrient Disorder Photos A variety of bedding plants and disorders covered, with notes. N.C. State University, North Carolina

Planning and Design

Flower Garden Design Basics Cornell University
Planning the spring flowering beds Descibes some of the intensive work required to keep flower beds looking good at this garden. Filioli Estate, near San Francisco (PDF)
Planting the Parterres Filioli Estate, near San Francisco (PDF)
Knot Gardens Filioli Estate, near San Francisco (PDF)
Ornamentals: Annuals/Bedding Plants Plants for use in a traditional African-American yard in Miami-Dade County (PDF)

Annual or mixed displays in containers

Container Gardening Some simple ideas for growing in a variety of container types. Baker County Extension, Florida (PDF)
Container Gardens Colorado State University
Controlling Aggressive Annuals in Combination Planters Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory
Geraniums add thrill to mixed containers Southern Gardening, Mississippi State University
See also the main Container gardening page on this site

Propagation and Production

See also the main Seeds and seed raising and Vegetative Propagation pages on this website
Sowing annual seed Pennsylvania State University (PDF)
Propagating Annuals from Cuttings Iowa State University of Science and Technology
How to Prevent Iron Deficiency in Spring Greenhouse Crops Discusses bedding plant production, with some photos. University of Massachusetts Amherst
See also the following pages on this site: Seeds and seed raising, Vegetative Propagation
Photoperiod and Bedding Plants University of Massachusetts (PDF)
Light and flowering of bedding plants Michigan State University
Minimize Bedding Plant Production Time to Offset High Fuel Costs Discusses effect of temperature and photoperiod on annual flowers (PDF)
Avoiding Bedding Plant Stretch Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory
Scheduling Bedding Plants to be at their Peak each Week Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory


These groups are covered on separate pages:
Pelargoniums (Geraniums)


alyssum  alyssum alyssum


Locally known as Vinca, although it is not the true Vinca. The common pink type found in old gardens is considered a weed by many authorities. Whether the fancier strains commercially available in garden centres are as prolific is unknown. Look for it in punnets.
Pink Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) At "Grow me Instead", a website about invasive ornamentals and alternatives
Catharanthus Roseus Vinca, Periwinkle Lee County Extension, Florida
A Guide for Commercial Production of Vinca The University of Georgia USA
Periwinkles: Favorites During Summer Heat (Catharanthus roseus / Vinca rosea) Office of Agricultural Communications Mississippi State University, USA
Vinca: A Case of Mistaken Identity Missouri Environment and Garden, University of Missouri
Annual Vinca Clemson University, South Carolina
Madagascar Periwinkle, Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) Online Manual of Subtropical Landscaping Plants, Palm Beach Community College, Florida
Catharanthus roseus Ecocrop database, FAO
catharanthus catharanthus catharanthus
catharanthus catharanthus catharanthus


Cockscomb, Celosia Online Manual of Subtropical Landscaping Plants, Palm Beach Community College, Florida
Plumed Celosia Cornell University
Wheat Celosia Cornell University
Crested Celosia Crested Cockscomb


Cleome, French Hollyhock: Tried, True Summer Blooms Office of Agricultural Communications Mississippi State University, USA
Cleome hassleriana Cal's Plant of the Week, University of Oklahoma
Spiderflower Cleome hassleriana. University of Illinois Extension
Cleome Senorita series - These hybrid Cleomes that are perennial in a warm climate and without the thorns of the commmon annual species (AKA spider flower). Will not self-seed because they are sterile. Senorita Rosalita is pink, Senorita Blanca is white.
Cleome Senorita Rosalita Photos of them growing in garden beds. Annual Flower Research at Bluegrass Lane, Cormell University

Cleome Senorita Rosalita Cleome Senorita Rosalita Cleome Senorita Rosalita
Cleome Senorita RosalitaBrisbane, July 2016


Balsam Discusses weedy properties of Impatiens walleriana. At the "Grow Me Instead" website, Australia
New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens 'New Guinea Hybrids') at the "Grow Me Instead" website, Australia
Impatiens Clemson University, South Carolina
Impatiens walleriana Missouri Botanical Garden
Starting Impatiens from Seeds Iowa State University of Science and Technology
Impatiens - A Popular but Over-used Annual Hendry County Extension Service, Univ Florida



Edging Lobelia University of Arkansas
Lobelia Covers several species in the genus.
Lobelia erinus University of Florida (PDF)
Lobelia erinus The Ohio State University
Lobelia Lobelia erinus. Cornell University
Lobelia Lobelia erinus. University of Florida
Lobelia erinus North Carolina State University
Lobelia Lobelia erinus University of Illinois Extension


