Types of Flowers
When I was 10 years old, I found a very strange seed pod in our
flower bed. I broke it off, took it inside and asked my mom what it was. She scratched her head and said "I don't honestly know." I asked if I could take it to school next day to see if my new science teacher would know. Permission granted, I carefully packed it in my book bag and wiggled and squirmed my way through 2 classes before - finally... science class rolled around. I didn't even let the teacher begin the class... I walked up to her desk, took the seed pod and carefully handed it over to her with the question..."What kind of flower is this from?"
She looked it over, asked me where I'd got it from, asked everyone in the class if they'd ever seen one before, and when the answer was a big negative, pronounced that I should ask my mother, because she surely didn't know what it was! Thus began my immersion into the world of "catch 22", but more importantly, my interest in flowers and the wonders thereof! The seed pod, by the way, was from an oriental poppy. When I got home from school that day, I broke open the pod and sprinkled the seeds all over the flower bed - much to the dismay of my mother the next summer! The resulting flowers were beautiful and we enjoyed them for many years after.
There are so many varieties of flowers to choose from for your flower garden... it's almost limitless. What I'll cover on this page is the basics of annuals, biennials, perennials, flowering shrubs, and bulbs. If you are adventurous, plant a few of every type of flower so as to ensure continuous blooms from early spring to the first killing frost.
**NOTE** First you'll need to find your plant hardiness zone so you know what plants will survive in your location. Click on the following links to connect to interactive Hardiness Zone Maps that zoom-in to your area.
*Annuals - These flowers complete their life cycle in one year and need to be replanted from seed or bedding plants each year. Annuals are most useful for window boxes and container planting as you can remove the dead plants in the fall, refresh the soil and start over with new plants the
next spring. They are great fillers for your flower garden as you can get immediate foliage and colour from nursery bedding plants - or plant seeds to get a profusion of annuals throughout the spring and summer. Deadhead or groom your flowers regularly to ensure continuous blooms throughout the summer. Deadheading simply means pinching, or snapping off the dead/wilted blooms on the plant. This ensures that the plants' energy does not go into making seeds
but instead, produces new flowers to replace the ones that
have just died out. Deadheading also cleans up the look of your plants and keeps them fresh looking all summer long. A personal recommendation would be to start your annuals from seed right in the place you want your flowers to grow. Generally speaking, 60% seeded and 40% nursery plants would be a good way to get your flower bed off to a good start. More...
*Biennials - Biennials are often lumped together with annuals in many plant listings, thus there is a bit of confusion about plant care when those biennials don't bloom the first year! You may wonder what in the world you did, or didn't do to prevent your plants from flowering. Don't worry... your biennials will bloom... but not until the second growing season!
Biennials can be started from seed and will grow a strong healthy plant the first year with flowers coming on the plants the second year. Sow seeds every year to get continuous yearly blooms. Includes pansies, foxglove, sweet william, evening primrose, black eyed Susan, salvia, hollyhock, money plant, painted lady rose, Canterbury bells, English daisies, forget-me-nots, etc. Treat biennials the same as you would annuals, although in most cases, they are much tougher than annuals. When planting from seeds, be sure to follow the instructions on the back of the seed packets for planting depth, location, etc. Again, a little bone meal sprinkled around the plants will promote strong root growth and healthy plant structure to provide for the following years blooms.
* Perennials - To make your gardening life easier, be sure to plant some perennials. These are plants that stay in the ground all year round, come back each year from the roots, and will provide many years of enjoyment if cared for properly. In the fall these plants die back to the rootstock, which survives the frost. Tender perennials may need to be dug up and brought inside in the fall, or heavily mulched for winter protection. Many perennials benefit from dividing the plant up occasionally, thus keeping your main plant from dying out and providing you with additional plants for your flower garden. You shouldn't need to
divide your perennials
for at least 3 - 5 years, but when flowering decreases significantly, or the plant starts to die out in the center, then divide you must!
