Gardening is a hobby that you can spend a lifetime learning about. Seasons change, seeds fail or thrive, and just when you think you know it all, you realize how much there still is to learn. Direct Energy’s Gardening Series is a follow-along guide to embrace the beauty and challenges involved in being a gardener. As a craft that requires patience, creativity, and endurance, gardening can be enjoyed by those of all ages, and is one of the most satisfying ways to spend an early morning or late afternoon. Follow along as we show you how to begin, which herbs grow the best, and other tips on how to plant a garden that will flourish under your care.
In our first installment of Direct Energy’s Gardening Series, we shared the bare basics on what you’ll need to get started with gardening. Covering the bases means you’ll be ready to set your green vision into motion, and grow the plants, foods, herbs and flowers, you want to manifest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that the, “Earth laughs in flowers.” Their explosions of color, form and fragrance bring so much beauty to multiple aspects of our lives. We start our garden journey with the basics of growing flowers, and share multiple ways you can embrace and experiment with a garden full of blooming flora.
Like recipes for the kitchen, growing flowers are as diverse as anyone can imagine. From natives to bulbs, and roses to wildflowers, we share a few tips on how to add more color to your garden, and to your life.
What Sort of Space Are You Working With?
Depending on the sort of real estate you have established for gardening, you’ll want to decide what you’ll put where.
Will large pots on a balcony of your apartment hold a citrus tree, or a rotation of annual flowers? Do you have room to grow large bushy perennials that bloom and attract butterflies and bees? Will your widow boxes be full of blooming geraniums or fresh herbs?
If you are a lover of roses, then you’ll need a good amount of space to plant more than a few. Roses require air movement around their branches and nice size holes dug for their roots.
They also require tending to, in terms of pruning and fertilizing. Rose gardens are designed for optimal blooming and require lots of space as a result. If you do plant roses, be sure and leave a little space around them.
Gather some ideas before you head to the nursery. It can be overwhelming, and you may end up buying more than you have room for, simply because their display of flowers are too hard to resist!
What’s the Difference Between Annuals and Perennials?
A perennial plant is one that lives from year to year, from season to season. It blooms when the plant is ready to, which means that it won’t bloom each and every month of the year.
Perennials that are native to your area are an excellent choice in plants, as they will bloom more than most plants, attract your local and native bees and butterflies, and require less water and maintenance.
Annuals, on the other hand, are the flowers you find at nurseries that are typically exploding with color, have a short but prolific growing season, and will host flashy color for you for a short time before dying. Pansies, marigolds, impatiens, petunias, and zinnias are examples of annuals.
If you are a gardener that enjoys instant color instead of waiting, then annuals might be for you.
Depending on your soil and where you live, a flower like a geranium or hydrangea might be a perennial in some states, or annual in others. Roses are typically perennials, and return in bloom year after year.
For those who want little pots and flower boxes full of color, then annuals are the way to go. You can fill up your cart at the nursery this weekend with color, and expect that color to last in your pots for 6 weeks minimum when adequately cared for.
For those living in climates where water usage must be considered, opt for flowering perennials that won’t require as much maintenance and water.
Wildflowers are one of my favorite flowers to grow because of their strange, delicate beauty, and their ephemeral appearance in the garden. They self-seed, the butterflies love them, and they are the first signs that spring has arrived. They also do quite well as cut flowers in vases.
Wildflowers are rather hardy and don’t require much fuss to get started. In most cases, you will rake the seed in, and let nature take its course. Since they are “wild,” they are adapted to the climate you live in, making them an excellent addition to a larger plot of garden where a wild, cottage style look is desired.
Select a location that receives 6 or more hours of sun a day. You’ll want to remove all weeds and grass from the location where you wish to plant the seeds. Take a rake and loosen the soil. Scattering seed is usually recommended, as planting too deep can result in unsatisfactory results.
If you live in the northern United States, you’ll want to sew your wildflowers after the last frost date in early spring. This allow them to safely take root without the threat of root freeze.
For those who live in southern states, you want to sew the seeds around Thanksgiving time. The key is to get them in the ground and established before the threat of any freezes. Even if your area experiences snow or freezes, the seeds will be safe as they will emerge to grow and bloom in the spring.
There are hundreds of bulbs, corms, and rhizomes on the market to bring your spring garden to life. Irises, lily of the valley, cannas, and gingers are grown from rhizomes. Bulbs produce daffodils, tulips, alliums, crocus and hyacinths. Freesias and gladiolas are grown from corms.
The time to plant bulbs is around Thanksgiving time. It’s important to get them into the ground before the threat of snow or freezing. Like a bear, they sleep all winter long, and come spring, you’ll see tiny green shoots emerge from the ground.
Within weeks, long green stems will form, and a flowering bud will appear. This is one of the most joyous sites in the spring garden.
With so many choices of flowers, you can easily find plants that suit your space and have a flourishing garden for you and your family to enjoy!