Tropaeolum majus, Nasturtium The Florez Nursery blog, NSW
Nasturtium: A favorite old-fashioned flower University of Vermont Extension

Pansies and Violas

Pansy Care University of North Carolina Wilmingtom
Versatile Violas Missouri Environment and Garden, University of Missouri
Pansies Missouri Environment and Garden, University of Missouri
Pansy Auburn University
Pansy Texas A &M University
Versatile Violas University of Vermont Extension
Commercial Pansy Production North Carolina State University (PDF)
Pansy - Commercial Greenhouse Production Auburn University, Alabama

Senecio cineraria

. Senecio 'Silver Dust'. Also known as "Dusty Miller". Soft grey ferny foliage would tie with the house colours while providing a colour and texture contrast with other plants. If the small yellow flowers form, will look better if they are removed. Inexpensive filler available in punnets. Could be a short-lived perennial but susceptible to poor drainage and humidity.


Nose of the Dragon Snapdragon. Univ. Florida (PDF)
Snapdragons: An Easy-to-Grow Annual Flower University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus. Cornell University
Snapdragon (dwarf) Cornell University
Antirrhinum majus Cal's Plant of the Week, University of Oklahoma
Antirrhinum majus Univ. Florida
Snapdragon Culture in Florida Reproduction of a 1954 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)


Verbena Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service, South Carolina
Brazilian Verbena Leads The Class (Verbena bonariensis), Office of Agricultural Communications Mississippi State University, USA
Verbena x hybrida Annual North Carolina State University
Verbena bonariensis Perennial North Carolina State University
Verbena hybrida New Mexico State University


Ageratums now offer long performance season Mississippi State University
Ageratum Flossflower, Ageratum houstonianum. Cornell University
Kale Ornamantal Kale (Brassica oleracea) Washington State University
Calendula officinalis Cornell University
California Poppy Eschscholzia. Notes on history and naming. Parker County Master Gardener Association, Texas (PDF)
Profligacy Is the Best Policy Blog post at The Human Flower Project about Shirley poppy and other poppies
Kalanchoe - A potential new pot crop for Florida (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) Reproduction of a 1978 article, Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society (PDF)
Kalanchoe Clemson University, South Carolina
Sweet Alyssum, Lobularia maritima University of Wisconsin-Extension Master Gardener Program
Nemesia and Diascia Univ. Florida
Portulaca grandiflora University of Florida (PDF)
Santolina Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, Shrubs & Vines (PDF)
Santolina rosmarinifolia subsp. rosmarinifolia (= S. virens) UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, University of British Columbia, Canada

More to come in future updates


Attracting predators with Alyssum

A Washington State University study in which sweet alyssum was grown near apple trees has shown a reduced incidence of wooly apple aphid due to the enhanced predator populations. Six different flowers including marigolds and zinnia were considered for the study, but alyssum was chosen because it attracted the most syrphids (hoverflies), the larvae of which feed on aphids. However, during the study few hoverfly larvae were found. rather, a diverse array of spiders and predactory insects appeared responsible for most of the aphid decline. Protein markers sprayed on the flowers and later identified on predators indicated they had indeed visited the flowers and so were presumably attracted by them. Source: Flower power fights orchard pests (May 2013)

From annual to immortal

By altering a gene, German researchers have been able to prevent flowering in tobacco and expand the lifespan of a plant from about 4 months to "forever". Their oldest plant is now 8 years old. Besides indefinite growth, leaf senescence is also prevented. Applied to other crops that aren't dependent on flowering (e.g. potatoes), the discovery could potentially boost production while eliminating the risk of genetic contamination of the agricultural/natural environment through pollen or seed. Source: Giant tobacco plants that stay young forever (January 2013)

Alyssum gets industrial

"Cleaning Land for Wealth" is a UK research project that aims to rehabilitate contaminated soils while producing useful metallic nanoparticles, with the help of common plants like Alyssum. Properly developed, it's possible that plant "biofactories" will be able to produce particles of the right size and shape to be used in applications like catalytic converters or cancer treatments, without further processing. Source: Flower power to purge poison and produce platinum (November 2012)

Snapdragon (Photo: Brisbane, September 2012)

Snapdragon - plant habit. (Photo: Brisbane, September 2012)
Double-flowered Snapdragon. (Photo: Brisbane, September 2012)
Portulaca in containers. Brisbane, April 2013