No matter if you’re working with a large backyard or a tiny patio, choosing garden flowers can be a bit daunting. With so many species and varieties to choose from, how do you pick? While the diversity of flowers can be a bit overwhelming at times, it also means you can find the perfect flowers for your environment and style. And by combining colors and styles, you’ll end up with a garden that rivals the beauty of mixed flower bouquets.
To help you find the perfect flowers for your garden, we’re going to cover some garden flower basics. Then we’ll break things down by garden type so you can be well on your way to creating the garden of your dreams.
How to Choose Flowers for a Home Garden
One of the first steps in choosing flowers for your garden is to look at what you’re working with. Do you have sun or shade? Is your soil compacted clay or well-draining sand?
While some flowers thrive in a wide variety of conditions, most have some preferences. By knowing what you’re working with, you can choose flowers that are well-suited to your garden’s environment.
After you take into consideration your garden’s environment, take a minute to think about what type of style you’re after. Do you want to keep to a specific theme? Are you looking for flowers that are great for cutting? Or do you just want a lush place to relax?
Annual or Perennial?
One thing to consider when planting garden flowers is whether you want annuals or perennials. Annual flowers die each winter, so you must replant them each year. While perennial plants often die back in the winter, they reemerge each spring.
Perennials are a good choice if you only want to plant once and know you’ll live somewhere for a while. Annuals let you mix things up each year, and they are typically less expensive.
While most flowers are annuals or perennials, some are biennials. These plants produce vegetation the first year before blooming and dying the second year.
Flowers by Garden Type
If you don’t know what flowers to choose for your garden, a good first step is to determine what type of garden you want. Once you’ve narrowed in on a garden style you like, find some flowers that will fit in well.
While many flowers need full or partial sun, these plants are happiest in a shady spot.
Perhaps the most popular annual for shade gardens, impatiens find a happy home along forest edges and sides of houses. Their simple, bright flowers add a boost of color to otherwise dark areas. With bloom periods that last multiple months, they’re a great choice for long-lasting color. For added fun, look out for plants with multi-colored flowers.
This ground cover is the perfect plant if you want to achieve a cottage garden vibe. It quickly grows into a thick mat that shades out weeds (and it’s deer resistant). This perennial thrives in shade and various types of soil, so it works great along woodland edges as well as in neglected shady areas.
While its foliage is present throughout the year, sweet woodruff plants send up small white star-shaped flowers in the spring. If you dry the leaves or the flowers, you’ll end up with a sugary, vanilla scent that is responsible for the sweet part of this plant’s name.
Lily of the Valley
With cute bell-shaped flowers and an intoxicating floral scent, lily of the valley is a delight in any shade garden. But don’t let its name fool you, lily of the valley isn’t a true lily. The plants top out at about ten inches tall and look great planted in clumps. Be aware that it can quickly spread to form a thick groundcover.
Got rocks? No problem! These plants thrive in well-drained rock gardens.
Also known as stonecrop, sedum plants are a group of flowering succulents. You can divide stonecrop plants into two main categories: upright and groundcover. While both types work great in rock gardens, upright stonecrop adds some height to gardens that are often lacking. Plus, the stalks of tiny star-shaped flowers make great cut flowers. Some cultivars to check out include ‘Autumn Joy’ and ‘Vera Jameson’.
A low, trailing variety of the garden favorite flower, creeping phlox works great in rock gardens. Since they’re low-growing and easy to care for, they’re one of the best ground cover flowers. These plants produce loads of small, five-petal flowers that come in colors including lavender, fuschia, and white. Plants prefer full sun or partial shade.
Sustainable and Native Flower Gardens
Native flowers provide food for bees, butterflies, and caterpillars. And since they’re adapted to an area, they don’t require much (if any) extra water or fertilizer.
If you’re looking for a plant that bees, butterflies, birds, and humans will love, you can’t go wrong with purple coneflower. These plants send up many large pink blooms which pollinators love. When the flowers die in the late summer or fall, birds swoop in to feed on their seeds. Also known as echinacea, the purple coneflower is also used for medicinal purposes.
This plant prefers full or part sun, but it can thrive in a wide variety of soil conditions. It doesn’t require much water nor fertilizer, so it’s perfect in a sustainable garden.
