BY LISA RABASCA ROEPE
PLANTING AND growing a garden of colorful
flowers is within everyone’s reach—even those
of us without green thumbs. The key is to select
varieties that naturally grow in your region, and
supplement them with a few favorites that have
proven to be happy nearly everywhere.
It all starts with what flowers need to thrive.
Variables range from the amount of water and
sunlight flowers need to the type of soil they are
planted in to average daily temperatures. Experts
tell us if you try growing a plant in a region that
doesn’t offer the right soil, water and temperatures,
it will be harder to grow and maintain.
So, start off by choosing flowers that are native
to your region, as they will thrive without much
fuss, says Costco member Samantha Richardson,
a horticulturist with the Greater Newark Conservancy. She recommends consulting the USDA
Plant Hardiness Zone Map before purchasing
But you don’t have to stop there. Beyond the
local staples, there are some colorful, low-main-tenance perennial flowers that should do well
(with a few caveats) regardless of the region in
which you live.
Clematis, a bright flowering vine, comes in
;;; species. If your clematis blooms in early
spring, you don’t need to prune it, Richardson
says, but if it blooms in late summer, cut it back
about a foot in height to prevent it from blooming
only at the top.
Delphinium blooms in early spring and,
depending on the species, can grow to ; feet tall.
The taller it is, the more fragile the stems will be,
so Richardson recommends either staking your
delphinium or planting it where it’s sheltered from
Heuchera is a low-growing ground cover that
blooms in red, orange, green or purple, and attracts hummingbirds. Although it prefers shade,
heuchera tolerates partial sun.
Hosta, a shade-tolerant plant, features green
leaves and small flowers that bloom between early
summer and late fall, depending on where you
live. Hosta doesn’t like full sun or dry conditions.
The key to maintaining it, Richardson says, is
to water it deeply. Lightly water it, wait for all the
water to be absorbed and then repeat that process
two more times, she says.
Lavender likes hot, dry summers and it
doesn’t require a lot of water, allowing it to grow
in most areas. It typically blooms from late June
Peony, with its giant blooms, likes the heat
but also appreciates afternoon shade, especially
when planted in areas with hot afternoon sun. If
you’re planting it in a cooler region, make sure it
has full afternoon sun. Don’t be surprised if it
takes one to three years for your plant to
flower, because the roots need to be established before it will bloom, Richardson says.
If you don’t plant peonies in the spring, she
recommends planting them in the fall, to give the
roots a chance to establish before the plant has to
withstand the summer heat. The flowers typically
last a week to ;; days, and they bloom between
April and June, depending on the region. C
Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance journalist based
in Washington, D.C.
Select the correct plant for your region
FOLLOW THESE tips to get
the best results.
Know your soil type.
For a small fee, your local
Cooperative Extension office
will test your soil and provide information about your
soil type as well as its pH
and nutrient levels.
Ask local experts. Every
local Cooperative Extension
office has volunteer Master
Gardeners who are willing
to offer advice and help you
select plants that are native
to your area.
Research online. A
wealth of information is
available online from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture
and other sources. When
getting information online,
make sure the site ends
with .gov or .edu. Those
sites have information that
has been researched and
has data behind it.
Find plants that flower
in different months. Aim
for a variety of plants that
bloom in different seasons,
from early April to late November. The best planting
advice is to cover all seasons
for visual interest with continuous color, texture, smell
and touch. You can vary your
blooming times by planting
two varieties that bloom in
early spring, two that bloom
in late spring, two that bloom
in early summer, two that
bloom in late summer and
two that bloom in early fall.
That would give you 10
varieties. If you space them
out throughout your garden,
rather than clump all the
lavender together and all
the delphinium together,
they will bloom at different
A variety of beautiful ;owers for
planting are available in Costco
locations on a seasonal basis.
Seeds, bulbs, shrubs and trees
can be found on Costco.com.