Blooming annual zinnia.
image by S.F. Heron
Everyone loves the blooms of perennials and annuals filling a garden bed. Admiring these flowers in professionally designed gardens or the neighbor's yard fills the gardener with envy and impetus to create a thing of beauty as well. Learning how to select flowers for a garden involves honing basic gardening techniques. Although selecting flowers isn't hard, it does require careful planning for success. A variety of factors play into whether a plant will succeed or fail in a garden. Select the right flowers to create a successful, beautiful garden for any location.
Observe the daily sun availability in your garden plot. The most basic requirement for a flower is light. Some plants thrive in full sun that provides six or more hours of sunlight each day. Others do well in partial sun-shade with four to six hours daily. Full shade plants receive dappled shade through tree branches. Deep shade involves no direct sunlight, often occurring near buildings and under dense tree canopies.
Fill a plastic container with soil by digging down 6 inches with a shovel and collecting the sample. Take this sample to your local garden center for evaluation. All plants have different requirements in soil composition. The results of this sample will give you a good idea of the quality of your soil, which amendments need to be added and which plants to choice for that environment. Soil pH determines exactly how a plant can absorb nutrients and water from the soil.
Visit the local nursery and keep a list in your notebook of favorite plants. Each plant pot contains a label or tab that includes light, soil, space and water requirements. These tabs also include instructions for the best planting techniques as well as bloom times for the flowers.
Choose an array of flowers that bloom at various times to provide lasting, continual color throughout your garden. Selections should be made using plants that will tolerate climate conditions in your area (see the USDA Hardiness Zone Map). Annuals provide consistent color when planted after the last frost. Perennials have varying bloom times throughout the growing season with the added benefit of returning to bloom again the following year.
Select healthy plants with strong stems and dense foliage. Avoid plants with spent blooms or those that show browning around the leaf edges. Press your fingers into the soil of nursery planting containers to check for moisture level. The soil should be evenly moist throughout the container. Any dryness indicates poor daily care.