15 Wonderful Self-Sowing Annuals (With Photos)

Self-sowing annuals are plants that don’t need manual replanting each year. Instead, they drop their own seeds, so you can have them year after year with little effort.

Some flowers will only self-sow in the right climates and conditions, while others don’t need much help at all. Use our handy guide to learn about 15 of the best self-sowing annuals for your yard or garden.

1. Larkspur

Scientific Name: Consolida ajacis
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

Larkspur comes in a wide range of colors, including shades of blue. The flowers also stand at the top of light, airy stems, so the flowers blend in well with other plants.

To ensure your larkspur develops well enough to self-sow, plant it in partial to full sun. Also, make sure its soil is well-drained and kept moist.

2. Satin Flower

Scientific Name: Clarkia amoena
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

The satin flower is native to central California, but it actually does best in slightly cooler weather. The blooms peak just before the height of summer, which gives them their other common name of “farewell-to-spring.” 

They produce crepe-like petals with a satiny sheen, often in pink, red, or lavender. Also, they’re very tall flowers, growing up to two-and-a-half feet.

They grow well in full sun but a little shade during the hottest parts of the summer is also helpful. Cultivate them with care and they’ll re-sow themselves each year.

3. Cosmos

Scientific Name: Cosmos bipinnatus
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

This beautiful flower is easy to grow, even in hot and dry areas. It does need at least six hours of sunlight a day, but otherwise, its care is very basic.

A healthy cosmos plant will bloom throughout the summer, and may even grow tall enough to need stakes. You can deadhead flowers for a longer bloom, but don’t overdo it.

Cosmos need some flowerheads remaining in order to self-seed the next year. 

4. Malope

Scientific Name: Malope trifida
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-10

An annual flower in mid-Atlantic areas, the malope blooms from the middle of summer to early fall.

It needs regular watering as it doesn’t do well with too much dryness. So, if there isn’t a lot of rainfall, you’ll have to water it manually on a regular basis.

But the effort is worth it to have these vibrant flowers every year. They also attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

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5. New Guinea Impatiens

Scientific Name: Impatiens hawkeri
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10-12

New Guinea impatiens have fewer flowers than other species, but they tend to be much larger and more showy.

They are also more tolerant of sunshine than others. That means they’re more adaptable to yards that get varying levels of sunlight.

Because they bloom for a long time, sometimes right until the first frost, you also have a wide range of time to plant them.

6. Love-In-A-Mist

Scientific Name: Nigella damascena
USDA Hardiness Zones: 1-7

Although they do well throughout the U.S., love-in-a-mist flowers are annual in more northern zones. It doesn’t flourish quite as well in hot climates and it needs fertile soil.

Think carefully about where you want to put this flower, as its long taproot makes it harder to transplant. Once you establish it, though, this plant will provide beautiful and unusual blooms.

To make sure it comes back each year through self-sowing, deadhead with care. You don’t want to remove too many of the seedpods.

7. Pot Marigold

Scientific Name: Calendula officinalis
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

The best time to start marigolds is six to eight weeks before the final frost in your area. They’re easy to start indoors as seedlings or directly in the ground from starter plants.

Deadheading will promote more blooms even in the fall. Be sure to leave enough so that they can reseed in the spring again.

Marigolds aren’t just handy self-seeders, they’re also edible and good for dyes. You can add them to salads or give the fabric a nice yellow color.

8. Moss Rose

Scientific Name: Portulaca grandiflora
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

Moss roses are beautiful annuals that can grow in most zones across the United States. While they do need full sun, they’re tolerant of dry soil and don’t need a lot of maintenance.

Moss roses aren’t true roses, but their ruffly petals do look similar. Add these colorful flowers as ground cover for your garden or yard.

They can last from June to the earliest frost and will reseed with proper care.

9. Plains Coreopsis

Scientific Name: Coreopsis tinctoria
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

They don’t have the most elegant name, but plains coreopsis are absolutely stunning flowers to add to a garden.

