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Easy flowers to grow

By: Sherri Ribbey
You can count on these easy flowers to grow beautifully in your garden keeping it colorful and looking good from spring to frost.

'Purple Candles' cultivar of Chinese Astilbe: Chinese astilbe has mounds of lacy foliage and fuzzy plumes that add texture to your garden.

Looking for some easy flowers to grow? The dependable plants you’ll find here will add long-lasting color and reliable interest to your garden all season long, even if you only have a small amount of time to devote to them.

Easy flowers to grow = less work for you

Though the plants here are easy to care for, take tough conditions in stride and won’t demand much special attention, there are a couple of things you can do to guarantee they perform their very best.

Add mulch after planting

Once these easy to grow flowers are in the ground, spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as bark chips, to conserve moisture. Even if plants can handle dry weather and soil, this helps them maintain the most flowers and healthiest foliage throughout the season. Keep the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the crown, or where the stems emerge from the soil, so the plant doesn't get too wet and rot. And besides the helping hang on to moisture, mulch cuts back on how often you need to water, too.

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Make sure to fertilize

These easy flowers are going to be blooming a lot so make sure to provide plenty of nutrients for them. Just think about what your body needs to stay fueled and energized - food! To make sure your plants have plenty of what they need to grow and look gorgeous, scratch a shovelful of compost onto the soil’s surface or apply a slow-release fertilizer once in spring. On the other hand, don’t worry a lot - if you forget and don’t follow a close and regular fertilizing schedule, these easy flowers will grow just fine.

Now take a look at some of the easiest and most reliable blooms you can welcome into your garden in the gallery below.

French marigold (Tagetes patula)

Want lots of bright flowers on plants that stay neat and compact through the hottest, driest parts of summer? It’s easy with French marigold. It blooms in hot colors, like yellow with red-orange centers, such as Hot Pak™ Fire here. They’re eye-catching in containers, as edging or massed out anywhere soil is poor or rocky.

Start seeds inside six weeks before the last predicted frost or wait until all danger of frost has passed in spring to direct sow them about ¼ in. deep.

Type Annual Blooms Single or double flowers in yellow, orange, red or bicolor from early summer through frost Light Full sun Size 6 to 12 in. tall and wide

Coneflower (Echinacea spp. and hybrids)

Coneflowers are incredibly low-maintenance, even in hot, dry, humid weather, and covered in blooms from early summer through early fall — no deadheading necessary. These easy flowers are pollinator favorites, drawing in butterflies and bees until the they fade. Then, the dried, conical seedheads become an important energy source for goldfinches and other birds.

Hybridizing of the purple native flower (Echinacea purpurea) has made for an array of bloom types and colors, such as fragrant yellow ‘Aloha’ above. And though coneflowers often reseed, the next generation doesn't usually resemble the parent plant.

Type Perennial Blooms Purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or white single or double flowers from early summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 1 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 3 to 9

Daylily (Hemerocallis spp. and hybrids)

Daylilies do well in hot humid summers and where winters get cold, too — some varieties are cold-hardy to USDA zone 3 without added protection. ‘Highland Lord’ in photo is one of the thousands of varieties available in a huge range of colors, shapes and sizes. Though individual blooms don't last more than a day, there are plenty of buds on each stem to extend the show. When all of the flowers are done follow the stem back below the clump of foliage to cut it off. This tidies up plants and encourages a quicker rebloom on varieties that have a second flush.

Type Perennial Blooms Single or double flowers in every color but blue from late spring to late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 72 in. tall, 9 to 40 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 11

Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis)

To get the best from your astilbe it needs regular moisture but a couple inches of mulch to help keep moisture even. Chinese astilbe prefers neutral to slightly acid soil. In sandy soil add lots of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, before planting so it’ll hold moisture well. Peat moss also lowers the pH, which is important if you’re growing Chinese astilbe in alkaline soil.

Once the blooms fade you can leave the brown scapes in place for added interest or cut the stems off below the foliage to tidy things up. Some people even spray paint the dried flowers a bright color.

