Five Tips for Successful Flower Gardening

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.

Purple clematis on a white picket fenceTip One

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.

Impatiens and HostasTip Two:

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.

Purple Clematis - Tips for Successful Flower GardeningTip Three

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.

Impatiens- Tips for Successful GardeningTip Four

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.

Pets and Successful Flower GardeningTip Five

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. Good Housekeeping has a list of great resources for dealing with the top garden pests.

Purple Clematis - Five Tips for Successful Flower GardeningWhile there are many other good tips for successful flower gardening, these are my favorite and most useful.

My clematis is at its peak right now enjoying full sun while climbing along the white picket fence.

Purple Clematis - Five Tips for Successful Flower GardeningClematis 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.

White Impatiens in a Mossy Basket - Gardening TipsMy 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?

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  1. Some of my favorite flowers are daisies, peonies, hydrangeas, & roses … but it’s hard to pick just one favorite. I love impatients too. Clematis is also a favorite and I have several planted with my climbing roses. Thanks for the great tips!

  2. Your clematis is gorgeous!

    My favourite annuals are impatiens. I love the bright colours, they’re so easy to grow (no dead-heading required!), and they bloom all summer long right up to the first frost in the fall. And my favourite perennials are hydrangeas. I’m so excited – my hydrangea plant is covered in flower heads! Still a few weeks till they’ll be in full bloom, and I’m crossing my fingers they’ll be blue 🙂

    Great flower tips, thanks for sharing 🙂 I admit I’m guilty if #1 and #2 sometimes!

  3. I love impatiens as well. i agree. Those DARN bunnies ate all my beautiful rose blooms. Why do they have to do that????

  4. These are great tips which are so obvious to me since I am a gardener but I know people that do and don’t do the right things and every year they say to me, why are your plants always so full and nice. Then they tell me how theirs look so bad. I tell them you never put your plants where they need to and don’t fertilize and water them right. Plants need to be put in the right place and cared for in order for them to thrive. I get frustrated because it is the same every year.


  5. Great tips Jennifer.I seem to do better with outdoor plants than indoor plants.Although recently I purchased two indoor plants an so far fingers crossed I have not killed them…yet!

  6. Lillies! Are my all time fav! Great tips I too get so irked when I see people placing there plants in the wrong spots. (Sun in shade, etc)

  7. I planted impatients in hanging baskets and water faithfully but the blooms are gone and have not returned. I have greenery but no flowers!Any help here?

  8. Your flowers are so beautiful and your advice is right-on. I am missing impatiens since we lost our shade due to removal of a tree. They were the easiest, most dependable and insect free flowers I ever grew, and my yard was always full of them. I just love your white ones in their mossy basket. Lovely!

  9. Great tips! I especially agree with tip 3: Water plants appropriately. Many new gardeners often over water (more is not always better!) Your photos are lovely. Happy Gardening!

  10. These are certainly the five things anyone should follow for a great garden. I have a friend who constantly takes the sun/shade rules and throws them away successfully!! I’m always telling her – no don’t plant that solomon’s seal in full sun, you need sun for those irises. But she plants where she wants. And darn it all, those solomon’s seal are thriving in full sun and her irises are blooming in the shade.
    I’ll stick to the rules thank you.
    As for the impatience – there is none to be seen in our area (SW Ontario) and I miss them so much. Like you, I use them everywhere!

  11. Excellent tips on flower gardening. Definitely these tips comes in handy for the gardeners, especially newbies. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us.

    Impressive write-up, indeed!

  12. I have never grown Clematis and I want to so bad…I grow morning glories every year because they re cheap…Is clematis a vine I need to buy grown like most annuals??? they are so lovely and I would love to have them on my fence by my driveway, and on my pergola..Thanks ahead..

    1. Hi Margie!

      Clematis are pretty easy to grow and are relatively inexpensive. I would buy one from a nursery – ours sells them for anywhere from $15 to $50 depending on how large they are. I live in Illinois and my clematis are all perennials so I get to enjoy them year after year. Some clematis are supposed to be cut back, others are not because they flower on old wood. So just make sure you check the instructions on pruning when you buy one.

      I also grow Morning Glories, which I love. It’s easy to keep the seeds and start them inside every year. Clematis tend to flower earlier in the season though, if you get a spring or early summer bloomer. I think you should try growing one! They come in a variety of colors and styles. There’s an Autumn Clematis that grows small white flowers in the fall and it’s wonderfully fragrant!