Spectacular Annuals for Containers 

Annuals for containers are great for novice gardeners or anyone who wants to add interest and colour to their or . The most eye-catching arrangements combine contrasting colours, textures and leaf sizes for optimal interest.

Here are my top 10 suggestions for to include in container arrangements or hanging baskets:


Given a weekly drink of plant food, you’ll be rewarded with a strong show all summer long on wispy vines that trail down the pot or rise vertically on a trellis.

A young mandevilla vine with its white flowers getting ready to grow
Mandevilla Vine.
Credit: Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


This emerald beauty has leaves that spread upwards and out in a fan shape presenting a fern-like appearance. Often grown as house plants, these tropical superstars provide visual height and drama in outdoor containers.


At 3’tall with tropical-like foliage and large flowers (red, orange, or yellow) that resemble irises, canna lilies are an ideal container centrepiece in a large pot.

A close up photo of a red Canna Lily flower
Canna Lily Flower

Supertunia Bubblegum

A nonstop flowering, easy-growing pink petunia that never needs to be deadheaded. It’s gorgeous in a pot, delivering punches of color until fall frost.

Supertunia Bubblegum in full bloom with dozens of pink flowers
Supertunia Bubblegum.
Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia” by hollyjazzz362 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Begonia explodes with prolific blooms that hummingbirds can’t resist. Colors hold best in afternoon shade, but some varieties tolerate full sun too. This is a ‘self-cleaning’ plant, meaning the flowers drop off as they fade so you never need to remove them.

A growth of small red begonia
Small Red Begonia
Credit: Maciej Opaliński, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


A true showstopper with its unique vine-like sprawling appearance and opening flowers in rich tones of pink, orange, gold and that fade from hue to hue as the blossoms age. Flowers beckon butterflies and hummingbirds.

Colorful Lantana camara
Lantana camara.
Credit: Juan Carlos Fonseca Mata, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Also known as million bells, this cutie resembles a mini-petunia, with varieties offering a rainbow of color combinations and patterns. 

Purple, pink and orange calibrachoa flowers in white ceramic vase
Purple, pink and orange Calibrachoa million bells flowers


A classic for containers and baskets, geraniums deliver strong color all season long. These plants love the heat but you’ll have to take a minute to remove any spent heads to promote continuous blooming.

Red Geraniums in a planter
Red geranium flowers in a pot
Geranium bush on doorstep” by Leimenide is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Persian Shield

Uused for its shiny purple foliage (like Coleus), it makes a great contrast or backdrop for plants with bright-colored flowers (foliage color is best in part shade). 

purple Persian Shield in a container.
Persian Shield in a container.
Credit Daryl_mitchell from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sweet potato vine

This plant is loved for its unique chartreuse, purple or bronze foliage.  It’s naturally trailing habit makes it the perfect ‘spill-over’ plant for hanging baskets.

Purple weet potato vine in a container
Sweet Potato vine
Dave Whitinger, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons


Patricia is a long-time resident of the Alta Vista area of Ottawa with 30+ years of gardening experience.  If you’d like to share your thoughts about this article or reach out for design and planting advice for your , please contact Patricia by email: OttawaPlantByNumbers@gmail.com or on Instagram: @ottawaplantbynumbers

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