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This under-appreciated annual bears the most beautiful, satiny pink or white flowers for weeks in summer. It also goes by the charming name farewell-to-spring, perhaps because it blooms just as spring temperatures are rising. Plant it once and you won't want to go a growing season without it.

Native to areas of North America, this plant does best in areas with cool summers and in moist, well-drained soil. It's a great cut flower, too. Although you can sometimes find it as established seedlings, most gardeners will need to start it from seed. Plant directly in the ground in early spring; it dislikes transplanting. Don't fertilize. If it has too many nutrients, it will have lots of foliage and few flowers.


Part Sun, Sun



1 to 3 feet


To 1 foot wide

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From tiny, cheerful Johnny jump-ups to the stunning 3-inch blooms of Majestic Giant pansies, the genus Viola has a spectacular array of delightful plants for the spring garden. They're must-haves to celebrate the first days of spring since they don't mind cold weather and can even take a little snow and ice!They're pretty planted in masses in the ground, but also cherished for the early color they bring to pots, window boxes, and other containers. By summer, pansies bloom less and their foliage starts to brown. It's at this time that you'll have to be tough and tear them out and replant with warm-season annuals, such as marigolds or petunias. But that's part of their charm -- they are an ephemeral celebration of spring!
Few gardens should be without the easy charm of snapdragons. They get their name from the fact that you can gently squeeze the sides of the intricately shaped flower and see the jaws of a dragon head snap closed. The blooms come in gorgeous colors, including some with beautiful color variations on each flower. Plus, snapdragons are an outstanding cut flower. Gather a dozen or more in a small vase and you'll have one of the prettiest bouquets around.Snapdragons are especially useful because they're a cool-season annual, coming into their own in early spring when the warm-season annuals, such as marigolds and impatiens, are just being planted. They're also great for fall color.Plant snapdragon in early spring, a few weeks before your region's last frost date. Deadhead regularly for best bloom and fertilize regularly. Snapdragons often self-seed in the landscape if not deadheaded, so they come back year after year, though the colors from hybrid plants will often will be muddy looking. In mild regions, the entire plant may overwinter if covered with mulch.Shown above: 'Rocket Red' snapdragon
Stock offers a wonderfully spicy, distinctive scent. Plant it in spring several weeks before your region's last frost date -- this annual thrives in cool temperatures and stops blooming once hot weather arrives. It's especially wonderful in window boxes and planters at nose level, where its sometimes subtle effect can best be appreciated.Stock is slightly spirelike and comes in a wide range of colors. It makes a great cut flower, perfuming bouquets as well as the border. It grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil.

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