How to Identify Garden Flowers


Flowers can be identified by researching their physical and biological characteristics. Spending time examining different flowers in your garden, may also help you to identify flowers common to your region. Bursting with color and scent, flowering plants (angiosperms) are the most common type of plant in the animal kingdom.

Step 1

Determine whether the flowering plant is an annual or perennial, herbaceous, deciduous or evergreen. Annuals are plants that last one growing season, such as impatiens or zinnias. Perennials are plants that last more than one season. To tell the difference examine the plant roots. Annuals have compact root systems, while perennials have deeper roots. Perennials also can be herbaceous, deciduous or evergreen. Deciduous plants are often considered "woody" plants. Examine the stems of shrubs, such as habiscus.

Step 2

Examine the leaves for identifying characteristics. Leaves can be simple, one undivided blade or compound, with a fragmented blade that breaks off into leaflets. Leaves can also be serrated, lobed, linear or have many other characteristics. Some plants are easily identified by their leaves. For example, a daffodil has simple leaves that shoot out from the root base like grass.

Step 3

Use a magnifying glass and take a close look at the petals of the flower. Flowering plants are divided into two classes: monocots or dicots, which have different characteristics from embryo parts to root development. But for the purpose of plant identification, it's important to note that monocots have flower petals in multiples of threes (canna, daylily.) Dicots have petals in multiples of four or five (carnations, daisies.)

Step 4

Examine the entire flower. Stems, leaves and petals can help you identify a flowering plant. A good reference book will guide you in identifying common garden flowers. Other biological characteristics and terms used are: Complete: Flowers that have sepals, petals, stamens and pistils (tulips, lily.) Incomplete: Flowers that are missing one or more of sepals, petals, stamens or pistils (poinsettia) Perfect: Flowers with both pistals and stamens (lily, rose, orchid.) Imperfect: Flowers missing either a pistal or stamen (begonia.) Composites: Flowers with blooms made up of many tiny flowers within a flower (daisies, sunflowers.)

Tips and Warnings

  • Be careful of thorns and insects such as bees when examining flowers.

Things You'll Need

  • Flower reference guide
  • Magnifying glass


  • "The Flower Gardeners Bible." Lewis Hill and Nancy Hill; 2005.
Keywords: monocot garden flower, identify flowering plant, perennials flower types

About this Author

Carmel Perez Snyder is a freelance writer living in Florida. She attended the University of Missouri and has been a journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in the AARP Bulletin, the Oklahoma Gazette, the Amarillo Globe-News, and eHow.