Everything in this slideshow
Add Early Spring Color
Get an early start on spring with a generous helping of bulbs that pop into bloom just as winter starts to fade. Here, the cheerful yellow flowers of ‘Little Gem’ narcissus combine beautifully with blue Chionodoxa. Plant both in the fall for spring flowers.
- See gorgeous early spring bloomers.
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Try Something Different
Just because you might not have heard of a plant before doesn’t necessarily mean it’s hard to grow. Take Fritillaria for example. This gorgeous spring-flowering bulb isn’t that well known, but it comes in a variety of sizes and colors and makes a great companion for other tulips and daffodils. Here, Fritillaria persica, or Persian lily, adds extra interest to a bed of red tulips.
- Learn more about fritillaria in our Plant Encyclopedia.
Mix Herbs and Flowers
Create a colorful and fragrant spring garden by mixing flowering herbs and perennials that bloom together in May and June. In this border, chives and lavender bloom in front of Amsonia, bearded iris, and peony.
- Browse easy-to-grow herbs.
Use Roses Generously
Roses, particularly shrub and landscape varieties, blend well with annuals or perennials from spring to fall. In this garden, a bright pink shrub rose is a good partner to iris.
- Learn about the most fragrant roses for your garden.
Rely on Annuals
Hot, sunny conditions are no match for annuals such as petunia and pentas. These two plants are super easy to grow and will bloom nonstop from May to September in containers or borders. They both also attract bees and butterflies.
Raise the Flag
Who can resist a red, white, and blue garden? This flower-packed fence line contains just three varieties, so it’s easy to duplicate the look. Surround ‘Scarlet’ Flower Carpet roses with white sweet alyssum and dark blue lobelia. This trio will bloom through the fourth of July.
You don’t need to live near the equator to enjoy the beauty of tropical plants. As long as the temperatures are hot and humid, tropical plants will reward you with colorful foliage and flowers all summer long. This grouping includes Alocasia, coleus, impatiens, African mask plant, elephant’s ear, and Cuphea.
Brighten the Shade
Shady spots in your garden don’t have to be barren and boring. There’s a host of shade-dwelling annual and perennial flowers that will add instant impact to any location. Here, a carpet of bright green sweet woodruff fronts a bed of Japanese hakone grass and a cluster of blue- and chartreuse-leaf hosta varieties.
- See our favorite shade perennials.
Surefire Shade Combo: Hosta + Astilbe
With their fernlike foliage and lovely, lacy spires of blossoms in shades of white, pink, red, and purple, shade-loving astilbes make the perfect foil for additional beds filled with hosta. In fact, astilbe — sometimes called false spirea — and hosta are two of the very best shade-garden companions. They look absolutely wonderful mass-planted together in slightly shady locations, especially with variegated foliage and different hues of flowers.
Top Shade Perennials
See which perennials will shine even in shady spots.
Mix Flower Shapes
Add interest to your summer garden by mixing flowers with different shapes together. For example, here the wide, trumpet-shape blooms of ‘Stella d Oro’ daylily mingle beautifully with the dainty white flower stalks of ‘Husker Red’ penstemon. The result looks like a living bouquet.
Choose Your Favorite Colors
Having a beautiful garden in the early summer doesn’t mean you have to plant a rainbow of colors. Instead, make a bigger impression by sticking with different versions of the same color. For example, only five species that flower in shades of blue, purple, and lavender were included in these narrow borders. Delphinium, foxglove, allium, agapanthus, and sea lavender are a blue ribbon combination.
Pretty Purple Pairing: Veronica + Bearded Iris + Feather Bluestar + Catmint + Chives
This spring bed is full of textures and contrasts. As you consider your purple garden, keep in mind your growing conditions. Just for fun, incorporate something unexpected into the design, such as chives, which also double as edibles.
Most hydrangeas bloom from midsummer to fall, making them ideal partners for mixed flower borders. In this garden, a large ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea anchors a border packed with perennials and annuals. Other flowers here include begonia, sweet alyssum, Oxalis, phlox, sedum, Lythrum, Torenia, and marigold.
- Find the perfect hydrangea variety.
Shady Hydrangea Combo: Lacecap + ‘Endless Summer’ + Golden Japanese forest grass
An empty, shade-filled spot can be the perfect place to play up the contrast in color and foliage between just a few types of plants. Here, delicate lacecap hydrangea pairs with the full blooms of ‘Endless Summer’, and is complemented by the brightening effect of golden Japanese forestgrass.
Must-Try Hydrangea Varieties
Take the guesswork out of choosing hydrangeas with these tried-and-true varieties.
