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Past Articles Library | 3 Easy Flowers to Grow this Summer Season

Yes, we have all been beginning gardeners and while we have all made mistakes, very few of us will stick with gardening if we constantly fail. These 3 flowers will make sure that you find success in your gardening journey.

Sunflowers (Helianthus)

While growing sunflowers is not a difficult thing, what I really like this plant is its diversity. Yes, I said diversity. You may not realize that the sunflower comes in several different heights and some assorted colors.

The one that most people are familiar with is the giant sunflower. The Helianthus annus reach a mature height of 9 to 16 feet. Due to their height, this variety creates a wonderful living screen or backdrop for your landscape.

The next type of sunflower is the dwarf. This variety can reach a height of 1 to 4 feet, which makes it a wonderful choice for small spaces that need a bit of color in that 1 to 4 foot vertical space.

Double sunflowers are those that have fluffy center, which is a trade-off for not producing any pollen. This type of sunflower adds that splash of texture in the vertical space of 2 to 6 feet, which is sometimes hard to fill.

Believe it or not, there is also a perennial version of the sunflower but…… make this plant a perennial there is a trade-off. Instead of this plant producing one big flower, it does produce several small flowers that last 8 to 12 weeks. While this perennial sunflower does not grow everywhere, it will thrive in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. The negative side of this perennial though is the mature height, which can range from 1 to 10 feet. If you are the type of gardener that likes to plant once and forget it then this variety of sunflower is for you.

While seeing a sunflower, regardless of size, always puts a smile on my face due to its bright yellow color, I know that this is not everyone’s favorite color. To address this issue, there are now specialty sunflowers that are in numerous colors and combinations. But if this is something that you desire for your garden space, keep in mind that their mature height ranges in 4 to 8 feet.

When it comes to general planting of sunflowers, one of the key limiting factors is the amount of sunlight required for proper growth. In this case, any type of sunflower requires at least 5 hours of direct sunlight. The remaining needs are pretty flexible. They can grow in any type of soil as long as it is well draining. Annual sunflowers should be directly planted into the garden space after your local frost free date but if you have a short growing season, consider starting them 8 weeks prior to your local frost free date.

On the other hand, perennial types of sunflowers should be planted either in the spring or fall.

If you are growing giant sunflowers that we are all familiar with then you should space the seeds so that there is 2 to 3 feet between plants. On the other hand, smaller types can be planted 6 inches apart.

The one thing that all sunflower plants will need is support. While unsupported plants will lean on other plants, it is better to provide some form of trellis or poles for the plants to be grown up. This will reduce the stress on the sunflower plants, surrounding plant material and will reduce the chances of the sunflowers breaking due to wind stress or the weight of the seed head.  

Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)

Ok, I am a bit partial to this annual, which is considered a beautiful annual flower and depending why it is grown an herb. The peppery taste of the flowers on a salad is delicious and really impresses your guests when they see these edible flowers. As easy as they are to grow, they are just as simple to take care of.

Since this flower is an annual, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones is not important but what is important is your local frost free date. This date will be an indication as to whether you need to start indoors to extend the season or directly seed into your garden space.

If you decide to get a jump on the growing season, count back 4 to 6 weeks from your local frost free date. Once you have that date, you can plan on the planting process. On the other hand, if you decide to directly seed make sure that your local frost free date has passed and the soil has had a chance to warm.

The best environment for this annual flower is one that receives full sun and a soil that is moist but also well draining. After you have selected the best site in your garden for this plant, prepare the garden space and plant the seeds so that they are 10 to 12 inches apart. The planting of the nasturtium seeds is a little different. You do not want to completely cover the seed but plant it so that only have is in the soil. Once all the seeds have been planted, mist the area with water until the soil is evenly moist. In about 7 to 10 days, you will see evidence that your seeds are germinating.

A unique aspect of this plant is the fact that it thrives in poor soil. In doing so, it makes a great flower to plant in that area of your garden where nothing seems to grow. Also, this annual flower will continue to produce blooms up to the first frost.  

Ornamental Onions (Allium)

If you are looking for that unique plant then you have found it. The ornamental onion produces slender leaves that can add texture to a landscape design but what really is the showstopper is the flower head. This flower head reminds me of what one sees when they see a wild onion growing in the lawn but this flower head is on steroids. Depending on the variety, the flower head can defer in shape and color.

This perennial is at home in the garden in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. The bulbs of this plant are planted in fall and the decorative flower head appears between spring and summer when few plants are blooming. This perennial plant also contains several varieties that can range in height from 6 to 36 inches.

As unique as this plant is, the limiting feature of this perennial is the limited color palate that the flower head comes in, which is pink, white, lavender, and purple.


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Is space a problem for you?

Then you might want to consider growing your vegetables, fruit, citrus, or annual color in tubs, 1/2 wine barrels, window boxes or hanging baskets.

All make great areas to grow columnar fruit, citrus, beans, tomatoes, herbs, or even onions or lettuce.

Get creative! What can you think of that would grow well in a small space?

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