Type Perennial Blooms Flowers in shades of red, pink, white and purple from midsummer to early fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 8 to 48 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

Zinnia (Zinnia hybrid)

Zinnias of all kinds are easy to grow but these pint-sized ground cover types, such as the Profusion™ (above) or Zahara™ series, are the absolute easiest — they don’t need deadheading, are super disease-resistant and take hot sunny spots in stride. Use them to edge a border or a path or grow a mass planting. Wherever you grow them they‘ll bloom nonstop from planting to frost.

Zinnias really are heat-lovers so make sure you don’t plant too early — in cool spring temps plants will just sit and may rot. With full sun and some added water during long dry spells you'll have these cheery blooms all season.

Type Annual Blooms White, orange, yellow, pink, apricot or red flowers in spring through fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide

Hellebore (Helleborus spp. and hybrids)

Depending on the species or cultivar, this shade-loving perennial blooms from late winter to early spring for at least six weeks and often more than two months. Even if they weren’t so interesting, the flowers would be a welcome sight so early in the season.

Once hellebore’s down-, out- or upward-facing flowers finally finish, the mound of leathery green foliage stays looking good for the rest of the year, untouched by critters or disease. In areas with mild winters, leaves are evergreen, but where cold damages foliage, trim plants back in very early spring, to avoid damaging new blooms.

Type Perennial Blooms White, pink, yellow, green or purple in late winter or early spring Light Part to full shade Size 1 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Geranium (Pelargonium spp. and hybrids)

Use geranium as the floriferous filler in a container or windowbox, a bright edging along the front of the border or a colorful mass planting in a bed. Lots of cultivars are available as seed, so getting plants for a sweep doesn’t have to cost much.

Cutting-grown geraniums are slightly more expensive than the seed-grown varieties at the garden center. But they’ll have larger, more durable flowers. Americana® Light Pink Splash, above, is a cutting-grown type that grows 12 to 18 in. tall and 12 to 15 in. wide.

Type Tender perennial (Typically grown as an annual) Blooms Shades of pink, red, salmon, coral, orange, burgundy, lavender, white or bicolor from spring through frost Light Full sun to part shade Size 5 to 24 in. tall, 9 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 9 to 11

Shrub rose (Rosa hybrids)

If you’ve ever thought of roses as high maintenance, let shrub roses change your mind. Give plants a place in full sun — some varieties, such as Knock Out®, even tolerate part shade — and shrub roses will bloom through late summer without careful maintenance or pruning. Plants take hot, humid weather and dry conditions in stride. And most cultivars, especially newer ones, are disease-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about powdery mildew or blackspot — two common problems that dramatically weaken rose health.

In addition to excellent disease resistance, Carefree Wonder™ in the photo has good fall interest. After its double blooms finish, red-orange hips take their place, and the foliage changes to shades of yellow.

Type Shrub Blooms Single or double flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow and orange from late spring to late summer Light Full sun Size 2 to 6 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)

If downy mildew has kept you from growing bedding impatiens, give New Guinea impatiens a try. They’re not bothered by this fungal disease. Big Bounce® Lavender is one of many varieties you can choose from to brighten up shade or add color to sunny borders. Plants bloom from planting to frost with no need to deadhead. Some, such as Sunpatiens® Tropical Orange even have colorful yellow and green variegated foliage.

Type Tender perennial (Typically grown as an annual) Blooms Shades of lavender, purple, pink, red, orange and white from spring to frost Light Full sun to full shade Size 8 to 48 in. tall, 6 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Allium (Allium spp. and hybrids)

Though the bulbs may smell a little like the onions you cook with alliums, such as Gladiator in the photo, aren't for eating, they're for growing. Plant them in fall with the base of the bulb three times as deep its height and in spring you'll have those big head-turning blooms.

When the blooms are done you can leave them in place for added interest and alliums will often reseed. However, if you want to keep growing the biggest flowers it's a good idea to pinch off spent flowers to help it conserve energy. The foliage and even the stem will gather energy to feed the bulb for next year.

