The Questions People Ask Most About Flower Gardening

Get the answers you need to grow lots of beautiful blooms.

Nothing brings joy quite like a flower garden full of gorgeous colors, shapes, and scents. But if you're new to flower gardening (or have experienced a few fails), you may have some questions. Happily, we have the answers! Check out these FAQs about growing flowers.

How do I choose flowers that will grow well in my yard?

First, figure out your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone, which tells you your average last frost date. From there, you can check plant tags or research online for plants that will perform well in your zone. Then, home in on plants that match the amount of light the area gets (you don't want to grow a shade plant in full sun and vice versa), plus any other special needs you may have, like deer resistance. And most importantly, make sure to grow flowers you like! If you need more help deciding, check out this handy guide to help you figure out what to grow.

Should I plant annuals, perennials, or both?

Choosing between annuals and perennials is like asking us to pick our favorite child! Annuals and perennials both add beauty and color to any flower garden, but each comes with its own set of pros and cons. In short, we think good gardens contain a mix of both. Annuals tend to bloom for a longer period of time but only for a single growing season. This means you'll have to repurchase and replant next year. Perennials, on the other hand, come back year after year but usually only bloom for a portion of the growing season. They may require some pruning, too. Perennials can make excellent foundational plants for your flower garden, while annuals add lots of color and texture that you can change out easily. Learn more about the difference between annual and perennial flowers.

When should I plant flowers?

In general, let your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone be your guide. Some annuals, such as pansies and violas, can tolerate a light frost, while you should keep tender, tropical annuals indoors until the threat of frost has passed. When it comes to perennials, spring and fall are usually the best times to plant. Bulbs, on the other hand, operate on their own schedule—spring bulbs should be planted in the fall, while summer bulbs should be planted in the early spring. Learn more about when to plant spring-blooming bulbs.

Should I start from seed or buy established plants?

This answer will vary by the type of plant. Many perennials can technically be grown from seed, but the majority of gardeners find it easier to purchase established plants (especially shrubs). When it comes to annuals, many gardeners love the winter ritual of starting seeds indoors. But seed-starting comes with the need for knowledge, planning, and patience. If you're lacking one or more of those (no judgment, of course), we recommend opting for already established annuals. Flowers like those in the Brilliant Blooms®* line add an instant pop of color to any garden and eliminate the guesswork that can come with seed-starting.

Do I need to do anything to the soil if I'm planting in a new spot?

Yes, you definitely do! First of all, clear the area of any existing weeds, rocks, or other debris. Loosen the soil about a foot down to ensure new roots receive air and nutrients. Then, mix 3 to 4 inches of high-quality organic material, such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers, in with the top 6 inches of native soil to add nutrients and improve soil texture and drainage.

How do I make sure I have flowers all growing season?

It's a common error. You snap up a bunch of beautiful, flowering plants on your first plant-buying trip of the year, but then find yourself bloomless by the Fourth of July. But with proper planning and good garden care, you can have flowers from before the last spring frost all the through until after the first fall freeze. When planting seeds or purchasing plants, opt for long-blooming annuals such as petunias, impatiens, and geraniums. But even with those picks, you'll probably still need to swap out tired annuals during the season. For example, replace spring pansies with lantana for summer, then switch over to ornamental kale come fall. When it comes to perennials, plant varieties with staggered bloom times so that you're never without color. For example, as spring peonies fade, summer daylilies come into bloom, then as they wind down, fall-blooming hydrangeas take over. You can also maximize your plants' bloom times through proper feeding—see below.

How should I fertilize my flowers?

Different flowers may need different amounts and types of plant food—be sure to research your plants for specifics. For example, spring-blooming peonies do not need regular fertilizer post-flowering, but fall-blooming asters will need nutrition all summer. For general care and maintenance, we recommend applying a product like Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Bloom Booster® Flower Food every 1 to 2 weeks when you water. Learn more about when and how to feed your plants.

How often should I water my flowers?

