My mother’s yard and garden was meticulously kept at all times while I was growing up … to say she’s a neat freak is an understatement. Much to my dismay, I was employed to help with yard chores and although I didn’t like it at the time, my mother’s persnickety attention to detail ignited my appreciation for beautiful landscapes. And while my mother didn’t like a rock or grass blade out of place, she didn’t always follow proper directions for growing flowers. I knew something was a bit off in her pristine garden and so I studied the proper way to grow flowers, often getting advice from my older sister who owns a farmer’s market and large greenhouse outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. My five favorite tips for successful flower gardening are quite simple.
Plant sun-loving plants in a sunny location. This may seem obvious but it’s surprising to find how many people will plant “full sun” plants in partly shady areas thinking, “It might be a bit shady but they still get sun.” Flowers that require full sun typically need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. Not dappled sunlight, but full sun.
Plant shade-loving plants in shade. Again, this might seem like a no-brainer but I’ve seen people plant shade plants in sunny locations only to be disappointed with burned leaves and wilted flowers. I love to fill the shady areas of my garden with the riotous color of impatiens. I pair them with hostas which are available in a wide variety of types and sizes.
Water plants appropriately! As a general rule, plants with thicker stems and leaves require less frequent watering than flowers with thinner stems and leaves because they’re able to store water more efficiently. Did you know that overwatering is the number one cause of early plant death? (According to Proven Winners.) Before watering, I typically stick my finger an inch down into the soil to see if it’s wet because oftentimes the surface is dry but underneath the soil is still damp so no watering is needed just yet.
Fertilize plants according to the plant tags’s instructions and follow fertilizer directions carefully. If you apply too much fertilizer you can burn the flower’s roots. Also, I never fertilize my impatiens as I find they sometimes act adversely. Yes, the plant will get big but it won’t flower as profusely. However, I’ve known some people to fertilize impatiens effectively but overall I find they do well without it.
Get rid of garden pests! No, I’m not referring to your furry friends unless they’re chewing plants and stomping on the flowers! Rather, if you see holes in leaves or half-eaten edges, you have an insect problem. I prefer to use organic methods to eliminate harmful insect pests. The Organic Gardening website is a great resource for identifying and dealing with the top garden pests.
My clematis is at its peak right now enjoying full sun while climbing along the white picket fence.
Clematis is available in a variety of colors and sizes. It’s a garden favorite of mine because it’s so easy to grow. Make sure you find out whether your particular clematis is one you cut back in the fall or leave as is. Some plants only flower from old wood so if you cut it back, you’ll be disappointed the next season.
My all-time favorite garden flower is impatiens … I love all colors! In many areas of the country, impatiens are suffering from impatiens downy mildew but we haven’t experienced it yet in my area (knock on wood). I’ll be devastated if I’m no longer able to grow these dainty little flowers. They’re prolific bloomers and are extremely easy to grow. Impatiens love the shade and we have lots of tall trees in our yard so they’ve become a gardening staple each year.
What are some of your favorite garden flowers?