Gardeners have more flowers to choose from each year thanks to the ever increasing number of hybrids available and the growing interest in reviving heirloom varieties favored years ago. Keep enhancing your garden areas with traditional, hardy standbys, but peruse updated selections and try cultivating some of those that capture your interest. Pay close attention to hardiness levels and growth requirements so that the plants you buy will thrive optimally in your area.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, there are more than 200 species of the garden geranium (genus Pelargonium) and many hybrids. Their varied colors and sizes make them popular choices for container and bed gardening. For most varieties, the flowers grow atop tall stems, but some feature trailing stems and are well suited to hanging baskets. Flowers come in colors ranging from fuschia and soft lavender to pink and white, with double-flower varieties and old-fashioned singles. Some varieties have scented foliage. Plant geraniums outdoors after all danger of frost has passed in well-drained soil and full sun. Keep them in containers and bring them inside in the winter for survival the following year.
According to Texas A&M University, these flowers were given their name by Spanish priests in Mexico, who admired their evenly spaced petals. "Cosmos" is the Greek word for harmony. Some varieties grow up to 7 feet tall. Lacy foliage sets off blooms that come in colors ranging from light pink to bright orange. Two annual species are most commonly grown in gardens. Grow cosmos in well-drained soil and in full sun.
These short-lived perennials are native to the eastern United States but now grow throughout North America, in cultivated gardens and in the wild. The state flower of Maryland, black-eyed Susans are stiff, upright plants with daisy-like flowers. Flower petals are a bright yellow and surround a dark seeded center that wildlife such as butterflies and birds flock to. Plant black-eyed Susans in well-drained, moist soil and in full sun. They bloom from June through August and grow up to 3 feet tall.
This flowering annual grows up to 2 feet tall. These bushy plants' erect stems are topped by clover-like flowerheads; they bloom from summer until the first fall frost. Globe amaranths come in shades of white, pink and purple and can be dried for long-lasting arrangements. Grow these Central American natives in full sun and in well-drained soil. They are drought-tolerant, but keep them moderately watered.
This European native was introduced to America as a cultural species, but now grows wild in many areas. Gardeners favor it for its low, compact, lush foliage and particularly for its tiny, bell-shaped white flowers that have a strong but pleasing fragrance. The blooms are often used in wedding bouquets. Grow this perennial in partial shade and in moist, rich, well-drained soil. Keep plants in check each year, as they spread via rhizomes.