We can almost guarantee rainfall alone won't be enough for most flowers (sorry to disappoint), so make sure you have a plan for watering from the get-go, such as a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or hand-watering with a hose and nozzle—or even just a simple watering can if you aren't growing a ton of blooms. Avoid sprinklers, which aren't good at reaching the roots and soil under the leaves. Chances are, annuals, with their shallow root systems and quick growth, will need to be watered more often than their deeper-rooted perennial counterparts. In general, an inch of water per week is enough for flower gardens. Stick your finger in the soil every day or two and water when you find the top inch of soil dry. When you do break out the H2O, make sure to water deeply—don't just sprinkle the soil and call it good!

How do I get the most blooms out of my flowers?

The secret to maximizing blooms is deadheading—and no, it's not as scary as it sounds! Deadheading simply means removing old blooms to encourage the growth of new ones. Perform this task regularly and you'll be rewarded with more flowers for longer, not to mention tidier looking plants. And of course, good, commonsense plant care like regular weeding and watering will help keep the flowers coming, too. For an extra oomph, apply Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Bloom Booster® Flower Food to promote more blooms and better color.

How should I cut my flowers?

There are few things quite as rewarding as creating a one-of-a-kind arrangement with flowers from your very own garden. To keep blooms looking their best in the vase for longer, keep these things in mind:

  • Make a clean cut with a sharp, clean knife or shears.
  • Cut flowers as early in the morning as possible, when they are the freshest and most hydrated.
  • Remove any lower leaves that would otherwise be submerged in the vase or other container, as they can quickly rot underwater.
  • Mix Miracle-Gro® for Fresh Cut Flowers into the water to keep cut flowers looking fresh. Arrange them to your liking, then sit back and admire your homegrown masterpiece. Replace the water every 2 to 3 days.

What's chewing on my plants?

Ugh, coming home to find out your flower garden has been turned into a buffet is the worst. There are several potential culprits depending on where you live and the flowers in question. Animals (such as deer and rabbits) require different deterrents than insects (like Japanese beetles), so it's important to figure out whodunnit before you start spraying everything. Let the size of the damage help you identify the culprit—entire leaves disappearing are likely the handiwork of a larger animal (such as a deer), while small holes or chewed ends of leaves are more likely the product of an insect. Once you think you've identified the source, check in with your local Extension service for the best ways to get rid of the problem. (They can help you with the IDing, too.) To keep help pests at bay in the future, make a special point of researching plants that animals in your area don't like, consider physical barriers like fencing or netting, and remove unwanted bugs by hand as soon as you see them (so look often!).

I seem to have few plants with flowers in mid- to late-summer. What can I plant to add color until fall?

If you were entranced by all of the blooming plants at the garden center on Mother's Day weekend but now find yourself with a flower garden full of foliage, don't despair. There are many flowering plants that hit their stride amid summer's heat. For instant color, look to summer annuals like marigolds, zinnias, and geraniums. For a more permanent solution, seek out perennials with summer staying power, like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, bee balm, and Russian sage.

What can I do to protect my plants from extreme heat and/or drought?

If you live in a hot, dry climate, begin by making water-wise plant choices that will flourish even in high temps. (Learn more about drought-tolerant flowers and xeriscaping, the practice of water-friendly gardening.) For those in more temperate climates enduring a temporary heatwave or drought, continue to practice good plant care, especially those deep, regular waterings. If you haven't already, apply a layer of mulch around your plants to help the soil retain moisture. Move any containers temporarily into the shade if you can; if that's not possible, consider placing shade fabric (available at garden centers) over your flowers during the hottest parts of the day.

When should I switch my container plants out for fall annuals?

As days shorten and temp cool, those gorgeous flowers that turned heads in the summer heat will likely begin to fizzle. Around Labor Day, swap them out for the botanical version of a pumpkin spice latte: fall annuals. But don't limit yourself to those grocery store mums! Fall ornamentals such as kale and cabbage, and lesser-used autumn flowers like asters, can make your containers one-of-a-kind.

What should I do with my flower plants at the end of the growing season?

As late fall approaches, it's time to make plans for putting your garden to bed for the winter. You'll want to remove any dead or diseased plants if you haven't done so already, and either bring tender annuals inside to overwinter or simply dispose of them after a killing frost. Consider leaving plants, especially those with seed heads, intact over the winter to serve as shelter and food for birds and other animals.

If you have other questions that aren't addressed here, don't hesitate to call us at 888-270-3714.

*Available exclusively at Lowe's

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