Winter Annuals

Pansies flower and flower, starting in autumn, through winter and spring and into summer. They come in just about every colour, even black and are a favourite choice for pots, hanging baskets, window boxes or garden borders. They perform best in a well drained soil or potting mix with fertiliser. Protect from snails. If autumn planted pansies get tatty over winter, trim them back and feed them with liquid fertiliser and a fresh crop of flowers will appear. Traditionally they are not for hot weather, but modern strains are increasingly heat tolerant.

Super colourful polyanthus (Primula acaulus) offer a vast choice of colours and forms and are a top choice for winter pots. Snip of spent flowers and feed every few weeks and they’ll bloom for months on end.

Lobelias produce teaming masses of small blue, white, purple, pink, or red flowers on plants which vary from cascading to mounding to upright. Cascading forms are great for hanging basket while those with a compact mounding habit make colourful edging. Among the very of the best of the blues.

Dainty alyssum will flower all year round in a mild climate, self sowing to renew its fragrant clumps. It is ideal for growing in and around paving. Alyssum grows in full sun or part shade and survives periods of drought and poor soil, but doesn’t take kindly to cold wet conditions.   Flowers are white, cream, pink, purple, red or apricot shades. Alyssum is a good companion flower for bulbs, herbs and veges in pots, a great mixer in a hanging basket and a useful border.

Violas are baby pansies. What they lack in size they flowers more than make up for in volume, smothering the plants from early spring. Being tidy compact habit and low growing they are the perfect border in containers or in the garden. They are ideal for planting with bulbs. Violas are easy to grow in sun or semi-shade, from autumn to summer. They will perform best in a well drained, compost-rich soil with occasional liquid feeding.

Sweet peas          
Sweet peas, loved for their fragrance and beautiful for picking, are sown in autumn to flower in spring, or in spring to flower in summer. They need something to climb on, such as a tepee made from bamboo stakes and are best sown directly into well prepared ground. Give them a well drained compost rich soil and feed them generously once they start to grow with liquid fertiliser. Mulch is a good idea to keep roots cool. They will flower 12 to 15 weeks after sowing.


Stock (Mattholia incana) is loved for its fragrance, which is best at night or on overcast days. These are cool season flowers in shades of pink, purple, red, white or cream. There are both single and double flowers and tall or dwarf forms. Plant seedlings from autumn to early spring in a well drained fertile soil.

Cornflowers are loved for their intense blue colour. There are also pink and white, tall or dwarf. Easy to grow in full sun, cornflowers are cool weather flowers ideally sown or planted in autumn (or early spring in a cold climate).

Fairy primrose (Primula malacioides) are perfect for planting with bulbs and for mass planting in drifts of airy colour around trees and shrubs, blooming in winter and spring. Tiered flowers in shades of pink, purple and or white sit above rosettes of soft green leaves. Nice in pots too.