Plants & Flowers
A vibrant garden filled with beautiful blooms doesn’t have to be merely a dream. With proper planning and care, you can create stunning flower beds and landscaping. This guide will walk you through everything needed to successfully choose, plant, and tend to gorgeous flowers and plants.

The Complete Guide to Planting and Caring for Flowers & Plants

Adding flowering plants infuses any outdoor space with color, fragrance, and curb appeal. But the process involves more than just picking random blooms from the nursery and popping them in the ground. Your flowers will thrive for years of enjoyment with knowledge of proper planting techniques, ideal growing conditions, and seasonal care.

This comprehensive guide covers tips for garden planning, flower selection, soil preparation, planting best practices, and ongoing maintenance. Follow our flower gardening tips, and you'll be rewarded with a landscape that dazzles the senses.

How To Plan Out Your Flower Garden

Careful planning sets your flower garden up for success. It's best to have a solid understanding of each plant and flower you intend to grow and how they respond to certain conditions while planning out your garden.

Most flowers fall into categories like annuals, perennials, bulbs, and tropical plants based on their life span and climate needs. Annuals only last one season but bloom reliably. They are often used for colorful potted arrangements. Examples include petunias, zinnias, and marigolds. Perennials return each year, living for multiple seasons. They may die back in winter. Examples include coneflowers, irises, and peonies. Bulbs flower in spring and summer from underground bulbs. Examples are tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Tropical plants require warm conditions year-round and are used as annuals where winters cause dieback. Examples include Mandeville, Hibiscus, and Bougainvillea.

When planning flower placements, you must select species suited to the sunlight exposure in that location. Some flowers thrive in full sun, meaning at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Sun lovers include roses, zinnias, marigolds, petunias, and sunflowers. Others prefer part to full shade, which is less than 3 hours of direct sun. Shade-tolerant choices include ferns, impatiens, begonias, coral bells, and astilbe. Be sure to situate sun-loving plants where they'll get sufficient light for blooms and position shade plants out of harsh afternoon sunlight.

It's also important to arrange plants strategically for optimal presentation and growth. You should plant taller flowers toward the back or center to avoid them blocking shorter varieties. Group plants with similar water and sunlight needs together in beds. Repeat colors or flower types for cohesion but vary height and form for visual interest. Use trellises, arbors, and stakes to support tall or vining plants. A well-thought-out design maximizes each flower's beauty.

When planning what to plant, most flowers thrive best during their optimal season. Classic spring bloomers include bulbs, pansies, snapdragons, violas, and sweet alyssum. Choose heat-loving zinnias, marigolds, petunias, sunflowers, or celosia for summer. Extend seasonal interest into fall by planting chrysanthemums, asters, sedums, ornamental kale, and cabbage. Check specific flower variety details to learn when each type does best in your climate zone. Order spring bulbs in the fall for planting.

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How To Prepare the Planting Area?

Once you've selected your flowers and plants, ensure they get off to a good start by fully preparing your growing area.

Raised garden bed, seen at a riverfront home

It's important to loosen and improve compacted soil by turning it over with a shovel or tiller several weeks before planting. Eliminate weeds, including the roots, to prevent regrowth. Mix 2-3 inches of compost or other organic matter into the soil to improve moisture retention and nutrition.

When digging the holes to plant each flower, follow the recommended planting spacing on the plant's tag or seed packet. Allow extra space between plants for future spreading growth. Overcrowding leads to competition for sunlight and soil nutrients, so proper spacing prevents this.

You should dig holes twice as wide as the container size for potted plants but no deeper. This gives room for the roots to expand out without crowding. For bulbs, plant them at a depth of 2-3 times their height with the pointed end facing up.

After planting any new flowers or plants, it's crucial to water them thoroughly to fully saturate the soil around the roots until you see puddling. Check soil moisture daily for the first week and water again whenever the top few inches become dry. After plants establish deeper roots, you can gradually reduce watering frequency based on their needs.

Finally, finish up planting by laying down 2-4 inches of organic mulch like pine needles, wood chips, or straw around all plants. Take care not to pile mulch against the base of stems and trunks. The mulch insulation moderates soil temperature and retains moisture while suppressing weed growth. Replenish mulch annually as it decomposes.

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How To Plant Flowers and Plants

Once planning and prep work is complete, it's time to put your flowers and plants in the ground and begin the growing process.

Planting flowers in the garden.

Before transplanting plants from their nursery pots into the garden, it's important to water them thoroughly the day before to ensure moist soil around the roots. Carefully remove each plant from its container, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Gently tease out any seeds that have started circling inside the pot.

Place plants into the prepared garden beds at the proper spacing, keeping groupings of the same plant together. Install these structures before planting around them for vines or tall plants requiring trellises or other support.

Remove only the bottom of the nursery pots when setting potted plants into the holes you dug. Then, place the intact root ball and remaining pot sides atop the backfilled soil. This prevents the plant from sinking too low.

