Gardening is one of the most satisfying pastimes. You dig around in the dirt a little bit, apply water and then – voila! – you have vegetables, greenery and flowers. Whether it’s spring, summer or fall, flowers can brighten up your garden or landscaping. But when is the best time to plant flowers? Our Northeast flower chart can help.
One of the first things you need to know when planting flowers is your planting zone. For the uninitiated, a planting zone is a way of measuring climate differences. The zones are based on the average annual minimum temperature in that area. You can find your zone here. There are around 11 planting zones in the US. Northeast planting zones range from 3 (cold) to 7 (mild), though most of the Northeast sits comfortably between zones 5 and 6. Only the very upper regions of New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine get into the 3-4 range.
Sourced from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, our flower chart marks the zones in which certain flowers flourish, and it also notes if they’re annuals or perennials. Annual flowers, like impatiens, go through their entire life cycle in one planting period. If you want impatiens every spring, you have to plant them every spring. Perennial flowers, like peonies, have a longer life cycle. With proper care, they can return and flower year after year.
An important thing to note when consulting our flower chart is that most flowers do not do well in extremes. As you look over the flower chart, you’ll notice that almost all of the flowers thrive best when planted in either spring or fall. These mild, in-between seasons are perfect for growing strong and healthy flowering plants. Everyone knows you can’t usually plant flowers in winter, but the dog days of summer can be just as bad.
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Sunflowers are annual flowers that flourish in zones 2-11. (Although there are some smaller perennial varieties.) It is best to plant them after the last spring frost. Sunflowers look almost like huge daisies – some of them can grow over 16 feet in height! They are hardy plants that are easy to maintain. Sunflowers bloom in summer and early fall.
These annual plants grow best in zones 3-10. Like sunflowers, make sure to plant them after the last spring frost, and no sooner. Zinnias are great flowers for new gardeners, since they’re easy to plant as seeds and they grow very quickly. They bloom in summer and are beloved by butterflies.
Coneflowers are perennials that grow in zones 3-9. These spindly purple flowers are best when planted in spring. Coneflowers bloom from June to October, adding a vibrant pop of color to your garden for many months. Like zinnias, they also attract butterflies.
This perennial plant can grow in zones 3-8, and can be planted in either spring or fall. The vibrant purple flowers can bloom from late spring to early summer, and last up to four weeks.
Shasta daisies are perennial flowers that can grow in zones 5-8. Like Jacob’s ladder, they can be planted in spring or fall. These flowers are classics of the garden, with white petals and yellow florets. Shasta daisies bloom in spring or early summer, and sometimes even flower through fall.
This fragrant perennial grows in zones 5-9, and should be planted in late spring. Expect the signature fragrance to hit its peak when they bloom in late spring and early summer.
Roses are perennial flowers that can grow in zones 3-10. Plant your roses in late spring or early summer. There are many different types of roses, but they usually bloom on and off from spring to fall.
These perennials thrive in zones 3-9. They should be planted in late spring or early summer, when the soil temperature reaches 70 degrees. Black-eyed susans brighten up any garden when they bloom throughout the summer.
Big-leaf hydrangeas are perennial and they grow in zones 5-7. They can be planted in either spring or fall. Big-leaf hydrangeas are fascinating flowers that grow in an array of rich colors depending on the pH level of the soil. My hydrangeas blooms in shades of blue, purple and pink, so I truly have no idea what’s going on in my dirt. They bloom from mid-spring to early fall.
Tulips are technically perennial, but generations of hybridization and human meddling has weakened their ability to come back year after year. Most gardeners treat them as annuals. Tulips can grow in zones 4-8. They should be planted in the fall, about 6-8 weeks before hard frost sets in. Tulips come in many varieties, but they usually bloom in spring.
Peonies are perennial flowers that do best in zones 3-8. They are best planted from late September to early October, about six weeks before the ground freezes. These fat, fragrant blossoms flourish when planted in an area with direct sunlight. Once established, peony bushes are hardy plants with vast root systems. They bloom in late spring and early summer.
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What are your favorite gardening flowers? Let us know in the comments below!