A flower garden can be as simple or extravagant as time and space allows. Flowers create color in the garden and provide an atmosphere that can lift your spirits and help beautify an entire neighborhood. Whether you are gardening on a large scale or small, there are a few things to know that can help make your flower garden a beautiful and colorful focal point in the landscape.
Know Your Zone
Knowing what horticultural zone you live in is important for flower garden success. Some flowers cannot grow in excessive heat or cold. A horticultural zone is a zone designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that designates the coldest area a plant can tolerate. The lower the zone number, the colder the area a plant can grow. For example, a plant appropriate for zone 7 will struggle in zone 6 or zone 5.
Choose the Best Plants
Annual flowers live one or two seasons, set seed and die completely. However, they are readily available in the nursery trade, grow quickly, add plenty of color and are easy to grow. Zinnias, snapdragons and cosmos are examples of easy-to--grow annuals.
Perennials die back during the winter or heat of the summer but return when weather conditions are favorable. Perennials may eventually need to be dug up and divided to prevent overcrowding that can lead to a decrease in bloom production. Otherwise, they are usually tolerant of some neglect. Examples are rudbeckia, coneflower and garden phlox.
Weeds rob your flower garden of nutrients and moisture. Hand-pull weeds for organic control. Herbicides can kill flowers by overspray and soil contamination. Apply a 3-inch thick layer of mulch over bare garden areas and around the root zone of plants for weed control. In perennial flower beds, permeable landscape cloth and cover with mulch for further protection against weeds.
Fertilizing Your Garden
Contact a county agricultural extension agent to find out how to test your soil for nutrients it may need for a successful flower garden. This step is important because you don't want to add anything that can build up in the soil and kill your plants. For example, phosphorous is commonly found in most balanced fertilizers but quickly builds up in the soil to toxic levels, while nitrogen and potassium leach out over time. Too much nitrogen creates heavy green growth at the expense of flower production.
Sun or shade
Most flowering plants produce more blooms in areas that receive at least six hours of sun per day. Flowering plants that thrive in sun usually prefer morning sun. Knowing the sun and shade requirements of your flowering plants--and planting them in the right spot--greatly increases your chances of success.