The warm summer days and cool winter climate in much of the state of Georgia offer great environment for a garden. Plants and flowers fall into two groups: annuals and perennials. While annuals die after one season of growth, perennials fade away at the end of the growing season, then spring back to life the following year. Perennials work well as permanent plants while annuals help add areas of color to the garden for a season.
When selecting perennials for a garden, begin by making sure they fit your USDA hardiness zone so the plant does not die during the winter. Georgia consists of several zones: the southern and south-central part of the state fall into hardiness zone 8. A tiny portion of the northeast falls into zone 6, and the rest of the state falls into zone 7. Most annuals available in the state grow in all hardiness zones as long they are planted in spring after the threat of frost has passed.
When selecting flowers and plants, consider the varieties available and how they fit in the design of the garden. Plants grow to a range of heights and widths as well as colors. Consider planting annuals to add color and texture for a few months. Shorter plants work better as ground covers while taller plants work best in the background with smaller plants in front. Some plants require full sun while others tolerate and even thrive in full shade.
The type of soil plays an important role in what plants work best. Some plants tolerate poorly drained soil while others refuse to grow there. Start working the soil by tilling it to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Add organic matter to soils that appear sandy. Organic matter helps provide plants with the nutrients they need while also improving water-holding capacity. It the soil consists of heavy clay, add sand or coarse bark to improve drainage.
Many flowers and plants grow from seeds. Nurseries also carry a variety of small plants in containers ready for transplanting. Dig a hole deep enough so the crown of the plant rests at the surface of the soil. If the crown is planted too deeply, it may rot and die. Once plants are in the ground and the hole refilled with dirt, water thoroughly to help them get established in their new home.
Most flowers and plants require regular watering, with extra water applied during periods of drought. To help preserve moisture, add several inches of mulch around the plants; mulch also helps control weeds. Consider applying a 10-10-10 fertilizer in the early spring and at least once or twice during the summer. To encourage new growth and flowers to bloom, remove mature, dying flowers. In late fall, before the first hard frost, add a layer of mulch, leaves or straw over perennial flowers to help protect them from cold days.