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Flowers for the Beginning Gardener

Updated on September 5, 2014
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Jeanne Grunert is a full-time freelance writer, novelist, and garden communicator. She lives and works on a 17-acre farm in Virginia.

Easy to Grow Annual and Perennial Flowers

These easy to grow annual and perennial flowers add beautiful color to the garden. Some will even attract butterflies to the garden, an added plus! Many of these flowers can be started from seed, either inside the house in late winter to give the flowers a head start or outside in the garden when the weather turns warm and all danger of frost is past. If you have never grown a garden, planting flowers is fun and easy to do. The following easy to grow annual and perennial flowers will help you get started, but always check with either your local County Cooperative Extension office or a local garden center to choose varieties that will thrive in your part of the world.

Mix of annuals and perennials in my garden.
Mix of annuals and perennials in my garden.

The Difference Between Annual and Perennial Flowers

Before we even get to the pretty pictures, let's talk about the difference between annual and perennial flowers. The definition of whether or not a plant is described as annual or perennial flowers is based upon its life cycle. Annual plants complete a full life cycle in one year: they grow from a seed, mature, flower, and produce new seeds within one year, usually from spring through fall. Most die from the first hard frost, or deep frost, in the region. Perennials, on the other hand, live longer. They typically do not produce seeds their first year - especially if grown from seeds themselves. Instead, they take longer to develop, grow and mature, but provide flowers in the garden for many years to come.

When planting flowers, it's a good idea to think about a mix of annual and perennial flowers. Use perennial flowers suitable for the area as anchors in the garden since they will return year after year. Anchors are plants that are focal points; they provide a continual foundation of shape, form and color. Leave plenty of space around such plants to ensure that the perennial has room to grow. You can use annual flowers planted each year around the perennials to add color and interest.

Annual Flowers Zinnias

Zinnias
Zinnias

Zinnias are a popular annual flower for many American gardens. They are easy to grow from seeds. Scatter the seeds in the garden after all danger of frost is past. Water well. They will soon grow and bloom quickly. Butterflies love them and they are a great plant to attract butterflies to the garden.

Books for Beginning Gardeners

Learn how to grow beautiful annual and perennial flowers and plant a flower garden.

Marigolds

Marigolds
Marigolds

Marigolds are popular, easy to grow annual flowers. They are inexpensive and seeds can be sown directly into the garden soil after all danger of frost is past. They also reseed, and you may find new marigold plants growing in the same spot next year if the seeds from the previous year decide to germinate or grow.

Annual Flowering Vines

Morning Glory Vine
Morning Glory Vine

Vines are an attractive annual flower to add to the garden. Morning glory flowers bloom in the traditional blue color, but are also available in dark purple and hot pink colors, too. You will need a trellis or another support for the vines to climb on.

Bachelor Buttons

Bachelor's Buttons
Bachelor's Buttons

Bachelor Buttons grow easily from seeds, too. These annual flowers reseed, and scatter their seeds throughout the garden. They are available in a dark blue color as well as pink and purple.

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Perennial Flowers from Seeds

Foxglove
Foxglove

Digitalis or Foxglove is a popular perennial flower. It can be started from seeds or from mature plants. Hummingbirds like the flowers.

Black Eyed Susan

Black eyed Susan (Latin or Botanical name: Rudbeckia) is an easy to grow perennial flowers. Once you plant black eyed Susan, it will grow and flower year after year. It needs full sunshine to grow well. It can be started from seeds or you can buy plants at the garden center. This plant is in my garden and began as a small potted perennial plant purchased from a mail order nursery. Five years later, it's huge! (Photo by the author)

Planting a Flower Garden

Most of the plants in my garden were grown from seed.
Most of the plants in my garden were grown from seed.

The secret to planting a beautiful flower garden is to use a mix of annuals and perennials. The picture below shows my garden in May. It is a mixture of annual and perennials. With the exception of the iris and the butterfly bush, all of the flowers that you see were started from seeds. This includes purple coneflower or Echinacea; lavender; gaillardia (the orange flowers near the front) and many others. Seeds are an inexpensive way to start a flower garden. By using a mixture of annual and perennial flowers, you'll add interest, variety, and color to the garden.

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    • jeannergrunert profile image
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      Jeanne Grunert 7 months ago from Prospect, Virginia

      I love plants that are easy to grow! I'd add more. Enjoy your garden!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      I will have to try some foxglove sometime. Many of the other flowers you mention grow like weeds for me. Sometimes marigold seems like it's going to take over.