One of the joys of summer is watching the world burst into a floral rainbow — and it’s even better when you can enjoy the show from your own backyard. A flower garden packed with enough beautiful blooms to decorate the landscape and cut for bouquets is every gardener’s dream, and you can make it happen if you know how to select the right plants.
In our previous post, we talked you through all the steps to get your garden beds for summer. Now that your garden is prepped and ready to go, we’ll tell you all about how to choose the best types of flowers to stand up to the summer heat — and how to care for them.
Before you head off to the nursery to pick up flowers to transplant into your garden, you’ll first need to gather the following tools:
- A standard garden spade
- Garden gloves
- A hand spade
- A hand cultivator
- A small bucket or basket (for holding cut flowers and/or weed refuse later)
- A tape measure (for correctly spacing plants)
- A watering can
Garden tools don’t have to be expensive, but test them out to make sure they aren’t too heavy to enjoy using and that they have comfortable grips before committing to a purchase.
Choosing Beautiful Flowers for Bouquets
In general, flowers come in two major types: annuals and perennials. An annual flower is one that completes its life cycle in just one season, sprouting from seed, blooming and dying all in the same year. Perennial flowers, on the other hand, live for many years. Most die back to the ground over the winter; however, their roots are still alive but dormant under the soil. When temperatures warm the following spring, these hardy plants put up new green shoots and come back better than ever.
Most flower gardeners mix perennials and annuals together to get the best of both worlds. If you plant both, draw a diagram of your flower beds to mark where your perennials are so you don’t accidently dig them up. To do this, measure the length and width of your garden bed and draw it on graph paper — you can keep it to scale by making each square equal to one foot. If your bed is curved, measure the width at several points and do your best to approximate the shape.
As you plant flowers, draw a circle and write the name of each plant in its location on your diagram. Read the label to see the plant’s spread at maturity and make sure your circle matches that size. It’s helpful to draw perennials in red and annuals in blue so you can easily see where plants will pop up again next spring. This will keep you from accidentally digging up a perfectly great plant by mistake!
Perennials have a blooming period that lasts for several weeks, and many have a second, smaller flush of blooms in late summer or autumn. For long bloom times and flowers that stand up to hot conditions, try these perennials in your flower garden:
- Bee Balm
- Brown-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckias)
- Garden Phlox
- Joe Pye Weed
- Sea Holly
- Shasta Daisies
Annuals are the workhorses of the flower garden: Once established, they’ll keep on blooming until frost. These annuals are especially hardy and can handle dry spells without much extra care:
- Bachelor Buttons
- German Chamomile
- Globe Amaranth
Seven Must-Know Tips for Planting Your Flower Garden
Skip the Seeds
For the fastest and most reliable results, it’s best to head to a reputable local nursery to pick out potted plants to transplant into your garden. Perennials are available in pots as small as four inches, but choosing an eight-inch pot will provide you with sturdy, more mature plants. Annuals are often available in packs of six, which gives you the best bang for your buck.
Hit the Heights
Be sure to read the tags on your plants so you know exactly what you’re getting. Many tags will be marked with a little scissors symbol to let you know that the flowers are good for cutting — these are perfect for bouquets! All of the varieties listed above will last a while in a vase, but choosing taller versions of the plants will allow you more versatility as you can cut them to size for tall vases — or tiny ones.
Place the Perennials
Once you’ve selected a mixture of perennials and annuals that you love, experiment with your planting plan by setting out the perennial pots in your garden bed. In general, the tallest plants should go in the back, and the shorter ones should be up front. This allows you to see all of your flowers — which is the whole point of having them!
Arrange the Annuals
Leave gaps between your perennials so you have room for annuals. It’s also a good idea to leave space at the front of your bed for annuals: In the future, it will be much easier to reach these spots for planting new annuals than it would be to climb over established perennials. Be sure to keep mature heights and widths of the annuals in mind as you plan your placement.
Transplant with Care
For each plant, dig a hole about the size and shape of the plant’s pot. Use the tip of your spade to break up the soil at the bottom of your hole, then gently slide the plant out of the pot, making sure to support the stems. Keep as much of the soil from the pot on the roots as possible. If the roots are tangled and bound together, gently break them apart. Place the pot in the hole and replace soil, compressing gently to hold the plant in place.
Use a watering can to soak the soil around your plant until you have a small puddle. Allow the water to soak in. You’ll need to water your plants every day for the first week and every other day for the second week. After that, they’ll need an inch of water per week, whether from rain or your watering can.
Though it sounds ominous, deadheading just means cutting dead flowers off of your plants, preferably once a week. This keeps your garden looking great and encourages all of your plants to keep putting out new flowers all summer long. Use a basket to hold the dead flowers and carry them to your compost pile.
With just a good weekend’s work in the garden, you can enjoy beautiful flowers all summer long. You’ll have more than enough blooms to cut for bouquets, and you can refresh the flowers in your vases as they start to fade simply by stepping outside and cutting a few new stems. You’ll also feel bounteous when you give bouquets away to all your friends!