How to Plant Flowers for a Garden Full of Color

Adding some blooming annuals and perennials is one of the quickest ways to freshen up your yard—here’s how.

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $30+

Flowering plants always make your garden look more exciting (and can stop neighbors in their tracks). Perennials dazzle year after year, while annual add blooms almost instantly. Once you've chosen your plants, whether seeds or transplants, there are a few basic steps to get your flowers off to a good start in your yard.

First, before you dig, read the tag that comes with your plants or the instructions on your packets of seeds so you can match the plants' needs with the best spots to grow them. Then, if you already have established flower beds, you can easily place new annuals or perennials wherever you need to fill in some holes. Or you can always create a new flower bed to fill with all the beautiful blooms you want to grow.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Digging tool
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Clippers


  • Compost
  • Seeds or plants
  • Mulch


  1. Choose a Planting Spot

    Do the plants you've picked need sun, shade, or a combination? Start by arranging your plants so they're in a place where they'll get the kind of light they prefer (plants that like the sun should be out in the open, plants that need shade should go in a spot where they'll have some cover).

    Full sun is six hours or more of direct sun per day, not necessarily continuously. Part shade typically means four to six hours of sun per day. Shade definitions vary depending on how deep the shade is. Dappled shade gives a lot more light than deep shade, for example.

  2. Add Compost to the Soil

    Beautiful flower gardens start with healthy soil. Generally, most flowering plants do best in loose and well-drained soil with plenty of organic material. You don't need to dig a large area for flower planting, but you should dig enough soil to add some compost to improve the soil structure and add nutrients.

    Avoid digging or handling soil when it's wet to prevent compaction. Plants need a certain amount of space between soil particles for roots to grow. One test is to dig a small soil sample from a 3-inch hole to see if soil can be worked. Squeeze it into a ball, then toss the soil onto a hard surface such as a rock or pavement. If the soil stays together, it's too wet for planting, but it's time to plant if it shatters.

  3. Dig a Hole

    Planting a flower garden from seeds differs slightly from using nursery plants. Follow the directions on the seed packet to know how deep and far apart to plant each seed. With potted garden plants, you should usually plant with the soil at the same level as the soil in the pot, but read the plant tag to be sure.

  4. Plant Your New Flowers

    Sow flower seeds according to package directions. For potted plants, gently remove each plant from its container. If roots are tangled, tease some or all of the soil from the roots before settling the root ball into the hole you've prepared.

  5. Firm Soil Around Plants

    Cover seeds or push the soil you dug out back into the hole, firming it gently around your plant but not packing it down. Remember that the plant should be at the same depth in the ground as it was in its pot.

  6. Water Deeply

    Thoroughly soak the soil around your newly planted flowers. Garden flowers generally need 1 to 2 inches of moisture every week to perform well, so water if you don't receive enough rain. It's best to water deeply and less frequently than shallowly and more often to allow the roots of the plants to grow deeper. Avoid keeping soil waterlogged, or the roots of your flowering plants may rot.

  7. Add Mulch

    Spread a layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around your new plants to help slow evaporation and reduce how often you need to water. It will also help reduce weeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the easiest flower to add to my garden?

    There are plenty of easy-to-grow flowers to choose from. You'll need to be sure the flowers you pick will get the right amount of shade or sun they need. Some easy flowers to grow and care for include sunflowers, pansies, marigolds, and impatiens.

  • Are perennial or annual flowers better for my garden?

    The best is a combination of both. Annuals live only for one season but flower profusely compared to long-lasting perennials, which may flower for only a brief period each season. Plan a variety that showcases annuals and perennials to keep colors blooming all season.

  • What kind of maintenance will a flower garden need?

    Water and fertilize according to your flower's growing requirements. Clip off the spent flower heads to encourage the plant to put more energy into its foliage and winter survival. Some flowers, including zinnias, dahlias, and others, bloom again when you remove the blooms. Clip or pull any brown foliage for a cleaner look. Daylilies, in particular, benefit from the removal of old leaves.

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