20 Easy-to-Grow Flowers for Garden Planters and Flower Beds!
Colorful Flowers - Annuals and Perennials
This hub gives you some ideas about easy-to-grow perennial and annual flowers for your planters and flower beds.
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 degrees F but doesn't like very moist ground. You are supposed to prevent the poppies flowering 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 which 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.
3 - Aubretia
Aubretia is a ground covering perennial which is suitable for edging beds, for 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.
5 - Delphinium
Delphiniums are tall spikey perennials which 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.
6 - Geraniums
Not to be confused with pelargoniums which are a separate genus of plants (also commonly known as geraniums ), geraniums are herbaceous perennials which come in a variety of colors. They have a bushy growing habit and tend to spread over time. They may also self seed.
7 - Scabiosa
Scabiosa is a perennial which produces lavender blue, lilac or creamy colored flowers on long stalks and requires little care except regular dead heading 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.
9 - Dianthus
Dianthus is a genus of about 300 plants including carnations, "pinks" and low growing sub shrubs. The latter are 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 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.
14 - Foxgloves
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 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. Foxglove are tall spiky plants growing up to 4 feet tall with purple bell shaped flowers.
15 - Oriental Poppies
Oriental poppies are vary 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 17 C (63 F). 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 one they have grown sufficiently large.
See this guide to growing seeds:
16 - Feverfew
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
17 - Oregano, a Perennial Herb
Many herbs have beautiful and subtle flowers. An example is oregano which is adorned with tiny pale mauve flowers from early to late summer. This shrub is very hardy and will spread to cove 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 a hardy annual and easy to grow from seeds. They self-seed readily in beds and colour ranges from yellow to orange.
19 - Hyancinths
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 to 10 weeks. Then bring them indoors and they should flower in about 3 weeks.
20 - Red Campion
A perennial wild flower, and very pretty. Colour is pink to red. Like many wild flowers, red campion is not as showy as the gaudy bedding plants that tend to be over used in planters. When mixed with other wild flowers 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 wild flower seeds.
Some of the plants above including aubretia, silver ragwort, geranium and delphinium self seed to a greater or lesser degree. It really depends on the moisture content of the surface of the soil, how fine or coarse the soil is and whether it barely covers the seeds or smothers them, etc.
Plants from Nurseries or Seeds?
All of the above plants can be bought at nurseries/garden centers as mature plants or you can grow them easily from seed.
Questions & Answers
What wild flowers are good for bees in the garden?
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.
© 2012 Eugene Brennan