The Q&A Archives: Planting flowers around the base of a small tree

Question: What flowers can I plant around the base of a small flowering plum tree? I live in area code 92563.



Answer: There are so many choices! Pansies come in shades and hues of red, white, blue, purple, yellow and orange. Some have faces, others do not. Flower sizes range from small blooms less than 1 inch across up to giant flowers 4 1/2 inches in diameter. No other flower outshines them for a continuous spring display.

Violas are often considered miniature pansies, but they are actually hardy perennials. Colors and markings are similar to pansies. "Johnny-jump-up" violas are the best choice for spring blooms. These work well combined with bulbs in rock gardens or other naturalized areas.

Wallflowers come in red, white, yellow, cream, lemon, apricot, pink and purple. They are one of the most underutilized of all of the spring-blooming flowers.

Iceland poppies are another wonderful performer. Their large, delicate flowers form best in cool, sunny springs. They display shades of red, pink, white, orange and yellow. They are perennial, so they can be left in year after year if the entire flower bed is not replaced.

Dianthuses are among my favorite flowers. They are considered hardy annuals, but selective breeding has produced some very showy plants that are short-lived perennials. Individual dianthus plants grow 12 inches high and 12 inches wide. They can be planted now and will create a beautiful spring display. If they are sheared back, they resume blooming in the fall. White, pink, red, lavender, maroon and mixtures of these colors make brilliant displays soon after the snow melts away. They are some of the longest lasting and showiest of the spring flowers. Sweet Williams are biennial dianthuses that are shorter with smaller flowers.

Forget-me-nots, or myosotis, produce clusters of tiny flowers. Their colors range from deep blue to pale blue, to pink or to white. Brunaria is a spring-blooming perennial with flowers very similar to forget-me-nots. Choose them for areas that are not going to be replanted each year.

Lunaria, also known as honesty or money plant, has beautiful lavender, purple or white flowers in the spring. It is slightly taller and is best used as a background planting or mixed with taller bulbs. An added bonus is the translucent silvery circles (money) that appear after the blossoms fade.

Taller plants include foxgloves, lupines, delphiniums and hollyhocks. Foxgloves grow 3 to 4 feet high. Each spike is covered with funnel-shaped blooms that open first at the bottom of the spike and continue blooming up the entire length of the stem.

Hope these suggestions are helpful!

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