You'll have a wide selection of perennial flowers and plants to choose from - not only is there a vast array of tall and short perennials, ground covers, and shade lovers, but there are also those that provide colourful foliage to enhance the vibrant hues of flowering plants, as well as those that bloom at different months of the year. Do a little bit of homework and have fun making "wish lists" of all the perennials you'd like to have in your landscape. Flower bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, etc., are considered perennials. More...
*Flowering Shrubs - Include flowering shrubs for a quick and easy way to add pizzazz to your landscape while enjoying the benefits of low-maintenance and long lasting form. Shrubs are "FFF" plants - fruit, flowers and foliage and includes currants, Blueberries, grapes, gooseberries, viburnum, roses, lilac, azalea, quince, forsythia, spirea, dogwood, rhododendron, cotoneaster, hydrangea, burning bush, etc. Because many dwarf varieties of
cherry trees don't grow very tall, have beautiful flowers and bear fruit, I'm going to include them in with the flowering shrubs, for now.
Generally speaking, all shrubs need plenty of sunshine, good air circulation and fertile soil with good drainage. The exception to the "plenty of sunshine" rule is Rhododendrons and Azaleas, which both like partial shade and prefer slightly acidic soil. More...
Bulbs - The great majority of bulbs are planted in the fall for spring and summer bloom time. Once planted you can expect continuous blooms year after year with very little maintenance, except for clearing away dead foliage after the bulbs have bloomed and faded. Just like us, bulbs need a little food now and then, and a good bulb specific fertilizer is needed to ensure continued blooms, year after year. Encompasses tulips, daffodils, alliums, muscari, fritillaries, glory-of-the-snow, caladium, oxalis, pineapple lilies, and many
Tubers, Rhizomes, Corms - Tubers and tuberous roots encompass dahlias, ranunculus and begonias. Rhizomes include irises, cannas, and callas. Corms include gladiolas, crocus and freesia. For the sake of simplicity, we'll class these as "bulbs" when referring to them in further articles. Again, don't forget to fertilize your bulbs with flower specific fertilizer to ensure continuous blooming year after year. You will be rewarded with healthier, larger bulbs and blooms. Take note that Canna's and Calla's are not winter tolerant in northern climates... they have to be dug up and brought inside. More...
Bone Meal - After planting annual seeds or bedding plants, a little bone meal sprinkled on top of the soil will promote healthy root growth. Too much bone meal is NOT a good thing - You only need a small sprinkling for your annuals... they are not trees... they are not shrubs... they do not need much! One half teaspoonful of bone meal per annual plant is more than enough. Once your seeds and/or nursery plants are in the ground and you've sprinkled the bone meal around, water your annuals in well. When you notice the bone meal has disappeared, reapply.
Watering - Once your planting is done, do not let the soil dry out or it will really stress your new bedding plants and as well slow down germination of your seeds. Be vigilant with watering on hot summer days to help get your plants well established... watering in the morning is the best time of the day. If you have a very hot, dry summer, check your flower beds on a daily basis to ensure enough moisture in the soil to sustain plant health. Wind will also dry the soil out a great deal, so if your flower beds are in a wind path, just be a little more diligent with watering chores so your annuals will not get too distressed. Be careful about over-watering also, especially if you're getting lots of rainfall... you don't want your plants to drown either!
Some annuals are tougher than others, and it won't be long before you know which plants do well in the location you've put them in. If you find your annual flowers are continually drooping in spite of good watering and fertilizing, dig them up and put them in a less windy, and/or more sheltered spot. See how they do. Read the plant instruction tags that are on the
back of seed packets, or that come with your bedding plants. Follow the advice given for planting depth and spacing, sun/shade requirements, pruning, etc. When all else fails, remember the gardeners motto..."Trial and Error"!
