Planting flowers to bloom in each season gives a garden year-round interest. Using a variety of perennials, annuals and bulbs, combined with careful planning, delivers a constant supply of blooms. Even in northern climate zones, there are flower choices for each season. Consider bloom color, size and a plant’s requirements when deciding which seasonal flowers to plant.
Having a continuous display of color grabs attention and enhances the appearance of the landscape. The inclusion of different types of flowers in many sizes, shapes and colors improves the texture and appeal of the garden. Spacing and balancing bloom time with seasonal flowers provides a transition from season to season.
Overcrowding or poor placement affects the amount and quality of flowers. Appropriate spacing, based on mature size, gives the plants room to grow. Site choice planning includes soil conditions, and the amount of sun and wind. In general, flowers perform best in full sun, though light shade in the heat of summer protects the blooms. Fertile, well-drained soil is ideal. Amending the dirt with a 3- or 4-inch layer of compost improves soil conditions. Flowers need protection from the wind, especially taller varieties, so they remain erect.
Planting flowers to bloom in each season requires careful timing. Seeds need warm, moist soil to germinate. In most locations, spring is the best time to plant seeds. Perennials that flower in the spring or early summer do best planted in the fall so they have time to develop. Summer- and fall-flowering perennials do well planted either the previous fall or in spring. Bulbs and rhizomes are planted in the opposite season of their bloom time. Winter flowers get a better start if planted in the spring.
Winter blooming flowers include hellebores and snowdrop and crocus bulbs. Hellebores bloom from fall into early spring, depending on climate. Crocus and snowdrops appear in mid-winter. Spring brings an abundance of flowers with bulbs and perennials, such as tulip, hyacinth, creeping phlox, primrose and peony. Numerous plants bloom all through the summer: cleome, foxglove, meadowsweet, zinnia and liatris. The popular canna lily and dahlia begin their showy display in late summer, continuing into fall. In climates north of USDA hardiness zone 8a, the rhizomes need to be stored in a dark area with temperatures between 40 and 45 degrees F. Chrysanthemums and asters, which are classic fall flowers, bloom until frost and longer in warmer areas.
Seasonal flowers work well in any landscape design. Different design techniques include mass plantings, single-color beds and planting a rainbow. Winter flowers do better when planted in a sheltered location, such as the south side of a building. Mulch all flowers with 3 to 4 inches of material to prevent weeds and conserve moisture. It is important to know both the USDA hardiness zone for your area and in what zones a plant will survive. The southern half of the United States has more choices for continuous flowers.