Garden Flowers – A Beautiful Addition to Any Landscape
I love asking my children to draw pictures of gardens. Their imagination runs wild, and they randomly include rainbows, birds, butterflies, sunshine or rain clouds, but they always include lots of blooming flowers. Like my children, most gardeners believe that beautiful, vibrant blooms are a “must-have” in any garden. These flowers add color to a home, attract friendly birds, bees, and butterflies and fill the air with soothing scents for all to enjoy.
If you are new to gardening and want to start with flowers, there are a few basics that are important to understand. Knowing how to properly plant and care for your flowers goes a long way toward keeping them healthy and providing you with the colors and scents of Mother Nature, year after year.
Flowering plants are essentially lumped into two categories, perennials and annuals.
- Perennials flower each spring and must be planted after the last frost. They typically produce year after year and go into hibernation each winter. Some plants can live as long as 50 years. Perennials often cost more than annuals, but their yearly production cycle makes them a sound investment. When native, these plants do not require a lot of maintenance, but they must be deadheaded, or cut back, at the end of every growing season to retain health. Some popular perennials include roses, daffodils, tulips, iris, lily and hyacinth.
- Annuals only grow for one season. They go from being planted in the spring to growing, flowering, setting seeds and then dying by late fall or early winter. Some annuals are quite hardy and can be planted late in the growing season because they tolerate cold soil well. Other annuals are tender and need warm soil and air temperatures to begin a healthy growth pattern. Annuals typically cost less at the onset, but many must be repurchased each year. The exception to this is when a garden of annuals is very well maintained and the flowers drop a large amount of seeds. These seeds then grow into flowers in early spring. Some popular annuals include begonia, geranium, petunia, gazania, coleus and salvil.
Flowers Need Sunshine
Regardless of whether you choose annuals, perennials or a mixture of both, one basic principal of gardening is that plants require energy from the sun. While shade loving flowers do exist, many blooming plants are sun loving and need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. Plant them in a space that offers this to maximize their growth and health potential. The warmth of the sun will also inspire your plants’ flowers to unfurl, adding the largest, most colorful blooms to your garden.
Giving Plants Room to Stretch Out
When you’ve located a sunny spot and are planning your garden, consider your plant’s growth. Every plant has a maximum size capacity, and if you plant it in an area that is too small, you will increase the amount of work it takes to maintain your garden and reduce the potential for full blooms. If you plant several flowers near each other, also make sure that there is enough room between them for healthy growth. Much of the information about the size of a flowering plant can be found on the seed packet or a stick attached to younglings you’ll find in local greenhouses and gardening stores.
Water, Water, Water
Flowering plants are healthiest when they are watered appropriately. Give your flowers water whenever the soil is dry, but be careful not to saturate your plants. Keeping moisture toward the roots is the best way to promote growth and prevent leaf rot, so try to concentrate your water supply in this area by using a drip hose or other such irrigation methods. Adding a layer of mulch to your flower bed is another great way to help your flowers retain moisture during the growing season. Organic mulches such as shredded leaves, grass clippings, bark shavings or compost are ideal options.
Maintenance = Health and Growth
If you want to encourage plants to create the largest blooms, it is also important to develop a good maintenance routine. While some might consider this time consuming, with healthy plants, garden maintenance really shouldn’t require more than a few minutes a week and a couple of hours of more major work at the end of each growing season.
- Deadheading is an important part of maintaining the flowers in your garden and is especially beneficial for perennials. Deadheading means removing crumpling flowers so that they don’t continue to use your plant’s energy and provide more space for new flowers to bloom. This process also discourages the presence of unwanted pests and critters in your garden, making it easier to maintain your flowers without the need for pesticides.
- Disbudding is another way to encourage the growth of large flowers. With this method, a gardener removes all but one or two flower buds, before the buds open during the growing season. Disbudding encourages your plants to direct all their energy to a single bud and can increase the size and vibrancy of remaining flowers.
Gorgeous flowers require time, patience and persistence. It takes a bit of work to grow your own joyous and bright flowering garden, but if you’re willing to put in the work, the efforts will pay off in the form of a beautiful addition to any garden, and one that contributes to beautiful landscaping and a tranquil atmosphere you are certain to enjoy.