Flowers add bursts of vibrant color to any backyard landscape. With hundreds of species and varieties to choose from, a gardener can plant a rainbow palette that keeps the eyes entertained all year. Several management strategies and tips can help maximize your success when planting and growing flowers outdoors.
Site and Flower Pairings
Choose flowers that can handle the level of sunlight in your backyard. Most perennial and annual flowers grow best in full sun, according to Purdue University. When it comes to shady environments, it's typically easier to choose a flower plant that can grow in the specific area than trying to modify the amount of sunlight or shade by using trellises, shade cloth or selective tree pruning. The University of Illinois has extensive online directories of perennials and annuals and their light requirements (see Resources).
All flower species have different soil needs, but most grow well in loose, well-drained soil. Gardeners can boost their flower plant's health by mixing in several inches of aged compost. This increases the level of organic material in the dirt and also helps the soil hold moisture. For plant-specific fertilization needs, consult the nursery or garden store that sold you the plant or seeds. Generally, a fertilizer that's high in phosphorous and low in nitrogen will encourage greater blossom production. Over-fertilizing will cause a drop in flower growth and an increase in unwanted foliage growth, according to Purdue University.
Planting flowers directly in the ground isn't the only option for outdoor flower enthusiasts. Containers let gardeners arrange flowers in a portable fashion, taking advantage of moving light or limited yard space. Iowa State University recommends clay pots, though any type of container will suffice. For the best results, fill the pot with equal parts of vermiculite, peat moss and garden loam, according to Purdue University. This creates a loose, well-draining medium for the flowers.
All perennial and annual flowers, regardless of species, benefit from heavy mulching. Mulch materials include weed-free straw, shredded leaves and trimmings from a mowed lawn. Gardeners should stack the mulch to a depth of 2 to 4 inches, according to Purdue University. This sufficiently blocks weed growth and keeps precious moisture from evaporating. Mulch also shields perennial flower plants during the winter. When used in this manner, pile the mulch to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.