Eugene is an avid gardener and has been passionate about growing things for over 40 years.
20 Easy-to-Grow Flowers in Planters, Pots and Raised Beds!
This article gives you some ideas about easy-to-grow perennial and annual flowers for your planters, pots and flower beds. From Himalayan blue poppies to red valerian, this flower guide covers the entire rainbow colour spectrum. Find your favorites below!
- Perennial: A plant that flowers every year. Foliage generally dies back to ground level in autumn and re-grows the next year. Some perennials are long-lasting e.g. peony rose, others may last only a few years.
- Annual: A plant that completes its growth cycle in one year. Annuals are hardy and not affected by frost. E.g. Candytuft, Calendula
- Half-Hardy Annual: An annual that is tender. Generally, seeds are sown indoors or in a warm location in spring and plants are 'hardened off' or gradually exposed to colder conditions outdoors before being planted out when frosts have passed. E.g. marigolds, petunias
- Biennial: A plant that needs two years to complete its growth cycle. Seeds are sown typically around April of the first year. Foliage matures the first year and plants can be transferred to the flowering location (if sown in pots) or allowed to grow on, to flower the following year. E.g. foxgloves, Canterbury bells, wallflowers
1. Himalayan Blue Poppy
This perennial poppy is a beautiful sky blue color. It is relatively hardy down to at least 21° F but doesn't like very moist ground. You are supposed to prevent the poppies from flowering in the first year by removing flower buds. Otherwise, they become reluctant to flower again.
2. Annual Poppies
Annual poppies are easy to grow from seed. In late summer and the fall, they produce loads of seeds that can be harvested on a dry day when ripe. Once the seed is kept in cool dry conditions in a paper bag over winter, it can be scattered in spring to produce new plants.
Aubretia is a ground-covering perennial which is suitable for edging beds, rockeries and growing over walls. It will grow happily in cracks in walls and in pavements and will spread to an area of several feet. It is available in purple, rose, pink and lilac colors. Aubretia has a long lifespan as a perennial and will last over ten years.
4. Red Valerian
Red valerian comes in red, pink and white and is a common sight in the wild, growing on old walls, ruins and bridges. It will spread throughout a garden and grows as a perennial but also self-seeds and can become a "weed" if not controlled! It is very hardy and will survive temperatures well below freezing.
Delphiniums are tall spikey perennials that can be white, sky blue or a variation on a theme of violet. They withstand low winter temperatures without root damage but must be staked if you don't want them getting blown over or flattened by torrential rain. They have a long lifespan as perennials and last up to twenty years. They produce lots of seeds which you can collect and these are easy to germinate.
Not to be confused with pelargoniums which are a separate genus of plants (also commonly known as geraniums ), geraniums are herbaceous perennials that come in a variety of colors. They have a bushy growth habit and tend to spread over time. They may also self-seed.
Scabiosa is a perennial which produces lavender-blue, lilac or creamy colored flowers on long stalks and requires little care except regular deadheading to encourage new buds to form and bloom. The plant is relatively tolerant of low winter temperatures.
8. Perennial Flax
Perennial flax or Blue Flax is a plant with sky blue flowers borne on slim delicate stems. The flowers only last about a day but are continually replaced by new blooms. This is a short-lived perennial.
Dianthus is a genus of about 300 plants including carnations, "pinks" and low-growing sub-shrubs. The latter is good for ground cover and edging and spread to about two feet.
10. Livingstone Daisies
Livingstone daisies or mesembryanthemum are very pretty low growing, (not more than a couple of inches) annuals which are very easy to grow from seeds. The plants produce multi-petaled flowers with a variety of colors ranging from the red to the violet end of the spectrum. The flowers close at night and open magically in the morning when sunshine falls on them.
11. Campanula or Bellflower
This is a large genus of plants. The ground covering bellflower species is a low-growing perennial with small bell-shaped lilac flowers. It will rapidly cover an area and is great for spreading over rocks and banks.
12. Rock Rose
These sub-shrubs will eventually spread and cover an area. They are also good for edging. They require full sun, and soil with good drainage.
13. Silver Ragwort (Dusty Miller)
Silver Ragwort, also known as Dusty Miller is a biennial Mediterranean plant grown for its ornamental silvery-colored foliage. In Europe, it has become naturalized and is often seen on hillsides close to the sea.
It is a reasonably hardy plant and the ones I have grown in my garden this summer have survived temperatures of 25° F (-4° C) with just some scorch damage. As a biennial, the seeds can be sown from April onwards in a tray.
Transplant the seedlings to pots once they have a couple of pairs of true leaves and move the plants to their flowering positions in late summer. Flowering occurs in the summer of the following year. Like common ragwort, the plant is toxic and should be kept away from livestock.
Foxgloves like silver ragwort are biennials so the cultivation procedure is the same. Sow seeds in early summer, plant out in the fall and flowering occurs in the summer of the following year.
Although environmental regulations may prohibit digging plants up from the wild and taking them home to your garden, you can collect seeds and they germinate readily. Foxgloves are tall spiky plants growing up to 4 feet tall with purple bell-shaped flowers.
