Think you have a brown thumb? These easy-care flowers will help you gain confidence in the garden. Annuals such as sunflowers and zinnias are easy to start from seed, perennials require little care and return each year, and bulbs are practically foolproof when planted properly. Start with just one, or select a few and get growing!

Sunflowers

Zones: Annual

Colors: Yellows, browns, and mixed

Height: 3-16 feet

  • Blooms during summer
  • Most varieties are drought and heat tolerant
  • Attracts bees, birds, and butterflies
  • Thrives in full sun
  • Tolerates most soil types (except water-logged)
  • May require support to prevent breakage

Zinnias

Zones: Annual

Colors: Shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, and white

Height: 20-24 inches

  • Blooms during summer
  • Offers varieties in shape (daisies, dahlias, spiders, poms)
  • Attracts butterflies
  • Likes rich, well-drained soil
  • Has moderate water requirements
  • Grows best in full sun

Marigolds

Zones: Annual

Colors: Shades of yellow, red, gold, and mixed

Height: 6-36 inches

  • Blooms spring, summer and fall
  • Grows quickly from seed
  • Helps repel mosquitoes
  • Prefers well-drained soil, grows well in dry or sandy gardens
  • Water well, allow to dry between waterings
  • Should be grown in full sun

Cosmos

Zones: Annual

Colors: Orange, pink, white

Height: Varieties 18-60 inches

  • Blooms spring, summer and fall
  • Grows quickly from seed
  • Helps repel mosquitoes
  • Prefers well-drained soil, grows well in dry or sandy gardens
  • Water well, allow to dry between waterings
  • Should be grown in full sun

Morning Glories

Zones: Annual

Colors: White, purple, pink, red, blue varieties

Height: 6 to 15 feet

  • Blooms appear in late summer or early fall
  • Readily self-sowing — be careful where you plant
  • Use to cover walls/trellises
  • Attracts birds and butterflies
  • Seeds are highly toxic if ingested
  • Give them moderately fertile, well-drained soil
  • Water weekly during dry periods
  • Plant morning glories in full sun

Sweet Peas

Zones: Annual

Colors: Blue, pink, purple, red, white

Height: 3 to 8 feet

  • Highly fragrant flowers
  • Bloom spring through early summer in hot climates, into fall in cooler areas
  • Seeds resemble edible sweet peas but are toxic if eaten
  • Prefer loamy, well-drained soil
  • Keep moist, water at the base
  • Grow in full sun
  • Needs supportive fence or trellis
  • If grown from seed, soak seeds the night before planting to soften tough outer shell

Nasturtium

Zones: Annual

Colors: Shades of orange, red, yellow, cream

Height: 8-10 feet

  • Quick growing and colorful
  • Blooms from May until September
  • Edible leaves and flowers (recipe: Pan-Seared Halibut with Nasturtium Butter)
  • Needs well-drained soil
  • Water regularly, but don’t over-water
  • Plant in full sun

Pansies

Zones: Grown as annuals (can be perennial/biennial in Zones 6-10)

Colors: Variety of colors

Height: 6-9 inches

  • In warmer climates pansies will bloom throughout winter and early spring
  • Are widely available at nurseries in six packs
  • Attract butterflies
  • Like rich, well-drained soil
  • Need regular watering
  • Will bloom in sun or partial shade
  • Grow best in temperatures 45-75 degrees F

Snapdragons

Zones: Grown as annuals (can be perennial in Zones 5-10)

Colors: White, yellow, pink, red, orange, peach, purple, and violet

Height: 6-15 inches

  • Bloom from spring through fall in cool summer growing conditions
  • Attract butterflies
  • Popular in cottage-style gardens
  • Prefer well-drained soil
  • Water regularly at the base of the plant
  • Best when grown in full sun

Impatiens

Zones: Grown as annuals (can be perennial in Zones 10-11)

Colors: Variety

Height: 6-24 inches

  • Bloom non-stop from June until frost
  • Attract birds
  • Are great for growing along the edges of a path
  • Prefer loamy soil
  • Keep them moist, but not waterlogged
  • Do best in part or full shade
  • Will grow taller if planted closer together

Wax Begonias

Zones: Grown as annuals (can be perennial in Zones 10-11)

Colors: Orange, pink, white, yellow

Height: 6-12 inches

  • Bloom summer and fall
  • Good for hanging baskets, containers, or beds
  • Varieties produce single or double blooms with ruffled or smooth petals
  • Require fertile, amended soil
  • Water consistently, but don’t overdo it
  • Perform best in partial sun to shade