Meet a flower that’s sure to bring smiles. The black-eyed Susan produces lots of summer flowers that resemble small sunflowers. It’s a great flower to plant in meadows, wildflower gardens, and in front of houses. Since the flowers are native to much of the United States, they require little human intervention or care (that means you can plant them and forget them).
New England Aster
Native to most of the United States, these cheerful asters light up fall gardens and meadows with bright purple blooms. Since it’s a fall-blooming plant, it adds color (and food for bees and butterflies) once many other flowers are done blooming. These plants typically reach four to six feet tall, so make sure you plant them in an area that can handle their height. And make sure to plant them in an area that receives full or part sun.
When you think of native flowers, you may think about providing food for adult bees and butterflies. But another reason to plant native plants is to provide food for the juvenile caterpillars. Milkweed plants are the only type of plant that monarch butterfly caterpillars will eat, so planting milkweed is a great way to support these butterflies.
With many different species of milkweed, you can find a plant that works in your area. Some types to check out include common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and antelope-horns milkweed.
Live in an area that doesn’t receive much rain? Don’t want to water your plants each week? Then check out these flowers.
With feathery foliage and clusters of small flowers, yarrow is a delight in any garden. While flowers are traditionally white or pink, you can now find blooms that are bright fuchsia, yellow, or purple. While these plants look lush, they can handle dry soil and drought. To keep yarrow happiest, plant it in full sun or part shade.
Salvia is a huge genus of plants with lots of variety. However, one thing the vast majority of these plants have in common is their ability to tolerate drought. Many salvias grow a few feet tall and bloom from summer until fall. Plus, butterflies and hummingbirds love their flowers!
Some popular salvia species include wood sage, Texas sage, and scarlet sage.
Blazing star is a show-stopping, drought-tolerant flower. It sends up tall flower spikes that bloom from the top down. Since it’s native to hot and dry prairies, blazing star can withstand some serious drought.
Japanese gardens are known for their simple layouts that inspire reflection and peace. As you might expect, Japanese plants are one of the key components of these gardens.
Azaleas are a group of flowering shrubs that thrive in acidic soils. They are commonly used in Japanese gardens to provide a base structure. While azalea flowers come in all sorts of colors, pink and white flowers are the most common in Japanese gardens.
Gardeners frequently practice karikomi on azaleas in Japanese gardens. This involves clipping and shearing the plants until they take on the appearance of boulders.
While any iris will work well in a Japanese garden, the Japanese iris fits in well due to its simple shape. You can find flowers that range in color from white to blue to pink. These flowers thrive in wet areas, so they are excellent plants for pond and stream edges.
While the word tree is in its name, this peony is actually a medium-sized shrub. It produces large, ruffled blooms in the spring. Even after the blooms have faded, the tree peony adds beautiful foliage to Japanese gardens.
If you’re looking for a large plant for your garden, the Japanese snowbell is an excellent choice. Every summer this tree turns awash in white as thousands of bell-shaped flowers bloom. To help this tree thrive, plant it in full sun to part shade.
While succulents are often known for their beautiful, fleshy leaves, many of these plants also send up gorgeous flowers. When you plant a succulent garden, make sure to use well-draining soil and put it in a bright area. If you want to try something new, consider planting a succulent wall garden.
Ice plants are low-growing succulents that make excellent ground covers. The plant’s foliage seems to shimmer in the sun as if it were covered by thousands of ice crystals. Plus, their many bright flowers liven up the garden. There are many different species and varieties of ice plants; some types to look into include the Cooper’s ice plant and Starburst ice plant.
Hen and Chicks
Plant a hen and end up with chicks! This low-growing succulent has a beautiful rosette shape. It readily produces offsets or pups, leading to the name hen and chicks. Like all succulents, this plant doesn’t need much water or fertilizer.
Crown of Thorns
While crown of thorns is often grown as a houseplant, it can also work well in outdoor succulent gardens. This plant has thick leaves set on thorn-covered stems and clusters of flat flowers.
Since crown of thorns cannot tolerate much cold, you’ll need to bring it indoors in the winter or replant each spring.
With so many cacti available, it’s hard to choose just a few for your garden. The hedgehog cactus is a favorite due to its small size and large flowers. These cacti stay under a foot tall, yet they have some of the largest cacti blooms. There are numerous species of hedgehog cacti that produce flowers in shades of pink, red, and yellow.
While you may not think of flowers when you think of herbs, many of these fragrant plants send up gorgeous blooms. Plant these flowers as an accompaniment to a vegetable garden to spice up your kitchen.
