A. Have you ever had a problem growing flowers and wondered why your flowers don't do well?  Just ask yourself the following questions: What types of flowers should I select, where will they be planted and what are the soil conditions in my beds?  This exercise can avoid spending all your effort (and money) and not achieving the results you expect.  Bed location is of prime importance as it impacts the variety of flowers you should plant.  Location is simply full sun, part sun or full shade.  When buying your plants follow the recommended planting location shown on the plastic label in the pot or ask the garden center staff before purchasing the plants.  Seek advice on plant selection prior to spending a great deal of money on the "wrong plants".  Ask for advice at your garden center or just call your county extension office before purchasing your plants.  Also, consider whether you want perennials or annuals and plants that are native to Texas.  Annuals last only a single growing season but perennials will self-seed and flower again in the next growing season.  Finally, choosing plants native to Texas will provide plants that are well adapted to our area (and hot summers).  Matching plants to their preferred growing location will avoid costly losses.

A second, and often most neglected point is, soil condition and bed preparation.  Soil does not have natural organic matter so usually needs to be amended.  Plants need good soil rich in nutrients to ensure proper growth.  If you have had poor results growing flowers in the past, you might consider having your soil tested.  Testing need not be done every year but might be considered every five years.  Soil samples can be taken to your county extension office for testing at Texas A&M.  Flower beds also need good drainage and this usually requires beds to be built-up above ground level 4-6 inches on average.  Some plants may require higher beds, so ask for advice to be certain.  For bed preparation, use a 3-tine turning fork to "turn over" the existing soil in the bed.  This will loosen and aerate the soil and help young plants become established faster.  Try to turn the soil to the depth of the fork if possible.  Once the bed is turned, next build up the soil 6-8 inches by adding a mixture of organic material to the bed.  If available, use compost but if not, use a mixture of organic peat, cow mature (dry) and some organic humus.  One bag of cow mature and peat per three or four bags of organic humus is a good mixture.  The mixture should be turned into your bed with the turning fork.  Now, you are ready to plant and top dress the bed.

Before planting, plan out your arrangement with the taller plants near the back, low plants near the front and clump or cluster plants into pleasing groups of color.  Planting should preferably be done early in the morning or late afternoon.  Avoid planting in direct sun as this can really stress your new plants.  Dig the holes deep enough so the new plant will be flush with the bed.  It's best to plant to the same depth as the plant in its pot or container.  A small amount of slow release fertilizer can also be used in the bottom of each hole to give the plants a good start and provide fertilizer up to several months when your plants are growing fastest.  The final step is to top dress your beds with mulch of about 4-5 inches thick.  Mulch helps conserve water in the soil, reduces soil temperature of the plant roots and most important to gardeners, cuts down on weeds.  So now you should be able to make your own "perfect" flower bed.  Happy planting!


This web site is maintained by Master Gardener Laura Bellmore under the direction of William M. Johnson, Ph.D., County Extension Agent-Horticulture & Master Gardener Program Coordinator.

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