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Flower Bed Plants

If you are just beginning to plan your flower bed and you've never done one before, you are not alone. Many people are just discovering gardening and are questioning what flower bed plants they can use.

We all have to begin somewhere! And don't worry… you don't necessarily need to limit yourself to pansies and marigolds. While they definitely have earned their place in the flower bed, there are plenty of more unusual choices to keep them company.

There are all sorts of plants to choose from that you can put in your flower bed. Trees, landscaping shrubs, perennials, annuals and herbs are the primary groups you'll be choosing from.

Be sure to check your hardiness zone so you choose plants that will grow well in your area. This is more important if you are purchasing plants or seeds online… most local garden centers will only stock plants that do well where you live. If you have any questions, they may be very helpful to you.

Trees and Shrubs

Some people like to put in small trees or shrubs to give some height to their flower bed. Small Japanese maples offer shape, color and texture, and the same can be said for shrubs like nandina or azaleas.

These larger specimens will be used sparingly in the flower bed… the vast majority of your planting will be from the remaining three plant groups. Junipers can also lend a textural element to your flower bed, setting off your more delicate flowers that surround it.

Perennial Flowers

Perennials are a good choice for flower bed plants because they come back every year. They come in a wide variety of colors, heights and textures to create a flower bed that is a treat to look at all season long. Perennials do require some maintenance, but then, most plants do.

Perennials like daylilies, Shasta daisies, calla lilies, etc need regular deadheading, and some will need to be divided every few years to stop overcrowding.

Other perennials like delphiniums need replacing every few years as they seem to run out of steam. Yarrow is a colorful choice that has unusual flat bracts of flowers. These beautiful old-fashioned additions need to be sheared back after flowering so they will offer another colorful show later in the season.

Annual Flowers

Annuals are plants that won't survive your winters. Pansies, primroses, marigolds, petunias and other commonly found flowers at your local garden center are annuals. They also need deadheading and the occasional trim if they grow a bit leggy as the season progresses.

Since they don't survive the winter, most people feel comfortable yanking them from the flower bed when they are past their prime and replacing them with a new annual that peaks at that point in the growing season. This is why you see the petunias and pansies removed in early fall and replaced with flowering kale. These popular choices for flower bed plants never fail to add color and interest to a flower bed.


Herbs can give you some surprisingly lovely flowers for your garden bed. Choosing them for flower bed plants will lend some uniqueness to your garden. Lavender is a fragrant flowering herb that is very popular.

Rosemary can make a lovely small plant or shrub, depending on your growing zone, and it has a lovely fragrant needle leaf that is often accented by small colorful flowers. Thyme comes in many different varieties, and they are all low-growing, so they fit nicely between larger specimens as ground cover. All summer you will be enchanted by its tiny leaves and flowers that smell oh so good when you brush against them.

Other lesser known herbs can add some textural interest. Valerian is a light, airy plant that has tiny white flowers, and the sweet fragrance of Sweet Woodruff is a magical addition if you have a shady spot. Angelica grows tall enough to make a large specimen in the garden, and has large umbels of flowers that turn into attractive sprays of seeds.

As you can see, there are so many flower garden plants available, your biggest problem may be choosing the ones you like best. Enjoy your journey into flowers and gardening… it may turn into a lifelong hobby.

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