You don’t have to be an expert to create an impressive flower garden — you just need to choose the right flowers. Armed with a little knowledge about what to look for when planning your flower garden, you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in a short time, with as little or as much effort as you choose.
Determine Location of Your Flower Garden or Containers
One of the first things you should consider is where you want to plant your flowers. This will help you determine the quantity you need, as well as the desirable height and width of the plants.
Know How Much Sun or Shade These Locations Get
Take note of the amount of sunlight your flowers will obtain in these locations. Then, you need to find out if the flowers are sun loving or if they prefer the shade.
Be Aware of Any Temperature Restrictions
Knowing your hardiness zone is particularly important when ordering plants through an Internet web site. Flowers obtained from your local garden shop should be suitable for your particular zone. But regardless of where you get your plants, check for low or high temperature requirements.
Select Easy-to-Grow Flowers
If you love a beautiful garden, but are a somewhat inexperienced gardener, initially stock your garden with flowers that can flourish with very little care.
Asiatic Lily — Blooms: May or June for ~ 3 weeks
Asiatic Lilies are available in a wide range of beautifully rich colors. They stand 2 to 6 feet high, are easy to grow, and are extremely hardy. Asiatics thrive in sunny to partially sunny conditions, growing best when planted in fertile, well-drained soil.
To prolong flowering, remove the blooms as they begin to wilt. After all the blooms have died, don’t cut the foliage all the way down. Instead, let them die off naturally to maintain needed nutrients for next year’s growth. Although dividing every 2 to 3 years is recommended, it is not necessary. I started with two lily plants, each with three blooms. Five years later, I have a beautiful display of over 40 blooms.
Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium) — Blooms: April to July
Don’t dismiss this flowering plant because of its unusual name. This rapidly-spreading ground covering is very pretty and perfect for landscaping.
My favorite variety, which is Purple Dragon, has heart-shaped leaves, which are silvery-green with dark green rims, and the flowers have small pinkish-purple blooms. It does best when planted in a sunny or partially sunny location. After first flowering, cut it back, so it will be fuller and more compact.
It is low maintenance, but mealy bugs and spider mites like to snack on the foliage. Therefore, it’s best to take preventative measures early in the season before the leaves have been damaged.
Liatris (Blazing Star) — Blooms: June or July for ~ 6 weeks
I fell in love with these flowers the first time I saw their vibrant magenta spikes displayed in front of one of our local restaurants.
These unusual flowers, which grow to be 2 to 5 feet tall, prefer sunny conditions, but they do well in partial sun, as well. Blazing Stars do not like to be too wet, so water only when the top few inches of the soil is dry. Without sufficient sunlight and circulation, they have a tendency to mildew, so make sure they aren’t too crowded.
They are drought tolerant, deer resistant, and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Dianthus — Blooms: May to August
Dianthuses are available in a variety of colors, both solid and variegated. These small, delicate flowers prefer sun and well-drained soil. They won’t survive if over-watered or over-mulched. Deadheading spent flowers will increase and prolong flower production.
Some varieties of Dianthuses are annuals, so be sure to check to make sure you are getting the type you want.
Tulips — Blooms: Early Spring for ~ 1 Month
Who can resist a bed of colorful tulips? The first emergence of new foliage each year always brings a smile to my face.
For best results, plant the bulbs in October or November. To encourage continued production, do not overcrowd. They should be planted in full sun and in well-drained soil. Most varieties grow to be from 15 to 30 inches tall. After flowering, it is okay to deadhead the tulips, but let the leaves die off naturally. Then, carefully remove the dead foliage.
White Licorice — Blooms: Spring and Summer
Since I have a preference for brightly-colored flowers (particularly, reds and deep pinks), this silvery-light green (with a dusting of white) plant provides a nice contrast.
Plant it in sun or partial sun, watering it frequently until it is established. Then, you need water it only when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry to the touch.
