Flowers are one of the rewards of gardening, the beautiful result of all your hard work. The annuals and perennials that provide both color and texture to garden beds come in all shades and a wide variety of shapes. Success with these plants starts with matching the plant to the conditions in your yard. Then you can master the skills of watering, fertilizing and weeding.
Matching Plant To Place
Plants do a great job of growing themselves if you give them the conditions they prefer. Put a shade-loving plant in the sun, and you'll get yellow, burned leaves. Put a sun-loving plant in the shade, and you get long, straggly stems and no flowers. Soil pH and texture are also factors that plants have preferences about. Know your own garden and use the plants that will thrive there.
Designing A Flower Bed
Gardens are one of the few art forms that change over time, providing a continual challenge to your ingenuity. A core of perennials, plants that come back year after year but rarely bloom for more than three weeks, will give you continuity. Then add annual plants, the ones that bloom all summer but die in winter, for plenty of color. You can create certain beds that have pastels or cool colors, and separate ones for warm colors to make color harmonies easier, or you can create a mixture of many colors with plenty of green leaves to help them blend together.
Start with loose, airy soil to pamper the roots, then top with a mulch of fine bark or bagged steer manure to keep weeds from sprouting. Water deeply but let the soil dry to the touch before watering again. If weeds appear, remove them while they're still small. Fertilize with a pelleted slow release fertilizer or a few applications of granular fertilizer, always sticking with the directions on the box. Remove old flowers before they set seed to keep your plants blooming.
Allow space here and there for planting tulips, daffodils, crocus and other bulbs you'll find at nurseries in the fall. Some of the easiest of flowers, they go into the ground brown and dry, then appear like magic the next spring when your flower garden seems bare.
Preparing For Winter
Remove any disease foliage at the end of the season and put it in the garbage so it won't infect any plants next year. Cut down the brown stalks and leaves, then add a mulch of straw or compost to insulate the ground and keep weeds from sprouting.