what to plant - Knowledgebase Question

Crofton, MD (Zone 7A)
Question by lapislazuli3
July 24, 2007
What is a good plant to start with for a first time gardener? and it's mid summer by now (July), so what should i plant if i do start now (vegetable or flower)?

Answer from NGA
July 24, 2007


I'd grow flowers and save the veggies for next spring. Here are some easy to grow flowers:
These flowers come in a variety of colors and have fern-like leaves. They grow up to three feet high, are drought tolerant and prefer full sun. You can purchase plants at your garden center or sow seeds in the spring following the last frost of the year. Allow cosmos to bloom and go to seed to have beautiful blooms the following year.

Bachelor Buttons
Bachelor buttons, also known as cornflowers, come in a wide variety of colors and bloom from early spring to fall. Bachelor buttons grow at least a foot wide and need space to spread. They reach heights of three feet, depending on the variety you choose. Read the seed package carefully when buying bachelor buttons to ensure you purchase a species that will fit comfortably into your garden space.

Also known as moss rose, portulacca blooms from early spring to fall. It grows to a height of six inches and continues to flourish for the entire season. Portulacca prefer full sun and comes in hues of orange, rust, red and yellow. When left to propagate, seeds fall into the soil and the following year your garden will be filled with beautiful blooms.

Traditionally, forget-me-nots were blue. Today they come in both blue and white varieties. They bloom only once per year, which makes them an annual, but then go to seed. These beautiful tiny flowers will last for generations and can be thinned and passed on to family and friends. Once forget-me-nots have gone to seed, do not disturb the soil if you wish them to come up the following year.

These beautiful flowers come in a wide variety of hues and colors. They should not be confused with the invasive dame?s rocket, which has only four petals while phlox has five. Phlox blooms profusely from the beginning of June to September. It?s a hearty plant that is completely free from disease. Seeds drop into the soil in fall and produce beautiful, healthy blooms year after year. Phlox has to be thinned annually if you don?t want it to run rampant.

This is a beautiful plant to include in any garden. It has unique blooms of lime green, red, white or yellow. It grows between one and two feet in height and makes a beautiful backdrop for shorter flowers, blooming from early summer to fall. Nicotiana has a low tolerance to drought and needs to be watered frequently. Allow the flowers to go to seed in the fall for a marvelous showing the following year.

Dame?s Rocket
Dame?s rocket is a beautiful plant for any garden. It provides a splash of color in shades of pink, purple, white or violet. At night it releases a delicious fragrance that will drift across the yard on a cool summer breeze. It grows well in all types of soil. Dead-head blooms from mid spring to early summer, leaving the last blooms to go to seed for a fabulous showing the following year. Both plants and blooms are edible if pesticide isn?t applied. Dame?s rocket makes a beautiful, fragrant bouquet and is delightful to have in your home.

Black-eyed-Susan has been a well loved garden flower for generations. It is a member of the aster family and very easy to grow. They come in a variety of colors ranging from yellow with a brown ?eye? to red/yellow with a brown ?eye.? They require no special care but should be planted in well-drained soil. They seed freely and can be divided in the fall. They reach a height between 12 and 24 inches and are closely related to Echinacea. Black-eye-Susan attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. They are drought tolerant and do well in hot, dry climates.

Sweet William
Sweet William belongs to the carnation family. It grows in low mounds, six to eight inches in height and produces flowers of bright pink, purple, red and violet, which are most often variegated. It has a mild fragrance that resembles cloves and is an excellent choice for cut or dried flower arrangements. Sweet William is hardy and grows well in almost any soil that is well-drained. It prefers full sun but will also grow in partial shades in hot climates.

Hope these suggestions give you some ideas for planting your first garden.

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