Coneflowers

Zones: 3-9

Colors: Yellow, orange, white, purple, pink, bicolor and more

Height: Up to 6 feet

  • Will bloom for months
  • Make great cut flowers
  • Attract pollinators and birds
  • Sow seeds in spring or fall
  • Like rich, well-drained soil
  • Will tolerate drought
  • Plant in full sun

Lupines

Zones: 4-8 (often grown as an annual)

Colors: Blue, white, yellow, pink, and purple

Height: Up to 4 feet

  • Well suited for use in borders
  • Produces seeds that will self-sow
  • Attracts butterflies
  • Likes average, well-drained soil — best without fertilizer
  • Provide deep watering, and allow to dry in between
  • Loosen soil deeply when planting for its long tap roots
  • Plant in full sun in cool climates, filtered light in hot ones

Dianthus

Zones: 3-9

Colors: Shades of red, purple, pink, and white

Height: Most 10-20 inches, varieties up to 3 feet

  • Showy, fragrant flowers (clove-scented)
  • Blooms from May to August
  • Deer resistant
  • Attractive evergreen foliage
  • Great in rock gardens or as edging at the front of a border
  • Plant in well-drained soil
  • Water at the base when dry
  • Grow in full sun to light shade

Fuchsias

Zones: 10-11 (grown as an annual elsewhere)

Colors: Shades of purple, magenta, pink, red, and white

Height: Varieties 1-8 feet

  • Great in hanging baskets
  • Can be overwintered indoors
  • Attracts hummingbirds
  • Grow best in the shade (do not like heat, humidity, or drought)
  • Prefers moist, but well-drained soil
  • Prune back to encourage new growth
  • Watch out for fuchsia mites (especially in So Cal and the Bay Area)

Geraniums (Pelargonium)

Zones: 10-11 (grown as an annual elsewhere)

Colors: White, pink, red, lavender, purple, magenta, and rose

Height: 3-24 inches

  • Low-maintenance color from spring until frost
  • Good for use in window boxes, hanging baskets, containers, or beds
  • Attracts birds
  • Thrive in rich, well-drained soil
  • Like to be watered regularly, but don’t over-water
  • Prefer full sun/afternoon shade in hot climates

Lavender

Zones: 4-9

Colors: Shades of purple and lavender, some white and pink

Height: 20-24 inches

  • Technically an herb, this hardy plant requires minimal care once established
  • Blooms from late June through August
  • Attracts bees and butterflies
  • Lavandin variety helps keep mosquitoes away
  • Requires well-drained soil
  • Should be watered deeply, but infrequently (drought tolerant)
  • Grows best in full sun

Dahlias

Zones: 7-10

Colors: Pink, purple, red, orange, yellow, and white

Height: 1 to 6 feet

  • Thrive in most climates, although not too well in hot and humid
  • Blooms will appear as quickly as 8 weeks after planting tubers
  • Wide variety of shapes (spiky, single, double, pompon, anemone)
  • Grow in well-drained, sandy soil
  • Plant in full sun
  • Plant tubers in the spring
  • Provide 2 or 3 deep waterings a week after growth emerges above ground

Daffodils

Zones: 3-9

Colors: Yellow, orange, white

Height: 6-30 inches

  • Bloom in late winter or early spring
  • Can be planted in beds or containers
  • Mix well with other spring flowering bulbs
  • Plant bulbs in fall to bloom in spring
  • Provide well-drained soil
  • Like regular watering in spring and fall
  • Tolerate full sun or part shade

Daylilies

Zones: 3-10

Colors: Shades of Yellow, red, pink, purple, and melon

Height: 12-48 inches

  • Flower continuously over a long period of time
  • Virtually pest free
  • Excellent for massing in large areas
  • Tolerant of heat and humidity
  • Plant in spring
  • Grow in rich, well-drained soil
  • Provide deep watering in summer
  • Flower best in full sun

Ornamental Onions (Allium)

Zones: 4-8

Colors: Lavender, purple, pink, and white

Height: 6-36 inches

  • Undemanding bulb great for rock gardens, cottage gardens or meadows
  • Relatively resistant to deer, voles, chipmunks, and rabbits
  • Bloom just as the seasons change from spring to summer
  • Plant bulbs in the fall
  • Provide well-drained soil
  • Grow in full sun
  • Like dry to medium moisture

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How to Start a Flower Garden

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