Flowering plants are the backbone of most garden designs and can be perennial, annual or biennial. Because different flowering plants bloom at different times of year, you can create a garden design that blossoms all year long, starting with crocus in the early winter and ending with winter-blooming camellias.
Perennials grow and bloom for many seasons after they are put in the garden. They may be evergreen, such as camellias, or lose their leaves and die back in the winter, such as salvia. Salvia, also known as common sage, has profuse, tall, spiked flowers that grow in shades of blues and lavenders to red and white. Dianthus "Bewitched" is a flowering perennial that has baby pink petals with a magenta ring around them. It is 8 inches in height and makes a good border flower or addition to a rock garden. All dianthus varieties have silvery-gray foliage and a spicy fragrance. Daylilies are flowering perennials that are also drought-tolerant. Their bright trumpet-shaped flowers come in colors from orange to maroon to yellow. Propagate daylilies by root division every three to four years.
Annuals are the flowering plants that most often brighten the summer garden. Their colors are intense in the summer, and the plants last for only one season. Flowering annuals include zinnia, marigolds, cosmos, ageratum, bachelor buttons and petunia. Calendulas are sometimes called pot marigolds. They bloom all summer long in gold, red and yellow. Periwinkle can bloom in partial shade and comes in colors ranging from pink to white to apricot. It is a compact plant that grows to 18 inches in height and has profuse blooming habits. Choose annuals as flowering plants where you want a blooming area of intense color for the summer. Find six-packs and half-flats of annuals at garden centers beginning in mid-spring.
Biennials take two years to complete their life cycles. During the first season, the plant uses its energy for green growth, and the flowers most often bloom in the second season. Foxglove is a well-known biennial flowering plant. The "Camelot Rose" cultivar has tall, stately spikes of trumpet-shaped pink flowers with maroon spots in the throat. Verbena, hollyhock and evening primrose are also biennial flowering plants. Hollyhock, which has more than 60 varieties, grows 6 to 8 feet in height. It is best used as a background flowering plant in an old-fashioned garden or for an English-cottage-garden look. Hollyhock reseeds itself and also attracts butterflies.