After positioning each plant, backfill the planting holes with the native surrounding soil, pressing firmly around the roots to make good contact and anchor them. Water thoroughly after planting until the soil is moistened but not puddled. Add more soil if any plants settle lower over the next few days.

Watch as Danny and Chelsea share tips on how to best plant a plant after you bring it home from the nursery.

How To Best Care for Flowers and Plants

Getting flowers off to a good start is only half the battle. Proper ongoing care keeps your garden thriving season after season.

Man caring for his garden

Once your plants are established, you must continue monitoring soil moisture regularly and watering as needed to provide around 1-1.5 inches of water per week. This amount may need to increase during periods of extreme summer heat. Prioritize watering early morning or late evening to reduce evaporation loss. Avoid frequent overhead watering, which can promote foliar fungal diseases. Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings to prevent issues like root rot.

Another essential maintenance task is fertilizing your growing flowers and plants during the growing season. Use an all-purpose flower and vegetable fertilizer and apply according to package label directions. For bulbs, lightly scatter a low nitrogen fertilizer over the soil after the initial spring bloom period ends to fuel energy for next year's growth.

It's also important to routinely deadhead spent blooms by pinching or cutting off wilted or faded flowers. For many species, cut back to just above a leaf node, encouraging reblooming. The timing of this process varies based on the flower type. For plants like petunias prone to leggy, scraggly growth occasionally reduces extra-long shoots to promote bushier habits.

As plants grow, provide support with stakes or trellises to prevent damage, especially around top-heavy flowers. Use soft plant ties or mesh to gently secure main stems to stakes without tightly binding. Installing supports prevents damage when summer storms hit.

With attentive care focused on each plant's seasonal needs, your flower garden will deliver beauty and enjoyment over and over again.

What Are The Most Common Flower Growing Problems?

Even well-tended gardens occasionally suffer setbacks. Catch issues early and troubleshoot them quickly.

Discolored leaf on a plant in the garden.

Wilting or discolored leaves often arise from improper watering. Overwatering causes leaves to turn yellow and roots to rot. Allow the soil to dry fully between waterings. Underwatering leads to drooping, wrinkled leaves, indicating thirst. Increase watering frequency but avoid overcompensating. Insufficient sunlight also produces weak, leggy growth. Move affected plants or add supplemental lighting.

Tiny insects like aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips cluster and feed on leaves, buds, and stems, which can quickly spread an infestation. Check plants routinely. Remove severe infestations manually, then spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat applications are often needed. Also encourages natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings, which devour detrimental garden pests.

Fungal diseases promoted by crowded, damp conditions can also arise. Space plants appropriately, prune excess branches to encourage airflow, and water in the morning to allow moisture to evaporate. Remove infected leaves immediately and treat the area with fungicide. Always disinfect tools after use on diseased plants to prevent spreading issues further.

With attentive troubleshooting, potential issues transform into small speedbumps on the road to garden success.

The Bottom Line: How To Best Grow Plants and Flowers?

While flower gardening presents a learning curve, the joy of watching your yard transform into a kaleidoscope of color makes the time and effort completely worthwhile. Follow this guide's tips for choosing plants tailored to your growing conditions, preparing planting beds, adding compost and mulch, practicing proper planting techniques, and safeguarding flower health with attentive care.

Gardening is equal parts knowledge, preparation, and persistence. Arm yourself with information on flower needs, commit to consistent care, and your flowering oasis will flourish for years of backyard pleasure. Bring on the blossoms!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Flowers and Plants

What are easy flowers to grow for beginners?

Great starter flowers include marigolds, zinnias, petunias, pansies, snapdragons, and dianthus. Most thrive in full sun with minimal care and are relatively forgiving of beginner growing mistakes. Start with a few of these before trying trickier plant varieties.

How deep in the ground should I plant flowers?

Check each plant tag or seed packet, but a general guideline is digging holes 2-3 times as deep as the plant’s root ball or container size. This allows room for roots to spread outward. Some taller top-heavy plants can be buried slightly deeper for stability. But take care not to plant too deep or you may drown the roots.

How often should you water flowers?

After initially watering plants at planting time, continue monitoring soil moisture daily and providing supplemental water again whenever the top few inches of soil become dry. Most established plants need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week from either rainfall or irrigation. Reduce frequency if puddling occurs.

What causes yellow leaves on flower plants?

Yellowing leaves often indicate overwatering or poor drainage suffocating the roots. Allow the soil to dry fully before watering again. Insufficient sunlight and lack of nutrients can also cause yellowing. Address the underlying issue and give the plant a nutrient boost.

How do I prepare soil for a new flower bed?

To prep a new bed, loosen compacted soil, remove all weeds, and mix 2-4 inches of compost or other organic material throughout the top layer. Compost feeds plants naturally while improving drainage and moisture retention. Test soil pH and adjust if needed. Planning ahead allows time to correct any issues.

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