Acclimatizing - When buying bedding plants from a reputable nursery, it is not necessarily the fault of the nursery if your plants fail... they don't have control over what you do with those plants after you get them home - where you place them, how you care for them... chances are, the conditions you are bringing your new flowers into are quite different from what those plants have gotten used to (i.e., greenhouse to outdoors). If you discover upon getting the plants home that they are diseased or infested, then Yes, the nursery should replace them and usually will, but you should return them right away if that is the case. Be prepared to give your plants time to adjust to their new conditions and remember that it will take at least two to three weeks for your new plants to settle in and start thriving. A common occurrence with
hanging baskets is flower-drop... some or all of their flowers may just fall off within days of getting the basket home... but be patient... if you care for them properly, those blooms will reappear, you just need to give them enough time to set new buds... it won't hurt to give the basket a tiny bit of fertilizer during this time for a little boost. Your new annuals may droop for a few days until they readjust to their new home ... again... Patience, patience, patience... they will normally recover with the recommended care... they are just experiencing what is commonly called "shock"...
One last note: Annual bedding plants should not be planted outside (in the spring) until after the last killing frost date for your area. Have a look at the zone map to find your zone and frost dates. If you experience a very cold spring, then watch your local weather forecast for frost warnings even after the last expected frost date - if a late frost is expected, then cover your annuals if already planted in a flower bed, or bring them inside if in planters or hanging baskets!!! Better to be safe than sorry!
Even the most unskilled gardener can create a beautiful garden with bulbs. There are not many flowers that are easier to grow or more colourful, than bulbs. More...
Distinguishing annuals from biennials and perennials is no small feat, especially with the development of new cultivars. Excellent information, with pictures of flowers along with their scientific and common names. More...
A true biennial will grow a strong healthy plant from seed in the first year, but not flower until the next growing season. Pansies, Foxglove, English Daisy, Forget-me-not and Sweet William are the most familiar. Keep in mind that many writers group some biennials with Annuals, and others group them with Perennials. More...
Perennials last for years... plant once, enjoy over and over. For specific information on perennial plants and flowers, check out the Virginia Cooperative Extension and also University of Missouri Both offer a wealth of information on perennial gardening.
Knowing when and how to plant different flower types, can create a dilemma for the novice gardener. Here are a few gardening tips from Horticulture departments in state universities.
My Favourite Garden Merchants
Michigan Bulb Company.
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Spring Hill Nurseries - $20 off your first order!
Perennials, Shrubs and Roses, Roses, Roses...This is the company I would buy them from! Spring Hill specialize in perennials and you can be assured of great quality products.
Gurney's Seed and Nursery Co.
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Gurneys seed and nursery is one of the largest horticultural catalog companies in the country. We have a full array of live plants, seeds, bulbs, trees, shrubs and gardening tools and supplies.
For the highest quality flower bulbs, plants and seeds at the lowest prices, visit bloomingbulb.com.
"It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not." ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936
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The Corner Store
"Designed Garden, Cutting 6 packets, 9 markers, designs"
A summer-long garden, giving a
fabulous nonstop supply of annuals for cutting, right up to frost! Seeds can be
sown directly in the garden. 20 ft x 9 ft. Burpee Exclusive. Package Includes: 9
packets of seed, 11 plant markers, planting instructions, garden plan. Seed
"Stock Harmony Purple 1 Pkt. (200 seeds)"
One sniff of the stock's
luxuriant fragrance and you will be utterly enchanted. With its romantic shade
of deep rose purple, and haunting sweet scent, this stock has a Victorian,
English country house aura. Perfect for early cutting, with slender spikes
densely loaded with fully double flowers.
"Sunflower Collection, Sunflower Favorites 6 Pkts."
The ultimate sunflower
show! 6 of our best and brightest, ready to plant and grow. You get 6 packets, 1
each of: American Giants Chianti Cappuccino Jade Strawberry Blonde Double Dandy
Easy and amazing color to brighten any sunny space
"Zinnia, Purple Prince 1 Pkt. (50 seeds)"
A royal addition to your palette of zinnia colors. This zinnia's intense rosy
purple projects a purity of color that charms and delights the eye. Growing
vigorously up to 3 ft tall, 'Purple Prince' stays showy even under the rainiest
"Zinnia, Tequila Lime 1 Pkt. (50 seeds)"
Large, bright zinnias in a citrusy, delectable shade of green. You will marvel
at the clear, crisp green of these large, perfectly rounded flowers. Growing up
to 3" in diameter, the bright, zippy blooms will give your garden a lime-like