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These self-sowing annuals have yellow or brownish centers with rusty orange coloring on the petals in the middle.

But then the petals sharply change color to vibrant yellow with little to no shading. This abrupt contrast really makes these flowers stand out from the crowd.

They are also capable of self-sowing in almost any bare open ground.

10. California Poppy

Scientific Name: Eschscholzia californica
USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-10

The California poppy is, in fact, the state flower of California. However, you don’t have to be in California to appreciate its beauty. It’s an annual plant throughout the warmer regions of the United States.

The petals of the California poppy aren’t just a beautiful orange color, they also have interesting reactions to the weather.

At night, or if the weather is rainy or cloudy, the flowers actually close up! When they’re ready to self-sow, the petals fall away and reveal a capsule of black seeds that eventually splits open.

11. Sweet Alyssum

Scientific Name: Lobularia maritima
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5-9

Sweet Alyssum has many uses in a garden. It works well as a border or edging plant, especially where you need a lot of flowers.

It also works well as filler among taller plants, as it only grows between three and ten inches tall. If you leave them to overwinter in your garden, you can remove them in the spring.

You should see the beginning of plenty of self-planted seedlings below.

12. Bachelor’s Button Cornflower

Scientific Name: Centaurea cyanus
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-11

Although it’s not native to North America, this variety of cornflower has naturalized throughout most of the U.S. and Canada.

They bloom purple and blue flowers (sometimes white or light pink) from May to July in full sun. Their seeds are very attractive to birds.

If you’d rather not have birds, you can deadhead your cornflowers, but always be careful. Removing too many will reduce the level of their self-seeding.

13. Common Snapdragon

Scientific Name: Antirrhinum majus
USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-10

Snapdragons are available in almost every flower color imaginable. Not only are they colorful, but they also have a unique petal shape as well.

In fact, both their genus name and common names refer to the fact that they look like an animal’s snout.

Snapdragons can be tricky to grow, but are beautiful as cut flowers and as container plants. They can look wilted in the summer but can also be easy to overwater.

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But these self-sowing annuals offer color and texture to those who put in the effort of proper cultivation.

14. Sweet Pea

Scientific Name: Lathyrus odoratus
USDA Hardiness Zones: 8-10

The sweet pea is another flower available in a vast array of colors. It’s also a climbing flower, perfect for trellises and arches.

While they can grow in zones 2-10, it’s the warmer climates where sweet peas will self-sow. Not only that, but they will readily cross-pollinate with other sweet pea variants.

Or, if you already have hybrids, you may get another surprise the next season. Sometimes hybrid sweet peas will revert to just one of their parents’ features!

In short, planting sweet peas may have some surprising results, but rarely unpleasant ones.

15. Morning Glory

Scientific Name: Ipomoea tricolor
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-12

Some people have mixed feelings about morning glories, as they can be aggressive weed-like flowers.

But if you’re looking for a lot of ground cover and something fast-growing, morning glories can be helpful. They’re also attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies while being resistant to deer.

The flowers are large and trumpet-shaped, and often have a light center that fades into a deeper purple, pink, or blue. Or, if you have a pearly gates variant, the center is yellow and fades into white.

They easily self-seed and grow vines rapidly. If you don’t want it to overcrowd other plants, keep an eye on its growth and trim back as needed.

Lucy Young

Meet Lucy, a seasoned gardener with a green thumb and a wealth of experience cultivated over 10 years in her own backyard oasis. Now, she channels her passion into writing, sharing invaluable gardening knowledge on her website. From nurturing plants to expert pruning techniques, Lucy's articles are a treasure trove for both seasoned enthusiasts and budding gardeners. Join her on this leafy journey as she sprinkles insights, tips, and tricks to help you create your own flourishing paradise. Get ready to dig into her gardening wisdom and unlock the secrets of a thriving garden!

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