Mix Shrubs and Flowers
Make shrubs the backbone of your flower border. They add color and structure to your garden even when everything else is not in bloom. There are also a wide variety of colors to choose from. In this border, the yellow flowers of perennial Heliopsis helianthoides, commonly called ox-eye daisy, are the perfect summer complement to the foliage of dwarf golden privet.
Keep Butterflies in Mind
Butterflies, bees, and other pollinators will flock to your yard when you include a generous supply of nectar-rich flowers in your garden. These creatures are active from spring to fall but are busiest in late summer when the temperatures heat up. Two butterfly favorites include black-eyed Susan and hardy ageratum.
Want a garden that’s both colorful and delicious? Then tuck brightly colored vegetables alongside your annual and perennial flowers. In this bed, wide swaths of chartreuse black-seeded Simpson lettuce weave in and out patches of blue viola that are also edible.
Increase the Color
Double your pleasure by selecting variegated plants with colorful stripes, blotches, or margins. Variegated iris, Iris palida ‘Variegata’, for example, provides a vertical accent of green-and-white striped leaves from spring to fall. Here, it’s paired with the Russian sage that develops clouds of blue flowers in late summer and fall.
Plan for Drought
Sooner or later every part of the country is subject to periods of drought. To prepare for the worst and still have a colorful garden, choose plants that thrive when it’s dry. This colorful bed includes anise hyssop and creeping sedum. Both grow and bloom even when rainfall is scarce.
Keep It Simple
Creating a colorful border can be super easy when you plant different colors of the same species together. Here for example, a mixture of flowering cabbages was all that was needed to give this fall border a big boost of color.
Pair Annuals and Herbs
Never underestimate herbs. These fragrant and colorful plants mix well with annuals, perennials, and roses. In this border, tri-color sage and pale pink sweet alyssum make a gorgeous team at the edge of a path or walkway.
Try the Classics
You can always depend on the classics, especially if you’re a new gardener looking for easy-care flowers that provide instant gratification. Marigolds and zinnias for example, have both been around for generations and still deserve a prominent spot in beds, borders, and containers.
Plant a Nonstop Flower Show
For all-season color, interplant annual flowers with reblooming varieties of perennials. The annuals will keep the garden colorful while the perennials come in and out of bloom. In this walkway border, annuals such as marigold, calendula, and zinnia are teamed with perennial coreopsis and daylily.
Winning Border Combo: Peonies + Lady’s Mantle + Catmint + Allium + Jasmine
A container of tender jasmine spills a heavenly fragrance from atop the stone wall of the back of this border. ‘Sarah Bernhardy’ and ‘Karl Rosenfeld’ peonies, Allium ‘Glovemaster’, catmint (Nepeta x faassenii ‘Six Hills Giant’), and lady’s mantle put on a dazzling late-spring performance.
Grow a Cutting Garden
If you have the space, always plant a few extra flowers that you can cut for indoor bouquets. Two of your best options are coneflower and black-eyed Susan. These rugged perennials produce armloads of flowers on tall, easy-to-cut stems from late summer to fall.
- Get a complete list of the best perennials for cutting.
Keep Foliage in Mind
Instant impact! That’s what you’ll get when you add colorful foliage plants to your beds, border, and containers. There’s no waiting for the plants to mature and bloom; all you need to do is plant them and enjoy. In this border the rich purple foliage of Alternanthera contrasts beautifully with the spikey, gray-green leaves of cardoon.
- Browse more plants with colorful foliage.
Cover the Ground
The best way to keep weeds out of your garden is to plant groundcovers that spread quickly and smother potential invaders. Plus, they’ll give your landscape an extra boost of color. This brilliant shade border is kept maintenance-free with a thick planting of silver-leaf Lamium and two varieties of hosta.
Plan a Fall Finale
Your garden can be as cheerful and bright in the autumn as it is in the spring and summer. It’s easy if you leave room for fall favorites. Here, viola, chrysanthemum, aster, dusty miller, and two varieties of kale fill a bed with color and texture.
- Get more great fall landscaping ideas.
Favorite Fall Combo: Japanese Maple + Virburnum + Dwarf Evergreens + Sedum
Japanese maples, a standard fall stunner, pair beautifully with the reds of viburnum and sedum, while drawf evergreens provide a balance of green.
You don’t have to stop enjoying your garden when winter comes. Just be sure to include some plants with sturdy flower stalks that will provide interest in the wintry landscape. For example, this border contains ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum and ‘Hameln’ ornamental grass. Both bloom in the late fall and will hold their faded blooms all winter long.