15. Oriental Poppies
Oriental poppies are very easy to grow perennials. Seed can be sown in spring and germinated in a warm room, or near a hot water tank at a temperature of about 63° F (17° C).
Sprinkle the seed on the surface of compost in a tray and just barely covered with a sprinkling of fine compost. Plants need to be transplanted into pots and moved to final flowering positions once they have grown sufficiently large.
Feverfew is a perennial herb with white daisy-like flowers. It readily self-seeds and will take over your garden if you don't keep it at bay. I'm not overly fond of white flowers, but the odd splash of white can cool down bright colors in the garden.
Feverfew is reputed to prevent migraine (i.e it acts as a prophylactic) and a few leaves chewed daily or infused into hot water to form a tea, is the recommended dose. (It's quite bitter!) Being a migraine sufferer myself, I tried this for a few weeks but didn't notice any improvement. Maybe it needs to be taken for a longer period
Many herbs have beautiful and subtle flowers. An example is oregano, a perennial herb, which is adorned with tiny pale mauve flowers from early to late summer. This shrub is very hardy and will spread to cover a large area or colonize a raised bank. It's a favourite of butterflies and bees, plus you can also use it to spice up your cooking!
18. Calendula (Pot Marigolds)
These are hardy annuals and easy to grow from seeds. They self-seed readily in beds and colour ranges from yellow to orange.
In early spring there's less choice of flowers to brighten up the garden, but hyacinths can add spot colour before everything takes off in late spring/early summer. Hyacinths grow from bulbs and should be planted in autumn to flower in March and April. They are hardy but can be tender if grown in containers.
For Christmas flowering indoors, buy bulbs labeled 'prepared'. These bulbs need to be 'forced' and should be planted in late September and kept in a cool place such as a shed at (9º C) for 8–10 weeks. Then bring them indoors and they should flower in about 3 weeks.
20. Red Campion
A perennial wildflower, and very pretty. Their colour ranges from pink to red. Like many wildflowers, red campion is not as showy as the gaudy bedding plants that tend to be overused in planters. When mixed with other wildflowers in a border, however, the effect is more subtle and natural. You may be able to buy these individually, or possibly they could be included in packets of wildflower seeds.
Plants from Nurseries or Seeds?
All of the above plants can be bought at nurseries/garden centres as mature plants or you can grow them easily from seed. Check out my guide which shows you how to grow flowers/vegetables indoors or outdoors in the ground:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What wild flowers are good for bees in the garden?
Answer: Try bugle, rosebay willowherb, silver ragwort, comfrey, red campion, ox-eye daisies, purple loosestrife, foxgloves and knapweed all of which are colourful and easy to grow.
Question: What plant or flower is good to deter animals from flower beds; such as cats, skunks, raccoons?
Answer: There are several things you can try. Prickly plants such as holly and berberis. Large cat dung, if you could get it from a zoo. Chicken wire laid over plants to stop cats scratching. Cats supposedly dislike citrus, so use orange and lemon peel. Cat poo and pee are supposed to deter rabbits and rats.
© 2012 Eugene Brennan
Louise89 on June 28, 2020:
Great info, thanks!
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2015:
Thanks Jill, glad you liked it! I haven't looked at this hub for a few months, so seeing it again has given me a longing for summer and doing some gardening!
Jill Spencer from United States on March 26, 2015:
Love this hub. So glad I ran across it. Your flower selections & photos are wonderful.
Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, Southeast Missouri, USA on March 03, 2013:
I enjoyed this hub. Voted up and useful. You have given me some great ideas for my garden.
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on October 25, 2012:
Thanks for the comments! All of these flowers are easy to grow. I haven't yet tried the Silver Ragwort but harvested some seeds from the flowers in the photo. Hopefully they will germinate in the spring!
Jim and Laura from Chicago area on October 25, 2012:
Gorgeous photos and good information here! Thanks for the lift.
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on September 20, 2012:
Thanks for the comments GoldenThreadPress! It's certainly dreary and wet outside my window today and I'm longing to get outside!
GoldenThreadPress on September 19, 2012:
Beautiful @HubPages! I love it when a fellow gardener shares his/her love for flowers. It may be dreary outside, but I feel a bit of summer inside! Job well done!
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on July 24, 2012:
Yes, at least they keep down some of the weeds! Unfortunately they are a great hiding place for slugs and with the climate we have here, they are a serious problem in the garden.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 23, 2012:
Spectacular world of flowers. I love the ground covers.
Pavlo Badovskyi from Kyiv, Ukraine on July 23, 2012:
i love blossoming flowers and you describe lot of them. You managed to find very nice photoes ! Like it !
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on July 23, 2012:
Thanks Tonipet for the comments! I can't take all the credit for the photos, half of them are from Wikimedia Commons. However I have grown all these flowers at some stage in my garden!
Tonette Fornillos from The City of Generals on July 23, 2012:
Lovely hub. This certainly can brighten up every yard, very colorful. You are so passionate about this to have been able to take photos of those wonderful flowers. Thanks for this.