How to Choose the Right Flowers to Plant


The wealth of available plants at the garden center presents an overwhelming challenge to the beginning gardener. So many choices create a problem that requires a little planning to limit expense. Learning how to choose the right flowers to plant begins with analysis of the planting site and deciding the amount of maintenance needed to sustain a healthy plant. Designing a garden also involves considerations such as flower color, plant height and width as well as foliage texture and color.

Step 1

Base your initial decision on the right flowers for location on the amount of available sunlight. Monitor the movement of the sun at the garden location through the course of a day. Full sun sites experience six or more hours of direct sun each day. Partial sun and partial shade areas require between three to four hours of sunlight each day. Shade flowers prefer less than two hours of sun each day, with early morning or late afternoon working best for this type of plant.

Step 2

Take a soil sample and visit a garden center or nursery for analysis. Enhancing the soil promotes healthier flowers and foliage. Soil analysis allows the gardener to precisely add soil amendments such as compost, peat, sand and lime to boost the quality of the soil.

Step 3

Decide on what type of plants you prefer. Annuals require planting every year--this type of flowering plant goes from seed to mature plant in the course of one growing season. Perennial flowers bloom for a two- to three-week period and provide foliage interest in the garden the rest of the growing season. Perennials die off in the fall and reappear the following spring.

Step 4

Visit the garden center to examine the offered plants. Nurseries select plants native to the area as well as those that appeal to customers. Each plant comes with a printed label containing a wealth of planting information. Examine these labels for information about all types of growing requirements as well as mature plant size. Ask questions at the nursery to help you choose the right flowers to plant.

Step 5

Match selections to the exact growing conditions in your landscape. Keep in mind the mature height of the plant, different viewing angles of the garden and the potential spread of a plant. Choosing annuals provides immediate color in the garden, so select and plant annuals in groups of three for good impact. Select a variety of perennials with different blooming times to generate continual color in the garden. Mix annuals and perennials in a single garden to reap the benefits of both plants in your landscape.

Things You'll Need

  • USDA hardiness zone map


  • Penn State University: Selecting and Planting Annuals for a Colorful Garden
  • University of Arizona: Selecting your Plants

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: choosing flowers, flower choices, picking garden flowers

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.