These peppery flowers bring a sharp bite to the table and a boost of color to the garden. While orange blossoms are the most common color, you can also find yellow, peach, and red nasturtiums. Look for bush varieties to act as a groundcover or trailing varieties to climb up fences or trellises.
With flowers that are both fragrant and gorgeous, lavender is a must-have for any herb garden. Be aware that lavender requires lots of sun and well-drained soil. If you plant it in a wet area, it will likely die. If you’d like to preserve lavender flowers, simply trim the flower stalks and then hang them upside down until dry.
Need some calm in your life? Then plant some chamomile! This plant produces loads of small white and yellow flowers that resemble daisies. You can harvest the flowers and use them to make a relaxing tea. There are many different varieties of chamomile, so you can find both low-growing groundcovers and taller plants.
Don’t just settle for English thyme! Some fun varieties to try include lemon thyme and French thyme. All types of thyme produce cute little flowers that taste similar to the plant’s leaves. Try sprinkling the blooms on dishes or cocktails to add a fun twist.
Cold Weather Gardens
Who says flowers can’t bloom when the weather turns cold? These flowers can handle a bit of cold, and some even continue blooming after the first frost.
While pansies look like delicate plants, they can handle quite a bit of cold. They thrive in both spring and fall gardens but struggle during hot summers. With flowers of all sizes and colors, you can find a variety of pansy that is perfect for your garden. To encourage a long supply of blooms, remove dead flowers after they fade or wilt.
Also known as lenten rose, hellebore is one of the first plants to flower each spring. After the five-petal flowers emerge in February or March, they continue to bloom for a few months. The plant has large leaves that remain green throughout the winter. The best site for hellebores has part shade and well-drained soil.
You probably know about edible care, but do you know about the ornamental variety? Much like its culinary counterpart, ornamental kale can stand up to cold temperatures and light frosts. While this plant doesn’t readily produce flowers, its gorgeous pink and green foliage adds a pop of color to otherwise drab cold-weather gardens.
While most plants flower in the spring or summer, winter jasmine mixes things up with January or February blooms. The plant is a shrub with a weeping form. During the winter, thousands of bright yellow flowers appear on the plant’s stems.
If you live in an area with moist soil or want to try your hand at creating a bog garden, check out these plants. Unlike many common garden flowers, these plants thrive with constantly moist soil.
Native to wet woodlands in the Northeast and Western United States, marsh marigold is a member of the buttercup family. It produces bright yellow flowers during the spring and early summer. It thrives in swampy areas that receive full sun or part shade.
A type of carnivorous plant, the pitcher plant adds both beauty and intrigue to wet areas. Their modified leaves act as pitchers that trap small prey like insects. While many species of pitcher plants work best as houseplants, some species are native to the United States and can tolerate cold weather. The purple pitcher plant is a great choice for outdoor wetland gardens.
If you want a flower garden but don’t want to put in much time or work maintaining it, you’re not alone. These flowers are basically set and forget plants; they don’t require much water, fertilizer, or pruning.
What’s not to love about marigolds? This large group of plants produces warm blooms that brighten gardens for months on end. They’re deer and rabbit resistant, and they keep away many common garden pests. While deadheading flowers will increase the number of blooms, most marigold plants will produce lots of flowers even if they’re neglected.
One of the most low-maintenance perennial plants, daylilies provide color and flowers year after year. While each flower only blooms for one day, plants produce multiple flowers that open over the course of a month.
If you’ve ever driven on the highway or walked through a field in late summer or fall, you’ve likely seen goldenrod flowers. This group of plants produces yellow flowers and thrives in a wide variety of soil types. Plant seeds in a sunny area and you’ll be rewarded with flowers year after year.
What are the Best Garden Flowers to Grow at Home?
This depends on numerous factors including your soil type, sun, and personal preferences. However, some popular garden flowers include roses, snapdragons, marigolds, and lilies.
What is the Easiest Flower to Grow in Home Gardens?
The easiest flower to grow will depend on where you live. However, purple coneflower, black-eyed susan, yarrow, and marigold all thrive in most areas.
Time to Get Planting
Now that you have an idea of what flowers will work well in your garden, it’s time to choose a few of your favs and get your hands dirty. While you wait for your flowers to bloom, don’t miss out on a world filled with blooms; get started on an online flower order!Shop All