What is a garden without flowers? A few fresh blooms along the garden path or on the kitchen table brighten our days and help to lure the pollinators that ensure our gardens are fruitful all season long.
Annuals are flowers that bloom and go to seed in the same year. With the exception of those that self-sow (re-seed on their own in the garden bed), these last only one year. Saving seeds from annual flowers is a great way to ensure you have them around every year.
Annual. Calendula’s resinous leaves and flowers can be used to make salves. The flowers are edible and make a bright addition to salads. The beautiful c-shaped seeds of calendula are also easy to collect and can be saved for planting next season. Some may self-seed on their own.
55 days. Minty green foliage topped with loads of orange and yellow blooms.
Calendula, Pink surprise
55 days. Orange ruffled blooms with salmon pink centers. Unique blooms that contrast beautifully with blues and greens in the garden.
Annual, up to 4-5’. Cosmos are excellent cut flowers and perform nicely in the back border of flower beds or interspersed in the vegetable garden. Space seedlings 9-12” apart and pinch back the central stalk to promote more branching. Cut when first flower on a branch is just opening. Remove spent blossoms to promote continuous blooms. Prefers well-drained soil and full sun.
Cosmos, Sensation mix
75 days. A beautiful mix of magenta, purple, and white blooms.
Annual. Space plants 12” apart. Remove spent blossoms to encourage continuous blooms. Pinch back to create a bushier plant (cut back the central stem to about 3/4 height when plant is well-established in the garden but not yet blooming, ~12” tall). Flowers are edible, just remove the green from the base of the blossom because it can be bitter. Flowers can also be preserved by hanging upside down in a dry room. Save the seeds at the end of the summer for next year’s garden.
60 days. Tall plants produce prolific bright yellow and orange blossoms with some creamy yellow blooms that fill the garden from mid-summer through fall. Up to 4′.
Annual, up to 6’! A farm favorite. These bodacious plants love the heat and produce hundreds of bright orange 3” blooms from mid-summer to frost. They are excellent along a fence or the back edge of a garden. They can also be planted in the middle of the garden to provide some shade to heat sensitive plants grown in the summer like fennel or lettuces. On cool dewy mornings in fall we often find bumble bees sleeping on the blossoms.
Mexican sunflower, Red Torch
90 days. Bright red blossoms on 4-6″ stems. Plants are fuzzy and can grow quite tall.
Annual, up to 1’, 2’ spreading. The leaves, flowers, and green seed pods of nasturtiums are all edible and add a peppery punch to salads and omelets. The flowers are especially stunning arranged atop a summer cake or ringed around a berry pie with ice cream. Plants are sprawling and can be hand-trellised, though they do not have tendrils to climb on their own. Thrive in well-drained soil and full sun, but will also tolerate some afternoon shade.
Nasturtium, Jewel mix
65 days. Beautiful blend of red, orange, yellow, and creamy white flowers.
Annual, up to 6″. Low growing and heat & drought tolerant. Also called moss rose. Perfect for planting in containers and rock gardens.
Portulaca, Double flowered mix
65 days. A bright assortment of double flowers in yellow, orange, pink, and white.
Annual, up to 3′. A member of the sage genus, these like full sun and fairly dry soil .
Salvia, Blue bedder
85 days. Deep blue blooms on arching spikes. We love them as a cut flower with the bright oranges and yellows from the garden. They are also so lovely in the evening as the sun turns golden and sets.
Annual, up to 2′. An everlasting dried flower that can work equally well in a vase. Cut stems and hang upside down to dry when almost all of the flowers are open. Also called wavyleaf sea lavender. Full sun and well-drained soil.
Statice, Pacific Mix
110 days. Papery blooms in rich tones of yellow, magenta, white, purple, and rose.
Annual, up to 3′. Another welcome addition to the everlasting flower crew. These blooms are standout in the garden as well as in the vase. Cut when double blooms are not quite fully open and hang upside down in a well-ventilated space to preserve.
Big double blooms in shades of pink, cream, white, and rose on strong stems. Harvest before the double blooms are fully open for best results when drying.
Sunflowers are the highlight of the summer garden. Plant in full sun with well-drained soil. Space plants 12-24” apart.
90 days. These queens of the garden can grow up to 10 feet tall with bright yellow flowers and brown centers. Multiple flower heads per stalk.
Perennials are plants that will continue to bloom for many years after they are planted. They store energy in their roots, bulbs, or tubers and re-emerge each spring.
Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa
Perennial, up to 4′ when mature. Another one we love for many reasons. Milkweeds are the host plans for monarch caterpillars. This variety also has outrageously beautiful bright orange blooms that upon close inspection look like tiny orchids. These like the sun and fairly dry soil. A. tuberosa is also called “pleurisy root” for it’s early use in treating lung inflammation.
Echinacea, Purple coneflower
Perennial, up to 2’. 90 days. A well-loved native to Ohio. Long purple petals hang from large copper-colored cones. The blooms attract a wide variety of pollinators and the seed heads bring in songbirds. Used medicinally to boost immune function. Blooms summer through fall, sometimes with a second bloom if first blossoms are removed early. Enjoys full to partial sun, and is well-adapted to heat and drought. Space plants at least 12” apart, divide clumps every 2-3 years.
Leucanthemum, Shasta daisy
Perennial, up to 2′. 90 days. THE classic daisy. White petals around a yellow disk. These are not native to North America, but we always had a small patch growing near our house and I often think of their blooms as an official sign of summer.
Penstemon digitalis, Foxglove beardtongue
Perennial, up to 4′. I love this one and so do the bumble bees! This native does really well in the shady understory. The leaves are purple-green with long, thin spikes that reach up to 4′. The flowers come in shades of white to light purple, with fine hairs on the inside. They look like small foxglove blooms. Also a nice addition to a woodland bouquet.
Yarrow, Colorado mix
Perennial, up to 2’. 90 days. Found throughout much of the United States in prairies, field edges, and old pastures. Ferny grey-green leaves have a spicy sage aroma and are topped by a cluster of tiny flowers comprising a larger flat-topped flower head. Colorado Mix blooms in shades of peach, cream, rose, salmon, and white. Flowers from mid-summer to early fall. Yarrow has been used medicinally as a poultice on wounds and as a digestive aid. Spreads modestly through divisions. Love full sun and dry soil.
Yellow Prairie Coneflower
Perennial, up to 3’. 90 days. Native to the prairies of Ohio. Long drooping yellow petals surround a tall brown central cone on slender 3’ stalks. It’s common name “Mexican Hat” comes from it’s resemblance to a tall sombrero. Loves full sun and is unfazed by heat and drought. Space plants 12-18” apart.