Type Bulb Blooms Purple, lavender or white globes in late spring Light Full sun Size 20 to 60 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Garden mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium )

Garden mums like Copper Coin in the photo are superstars of the fall border covered in colorful blooms until frost. To help garden mums survive winter your best bet is to plant them in spring. This gives the roots plenty of time to grow and get established before cold temperatures hit.

Plants thrive in a wide range of soils but do need good drainage. Most modern garden mum varieties are bred to have compact habits with lots of flowers but you if your plants are leggy you can pinch the stems back an inch or so a couple of times between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July to encourage a denser habit, more branching and flowers.

Type Perennial Blooms White, yellow, orange, red, purple or pink from late summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

French marigold (Tagetes patula)

Want lots of bright flowers on plants that stay neat and compact through the hottest, driest parts of summer? It’s easy with French marigold. It blooms in hot colors, like yellow with red-orange centers, such as Hot Pak™ Fire here. They’re eye-catching in containers, as edging or massed out anywhere soil is poor or rocky.

Start seeds inside six weeks before the last predicted frost or wait until all danger of frost has passed in spring to direct sow them about ¼ in. deep.

Type Annual Blooms Single or double flowers in yellow, orange, red or bicolor from early summer through frost Light Full sun Size 6 to 12 in. tall and wide

Geranium (Pelargonium spp. and hybrids)

Use geranium as the floriferous filler in a container or windowbox, a bright edging along the front of the border or a colorful mass planting in a bed. Lots of cultivars are available as seed, so getting plants for a sweep doesn’t have to cost much.

Cutting-grown geraniums are slightly more expensive than the seed-grown varieties at the garden center. But they’ll have larger, more durable flowers. Americana® Light Pink Splash, above, is a cutting-grown type that grows 12 to 18 in. tall and 12 to 15 in. wide.

Type Tender perennial (Typically grown as an annual) Blooms Shades of pink, red, salmon, coral, orange, burgundy, lavender, white or bicolor from spring through frost Light Full sun to part shade Size 5 to 24 in. tall, 9 to 18 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 9 to 11

Coneflower (Echinacea spp. and hybrids)

Coneflowers are incredibly low-maintenance, even in hot, dry, humid weather, and covered in blooms from early summer through early fall — no deadheading necessary. These easy flowers are pollinator favorites, drawing in butterflies and bees until the they fade. Then, the dried, conical seedheads become an important energy source for goldfinches and other birds.

Hybridizing of the purple native flower (Echinacea purpurea) has made for an array of bloom types and colors, such as fragrant yellow ‘Aloha’ above. And though coneflowers often reseed, the next generation doesn't usually resemble the parent plant.

Type Perennial Blooms Purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or white single or double flowers from early summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 1 to 4 ft. tall, 1 to 3 ft. wide Hardiness Cold hardy USDA zones 3 to 9

Shrub rose (Rosa hybrids)

If you’ve ever thought of roses as high maintenance, let shrub roses change your mind. Give plants a place in full sun — some varieties, such as Knock Out®, even tolerate part shade — and shrub roses will bloom through late summer without careful maintenance or pruning. Plants take hot, humid weather and dry conditions in stride. And most cultivars, especially newer ones, are disease-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about powdery mildew or blackspot — two common problems that dramatically weaken rose health.

In addition to excellent disease resistance, Carefree Wonder™ in the photo has good fall interest. After its double blooms finish, red-orange hips take their place, and the foliage changes to shades of yellow.

Type Shrub Blooms Single or double flowers in shades of pink, red, yellow and orange from late spring to late summer Light Full sun Size 2 to 6 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Daylily (Hemerocallis spp. and hybrids)

Daylilies do well in hot humid summers and where winters get cold, too — some varieties are cold-hardy to USDA zone 3 without added protection. ‘Highland Lord’ in photo is one of the thousands of varieties available in a huge range of colors, shapes and sizes. Though individual blooms don't last more than a day, there are plenty of buds on each stem to extend the show. When all of the flowers are done follow the stem back below the clump of foliage to cut it off. This tidies up plants and encourages a quicker rebloom on varieties that have a second flush.

