Gardeners in the Midwest are generally blessed with fertile soil and long, warm summers---in some regards, a gardener's paradise. However, those humid, hot summers promote disease and a hefty amount of plant-munching insects as well. If that's not enough to discourage you, frigid winter temperatures heave plants from the ground, and freeze tender roots. Choose plants with a proven track record in your area by visiting nurseries, botanical gardens and even your neighbors' yards.
Consult your local extension office to find out what plants grow well in your region. Most of the Midwest lies between USDA Hardiness Zones 3 and 6, but there may be wide climatic variances within your community, and even within your own yard. Your local extension office offers advice on the plants that tend to grow well throughout your community.
Assess your site. Does your flower garden sit in a sunny or shady site? Is it protected from Midwestern winds by trees or buildings? How much moisture does the site naturally receive and is the soil loam, sand, clay or a combination? Choose plants that prefer your site's natural conditions and you'll have healthy, hearty plants that require minimal care.
Minimize the diseases and pests that plague Midwestern flower gardeners. Water plants in the morning and only water the base of the plant, not the leaves. Leave 4 to 6 inches around each plant to allow air to freely circulate. Provide optimal watering, sun and soil conditions for the plants you choose so they're healthy. Healthy plants are better able to fight disease.
Select disease-resistant plants including aster, bee balm, geranium, phlox, black-eyed Susan and sage. Also, look for plants that tolerate intense heat and humidity. Some good choices are Russian sage, heliopsis, butterfly weed and boltonia.
Research the advantages of perennials, annuals and bulbs and decide which you'd like to grow in your garden. Many gardeners prefer a combination of all three. Perennials are the most expensive initially and mature slowly, but will provide you with blooms for many years to come. Annuals are replaced every year, but bloom the same year they are planted. Bulbs are planted in early fall or late spring, depending on the type of bulb. They provide years of gorgeous color and are often the first flowers to emerge in spring. Summer-blooming bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolus appreciate the Midwest's warm, humid summers.