How to Grow a Flower Garden

And Which Flowers to Grow?

February 12, 2019
Flower Bed Basics

Interested in planting a flower garden? Here are some planting tips for flower beds—plus, suggestions on which flowers to grow.

We all dream of a lush, lovely flower bed full of colorful blooms all season long. What we end up with is usually a different story. Does your color run out when the heat hits? Do the plants clash and give the impression of clown pants? Do the tall plants crowd out the short ones? Is it all looking shabby by late summer?

Sun and Soil

First assess your sun and soil. Once you know what you are dealing with you can select plants that will do well on your site. Think of your garden as a multi-layered community of plants.


A combination of bulbs, perennials, annuals, and shrubs will offer four season interest. Pay attention to heights. Even in a small garden there is room for short, medium, and tall plants.

Spring Bulbs

Spring-blooming bulbs offer the earliest color.


Snowdrops, tulips, daffodils, and crocus will get the party started!


Perennials offer a diversity of flowers and foliage and you only have to plant them once! By staggering the bloom times you can have color all season long. Once a perennial is done blossoming it still needs to look good. Plants with interesting foliage colors or textures will continue to add something to your garden even when not in bloom.


Perennial Plant Ideas

Consider some of these tried and true perennials: phlox, foxglove, daisies, cranesbill geraniums, reblooming daylilies, yarrow, coreopsis, sedum, heuchera, ladies’ mantle, and rudbeckias.

Look for native perennials if you want to make your garden a bee, butterfly, and hummingbird friendly habitat.


Some natives to include are: agastache, columbine, bee balm, coneflowers, asters, and asclepias.

See our Flower Growing Guides with popular flowers.

Annual Flowers

Annuals are great for bridging the gaps in the perennial garden. They will give you season-long color if kept deadheaded. Since they are not permanent additions to the garden, you can change them every year, giving your garden a new look.


Annual Flower Ideas

Here are some I can’t do without: cleome, verbena bonariensis, browallia, impatiens, zinnia ‘Profusion’, dahlias, calendula, cosmos, and nasturtiums.

Shrubs for Structure

Shrubs add needed structure and four season interest. In the frosty north, our gardens are covered by snow for months.


Shrub Ideas

Dwarf conifers, hedges, broadleaf evergreens, and shrubs with colorful bark or twisty shapes add winter interest.


Ones that also offer flowers, fruit, and fall color are welcome additions too.

Attention to maintenance will keep your garden looking fresh.

Tips for Planting a Flower Garden

  • When planting don’t crowd the plants. Even though it may look sparse at first, leave enough space for them to fill out naturally.
  • Water newly planted flowers and shrubs as needed until they become established. If you are not getting at least an inch of rain per week you will need to water regularly.
  • Mulch between plants to control weeds and conserve moisture.
  • Fertilize annuals every 2-3 weeks and feed perennials in the spring with a layer of compost or well-rotted manure.
  • Deadhead spent blossoms and don’t be afraid to trim back unruly or damaged stems.

This is a great time for planning your new flower garden. Even if space is at a premium in your yard, creativity is boundless!

Plan Your Flower Garden

Ready to plan your flower garden?  Our Garden Planner now has flowers, too!! Play around on your computer. We’re offering a free 7-day trial of the garden planner—ample time to plan a garden.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.