Learning how to grow flowers in your apartment, townhouse, apartment, or house can make an entire season feel like a celebration. With a garden, you can enjoy everyday bursts of color and non-stop bouquets. In this article, Savana will provide a guide for gardening flowers for beginners. You can simply start with a patio planter or a small decorative garden next to a sidewalk or mailbox. It's not hard to build a larger cottage garden over time with a variety of flowers that will keep the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds buzzing in the garden.
Finding Reliable Sunshine
The first consideration in a garden is location. Do you have a spot that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day? Most plants need a steady stream of solar energy to stay healthy. If you don't get that much sun, you'll want to consider flowers that grow in the shade, such as impatiens or hosta.
Providing Good Soil
If you are using pots, make sure you fill them with a good quality potting soil, this is to retain the necessary moisture and encourage root growth.
If you're looking at a garden or larger landscaping project, start by evaluating your soil. Make sure it's not too sandy (and dries out quickly), and not too sticky clay (which can trap water and rotting roots).
You can improve the soil by adding organic matter so it drains better while also retaining moisture if needed. Also, test soil pH and fertility with an electronic soil tester to learn when and how to improve your soil.
Choosing Between Annuals and Perennials
Flower gardening can be a bit daunting for beginners, as there are hundreds of colorful lures in gardening catalogs or garden centers. Start by narrowing down your options. Do you want annuals, perennials, or both?
Annuals need to be replanted each year and will usually bloom throughout the season. Mix and match annuals with contrasting or complementary colors to create attractive window boxes, garden pots and hanging baskets.
Perennials typically bloom for two to three weeks during the growing season. They go dormant in winter and re-grow each spring, making them a great investment for large gardens or landscaping areas that you don't want to replant every year.
Start Annuals From Seed
If you want to see the joy of growing plants from seed, start with simple annuals. You can plant them directly in the garden following the directions on the seed package. If you want to prolong the time you'll see blooms, sow seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Then, transplant them outside. You can also buy annuals as seedlings to shorten the time it takes them to bloom.
Here are some of the easiest full-sun varieties for beginners:
- Morning glorys
Choose Seedlings for Perennials
If you want perennials to bloom for several years, your best bet is to buy horticultural plants or seedlings that lead in professional greenhouses. These seedlings should not have bloomed yet, but are at the tip of it. You want them blooming in your garden, not in a greenhouse.
Here are some of the best options for adding texture and color to your garden or landscape:
- Echinacea (aka coneflower)
- Ornamental grasses
- Butterfly bush
Mix and Match Your Garden
Many gardeners choose a combination of perennials and annuals. Perennials allow for larger standouts such as peonies, groups of irises and daylilies in key areas of the garden. Fill garden borders with easy-to-grow annuals such as petunias, marigolds, or gorse. Plant taller annuals such as carnations, sunflowers, and cosmos among larger perennials.
Planting in Containers
In northern climates, use only annuals in containers. You can plant them in spring and admire them until frost in fall. The living roots of potted perennials have a hard time surviving harsh winters without adequate protection.
However, in climates where cold winters are not an issue, some perennials may live in pots for years. In warmer climates, you can pot flowering annuals with perennials or foliage if they have compatible needs.
Taking Care of Flowers
To keep the flowers blooming throughout the season, water with at least 1 inch of water per week and use an all-purpose fertilizer as directed on the package. You may also need to keep calm -- pinch off dead blooms -- to encourage the plant to bloom more. Especially for perennials, dead spikes allow the plant to divert energy from producing seeds to increase plant strength. For perennials that require less maintenance, choose native plants that grow in your area and thrive without the help of a gardener.