Type Perennial Blooms Single or double flowers in every color but blue from late spring to late summer Light Full sun to part shade Size 12 to 72 in. tall, 9 to 40 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 11

New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri)

If downy mildew has kept you from growing bedding impatiens, give New Guinea impatiens a try. They’re not bothered by this fungal disease. Big Bounce® Lavender is one of many varieties you can choose from to brighten up shade or add color to sunny borders. Plants bloom from planting to frost with no need to deadhead. Some, such as Sunpatiens® Tropical Orange even have colorful yellow and green variegated foliage.

Type Tender perennial (Typically grown as an annual) Blooms Shades of lavender, purple, pink, red, orange and white from spring to frost Light Full sun to full shade Size 8 to 48 in. tall, 6 to 36 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11

Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis)

To get the best from your astilbe it needs regular moisture but a couple inches of mulch to help keep moisture even. Chinese astilbe prefers neutral to slightly acid soil. In sandy soil add lots of organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, before planting so it’ll hold moisture well. Peat moss also lowers the pH, which is important if you’re growing Chinese astilbe in alkaline soil.

Once the blooms fade you can leave the brown scapes in place for added interest or cut the stems off below the foliage to tidy things up. Some people even spray paint the dried flowers a bright color.

Type Perennial Blooms Flowers in shades of red, pink, white and purple from midsummer to early fall Light Full sun to full shade Size 8 to 48 in. tall, 12 to 24 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9

Allium (Allium spp. and hybrids)

Though the bulbs may smell a little like the onions you cook with alliums, such as Gladiator in the photo, aren't for eating, they're for growing. Plant them in fall with the base of the bulb three times as deep its height and in spring you'll have those big head-turning blooms.

When the blooms are done you can leave them in place for added interest and alliums will often reseed. However, if you want to keep growing the biggest flowers it's a good idea to pinch off spent flowers to help it conserve energy. The foliage and even the stem will gather energy to feed the bulb for next year.

Type Bulb Blooms Purple, lavender or white globes in late spring Light Full sun Size 20 to 60 in. tall, 12 to 15 in. wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Zinnia (Zinnia hybrid)

Zinnias of all kinds are easy to grow but these pint-sized ground cover types, such as the Profusion™ (above) or Zahara™ series, are the absolute easiest — they don’t need deadheading, are super disease-resistant and take hot sunny spots in stride. Use them to edge a border or a path or grow a mass planting. Wherever you grow them they‘ll bloom nonstop from planting to frost.

Zinnias really are heat-lovers so make sure you don’t plant too early — in cool spring temps plants will just sit and may rot. With full sun and some added water during long dry spells you'll have these cheery blooms all season.

Type Annual Blooms White, orange, yellow, pink, apricot or red flowers in spring through fall Light Full sun Size 12 to 18 in. tall and wide

Garden mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium )

Garden mums like Copper Coin in the photo are superstars of the fall border covered in colorful blooms until frost. To help garden mums survive winter your best bet is to plant them in spring. This gives the roots plenty of time to grow and get established before cold temperatures hit.

Plants thrive in a wide range of soils but do need good drainage. Most modern garden mum varieties are bred to have compact habits with lots of flowers but you if your plants are leggy you can pinch the stems back an inch or so a couple of times between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July to encourage a denser habit, more branching and flowers.

Type Perennial Blooms White, yellow, orange, red, purple or pink from late summer to fall Light Full sun to part shade Size 2 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9

Hellebore (Helleborus spp. and hybrids)

Depending on the species or cultivar, this shade-loving perennial blooms from late winter to early spring for at least six weeks and often more than two months. Even if they weren’t so interesting, the flowers would be a welcome sight so early in the season.

Once hellebore’s down-, out- or upward-facing flowers finally finish, the mound of leathery green foliage stays looking good for the rest of the year, untouched by critters or disease. In areas with mild winters, leaves are evergreen, but where cold damages foliage, trim plants back in very early spring, to avoid damaging new blooms.

Type Perennial Blooms White, pink, yellow, green or purple in late winter or early spring Light Part to full shade Size 1 to 3 ft. tall and wide Hardiness Cold hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9

Published: March 19, 2020
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