Growing flowers is relatively easy but can get expensive if you haven’t done your research. The priority before getting started is identifying and preparing a space for the flowers and then deciding which ones to buy.
The biggest mistake that most beginners make is running to the nearest nursery in March and purchasing an overflowing cart full of six packs of flowers based on their color and their shape. Keep in mind, nurseries are presenting their spring flowers to start and will start offering summertime flowers in May. If you don’t know the difference between spring, summer and fall flowers, you may blow your entire garden budget on flowers that will be finished blooming in May. To prevent this, I have compiled a list of proven winners that are good investments but will need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. If you plant these 5 flowers you will have gorgeous blooms all summer and for years to come.
Peonies are the delicate, old fashion flowers that appear to be made of tissue paper. They are sold as bare roots and can be planted at the beginning of spring. They will be expensive; however, many wholesalers are now selling to the public. The average price for 3 bare roots will run about $40 unless you order them late and get a discount, but you will be getting a bottom-of-the-barrel product and not much selection. They don’t tolerate weeds, demand rich well-drained soil, and need room for their roots to stretch out. Expect flowers to bloom around Mother’s Day.
Special Characteristic: They will bloom the first year and for the next 50 years.
Dahlias are tuberous perennials. Each can have a layer of petals, complex multiple layers of petals, or come in a pom-pom shape. Their sizes range from the 2” dwarf blooms to the enormous 15” dinner plate-size flowers, and their color selection covers the rainbow. Because of their hollow stems, they will need to be cut back when they are a foot high. This will be hard to do, especially when you might be cutting a new bloom off, but if you don’t, you will only get a single bloom on a long 4’-5’ stem. Their stems are hollow so the taller they get, the harder it is for the plant to draw water up to the top bloom. If you cut them back to 7”-8”, they will grow multiple branches which will provide you with many more blooms and they will not struggle to drink. Plant in spring for blooms from late July to first frost. Special Characteristic: Expect each tuber to produce a minimum of 4 new offshoots that you can divide and plant. They pay for themselves with their ability to multiply yearly.
Daylilies, or day lilies, have gone through quite a transformation over the decades with 4 different kinds readily available. They include Asiatic, Oriental, Giant Hybrid and Double Lilies. I recommend the Oriental lilies, because they are sturdier and have a lovely lily scent. Stargazers and Casa Blanca are my favorites. Lilly bulbs are inexpensive, practically maintenance free and love hot, humid climates. Lily bulbs are identified by their bloom time whether it be early, mid-season or late summer.
Special Characteristics: These are drought-tolerant and deer/rabbit resistant.
These small white flowers are workhorses in any garden and are easy to grow from seed. They reseed themselves which keeps them coming back year after year. They are perfect for cut flowers, growing 2-3 feet and lasting at least a week in a vase. They will spread laterally so keep that in mind if you use them in a landscape, by providing room on both sides for expansion. Shasta daisies will bloom nonstop throughout the spring and summer with regular deadheading. Special Characteristics: Self seeding which keeps them coming back every year.
Larkspur is a type of delphinium and is considered an annual. However, they self-seed at the end of the season. Because they drop seeds, you can expect to have even more flowers the year after and the years to follow. They offer airy stalks with blue, pink, red, and white blossoms with fern-like foliage. Seeds are direct sown in November and need daily watering for 3 weeks. This will get them established and your work is done. They like rich well-drained soil to grow through the fall and winter. These flowers can grow to 3' tall and are grown best with wind barriers; however, if you can't protect them from wind, use flower netting for support. For these flowers, afternoon shade is not required but appreciated. Special Characteristic: Deer resistant, however, highly toxic to humans and animals. Wash your hands thoroughly after harvesting and keep your pets away.