How to Choose the Right Flowers


Choosing flowers for a new flowerbed is an exciting, if daunting, process because the there are hundreds of varieties available. Before you begin, look at attractive yards in your neighborhood and visit a botanic garden. Certain color schemes and garden designs will appeal to you. Make notes of the elements you like and don't be afraid to ask neighbors the names of plants. Most likely, you'll choose annuals for potted and hanging plants and a combination of annuals, perennials and bulbs for flower gardens.

Step 1

Consider the conditions in your garden. How much sun does your garden receive each day? How moist is the garden naturally? What type of soil do you have? Your garden will be more successful if you choose plants that appreciate the conditions you naturally have instead of trying to artificially manipulate your garden setting.

Step 2

Research the benefits and drawbacks of annual flowers, perennials and bulbs. Annuals bloom most of the summer and are inexpensive to buy, but only live one year and must be replaced every spring. Perennials take time to become established and are a bit more expensive to purchase, but live for many years. Some grow well from seed. Bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and gladiolus are planted in the fall or spring (depending on the type of bulb) and live for many years. They are inexpensive and require little maintenance. Most gardeners plant perennials as the "backbone" of their garden, but fill in holes with annuals. Bulbs provide welcome color in early spring.

Step 3

Choose a color scheme for your flower garden. Cottage gardens look charming with a profusion of colors, but most gardeners prefer a simple color scheme, incorporating two or three different colors. Consider the color scheme of your house and choose flowers that complement those colors. For example, a flower garden comprised of lavender, pink and white flowers looks better next to a house painted cool gray than raucous reds and oranges.

Step 4

Select plants of varying heights and textures for a layered effect. Plant tall perennials such as Jupiter's Beard and delphinium at the back of your garden. Plant medium-sized plants such as coreopsis or lavender in the middle. Plant smaller plants such as impatiens or petunias in the front.

Step 5

Choose four or five plants that meet your criteria and plant them in mass groupings for a unified look. Too many plant varieties usually results in a messy, chaotic-looking garden.


  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Flower Garden Design Basics
  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 1988

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Flower Growing Guides
  • Cornell University Department of Horticulture: Using Color in Flower Gardens
Keywords: choosing flowers, growing flowers, planting flowers

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing professionally since 2001. She is a full-time freelance writer and former teacher with writing credits from several regional and national publications, such as Colorado Parent and LDS Living. She specializes in parenting, education and gardening topics. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College, and spent 20 years as a teacher and director in university and public school settings.