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Flowers feed our hearts and souls. When you plant a flower garden, it’s a gift to yourself, as well as the visiting pollinators and birds. Wandering through your garden to explore what’s in bloom, what’s changed since yesterday, and what the bees and butterflies are doing is a peaceful and uplifting experience. And the most beautiful flowers are the ones snipped from your own cutting garden and displayed lovingly throughout your home.
Choosing what flowers to plant is strictly personal preference. Think about the aesthetic you love: The informal rambling look of a cottage garden? The naturalized appearance of a meadow garden? The warmth and vitality of a Mediterranean garden? A practical and pretty potager? Or maybe you love them all equally! The goal of any garden should be to celebrate the arrival of every season with beautiful flowers you love.
When choosing your plants, pay attention to their needs. Full sun means six or more hours of direct sunlight, while part sun is about half that. Shade means there’s no direct sunlight, or only morning sun. Also, make sure perennials, which return for many years, are suited to survive winters in your USDA Hardiness zone (find yours here).
It would be impossible to include every beautiful flower in the world in our list, but these are some of our easy-care favorites you can grow in your garden.
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There are more than 7,000 registered varieties of these striking perennials! With sword-like foliage and flowers that range in heights from a few inches tall to up to five feet tall, there’s an iris for every garden. Bearded irises have elongated tufts of hairs that look like tiny beards on the large colorful flower. Give these perennials full sun.
These lovely flowers bloom in early to mid-spring; they have the most intricate and interesting blooms. Give these perennials morning sun and a little afternoon shade in hot climates.
These bold, sunny-faced flowers come in colors and sizes ranging from a foot to 15 feet tall. Plant seeds directly in ground or in pots in full sun over the course of a few weeks for a longer bloom time. Of course, they need plenty of sun to bloom.
This annual vine is an old-fashioned favorite that adds cottage style to your garden as they climb up a trellis or obelisk. They’re easily grown from seed, but plant in early spring because they don’t tolerate heat well and will fade by early summer. Some types are especially sweetly scented. Give them full sun.
Dahlias are some of the most magnificent flowers you can grow. They come in forms ranging from tiny balls to dinner-plate sized blooms. The colors and detail are astounding! Plant the tubers in spring in full sun after all danger of frost has passed. In cold climates, you’ll need to dig up the bulbs in fall after the first frost to save for next year.
Nasturtiums have rounded leaves and flowers that climb or mound, making them ideal additions to window boxes or tumbling over walls. These annuals come in colors ranging from peach and coral to red and rose and will bloom all season until a hard frost. Plant them in full sun. Bonus: Both the leaves and flowers are edible, so add them to salads for a spicy kick.
This shrubby perennial offers lush, exuberant flowers in late spring. There are many different varieties, some of which are strongly scented. Give them plenty of sun, and they’ll be happy and thrive for decades. Don’t worry about the ants; they’re just visiting to sip the nectar and won’t hurt the plant.
Hyacinths have individual teeny-tiny florets that make up the flower spike. Their strong, sweet scent is a sure sign spring has arrived in earnest. Plant the bulbs in full sun in the fall for flowers the following spring. They’re a good choice if you have digging rodents in your garden, such as chipmunks, because they tend to leave these bulbs alone.
These stunning shade-lovers, also known as Lenten rose, bloom in mid- to late winter. Their exquisite blooms and evergreen foliage make them eye-catching in any season. They’re extremely cold-hardy and deer- and rodent-resistant.
This old-fashioned favorite is a must-have in cottage gardens with its elegant, informal spires of pink, purple or white blossoms. They grow to five feet tall and make lovely bouquets or dried flowers. There are both annual and perennial types—both prefer full sun.
Tulips come in every shade you can imagine and bloom in early, mid- or late spring, depending on the variety. Some have double petals so they look more like peonies, while others have ruffled blooms that make them appear quite exotic. Plant the bulbs in full sun in the fall for spring blooms. They’re typically treated as annuals because their bloom power fades in subsequent years.
Roses come in a staggering number of forms, colors, and varieties, and they’re not as fussy as some people believe. From tiny little shrub roses to climbing roses that ramble with abandon over fences or walls, roses deserve a spot in every garden. Shrub roses are the easiest for beginners. Give all roses full sun to thrive.
These romantically named flowers have dainty, star-like blooms and lacy foliage in rose, white or sky blue. The charming blossoms turn into papery little lanterns that can be dried for arrangements. This annual grows easily from seed; it needs full sun.
Ranunculus almost don’t look real with their ethereal, papery blooms in every color you can imagine. They’re especially lovely as cut flowers. Bulbs should be planted in spring or fall, depending on where you live, and they’ll need to be dug up for the winter in cold climates. Give ranunculus full sun.
These funny-faced darlings of cool weather have the most adorable flowers in saturated pinks and oranges, creamy white, or pastels such as pink and purple. They don’t mind cool weather and grow equally well in spring or fall. Although they may fade out in summer’s heat, trim them back and they may rebound when cooler weather returns.
The exotic-looking flowers of this annual are amazing draping over the edges of hanging baskets. They come in white, pink, red or purple and need mostly shade or just a tiny bit of morning sun. Hummingbirds adore them!
These gorgeous flowers have delicate-looking blooms from late summer until a frost. They’re a little tricky to grow from seed, so purchase plants instead.
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