I was surprised how rapidly this plant spreads, which makes it a good choice for ground covering or hanging baskets. Trim if plant spreads more than you desire. Some plants produce tiny white blooms, but they are almost undetectable.
It is a perennial only in warmer climates, since it cannot live in temperatures below 25 degrees.
Petunias – Blooms: Spring to Late Fall
Growing petunias never gets old, although they’ve been a mainstay in gardens for many years. These flowers come in an array of colors, and are particularly stunning when grown in standing pots or hanging baskets.
They should be planted in well-drained soil, in full sun, and should be thoroughly once a week. Deadhead them regularly to increase and prolong flowering, and for bushy, compact plants, cut back stems every week.
Coleus – Blooms: Grown for Colorful Foliage, but May have Small Bloom in Summer
Coleuses have been favorites of mine for years. Of all the varieties, I prefer the smaller leafed variety which is pink in the center and dark purple on the outside of the leaf.
Coleuses do not like to be cold, so wait until temperatures are at least 50 degrees before planting outdoors. Some coleuses prefer shade, but this particular kind loves the sun. It will also grow in partial shade. Since the sun brings out the pigmentation in the leaf, the more sun it receives, the more vibrant the color will be. They like moist, but not soggy soil.
Pinching back plant tips will make it bushier. Since the leaves are occasionally attacked by pests, most commonly mealy bugs, apply an all-purpose insecticide to reduce possible leaf damage.
Mexican Heather – Blooms: Late Spring to Fall
My flower garden is not complete without this small shrub-like flowering plant. The leaves are dark green and resemble short ferns. The tiny flowers are white, pink, or purple. The most common color is purple.
The Mexican Heather typically grows 1 foot high. It should be planted in partial sun, and the soil should stay moist throughout the growing season. This plant is maintenance-free and very healthy. Pruning will increase flowering and make the plant bushier. In warmer climates, this plant may bloom year round.
Impatiens – Blooms: Until Frost
It isn’t easy to find flowers that bloom so beautifully over such a long period of time, particularly in the shade.
Perfect for sun-challenged gardeners, they produce an abundance of flat star-like flowers, predominantly in whites and shades of pinks and reds. They typically stand from 1 to 2 feet tall. You can recognize the New Guinea variety because the leaves are darker green and are shiny. Double Impatiens blooms that resemble a small rose.
These are great in containers and hanging baskets.
Hibiscus – Blooms: July and August
Just as palm trees make me think of good times at the beach, so does this beautiful tropical flower. It is available in a wide range of colors, my favorite being deep orange.
Plant the Hibiscus in a sunny or partially sunny location. It grows best in 60 – 90 degree weather, and requires a lot of water, particularly in the heat of the summer. However, it is best for the soil to be dry to the touch before watering again.
Prune the plant often to increase bloom production. Pinching the tips of the branches promotes growth further down the stem.
Watch out for pests, such as mealy bugs, aphids, spider mites, and white flies.
Mandevilla – Blooms: Summer to Frost
This exotic plant can be grown as a vine or a bush. It has beautiful trumpet-like flowers in white and shades of pinks and reds. The leaves are dark green and shiny. This is another one of my favorites, because this abundant-blooming plant stays beautiful for such a long period of time.
Mandevilla should be planted in well-drained soil in a sunny to partially sunny location. Pinch the stems back for a bushier plant, and water regularly.
The plant will not survive in temperatures below 50 degrees.
Dusty Millers – Non-Blooming
I always add these as fillers in both my flower beds and containers. The silvery-white color adds an attractive contrast to colorful flowers and green foliage.
These plants, which can grow up to 2 feet tall, thrive in sunny locations. They are easy to grow and also easily handle heat and drought.
Deer Fern (resembles holly ferns)
My wooded lot is overflowing with these ferns. They are excellent additions to flower gardens, as either ground coverings or fillers. For best results, they should be located in shade or partial shade.
Garden for the Beauty and the Fun of It
Soon your flower garden will be brimming with plants and flowers that add beauty and character to your surroundings. You’ve created your own work of art. Enjoy it!