How To Grow Flowers That Will Bloom All Summer Long

Flower gardening tips for how to grow flowers that will bloom all summer long.

Gardening tips for planting annuals

It is May, spring has sprung and it is time to plant colorful flowers in the bed in front of my house.

I got the job done recently and now I am enjoying seeing pretty pops of pink when I am outside.

I planted the Vinca in the front bed and…

…Verbena in planters on my deck.

I am not an avid gardener, but after 30 + years planting annuals in my yard, I do have a few tips to share so that your flowers will bloom all summer long.

How to Grow Flowers That Will Bloom All Summer Long

1. Know Your Growing Region

Make sure what you want to plant will grow in your region of the country. If you don’t know what your growing zone is, you can find out by going to the UDSA’s Plant Hardiness Map.  If this confuses you, don’t worry, just ask at the nurseries in your area and they will tell you to take the guess work out for you, but always check.

I love peonies and enjoyed them every summer when I lived in Pennsylvania. Sadly peonies do not do well in South Carolina. We had a tree expert out when we first moved in to tell us what all the trees and shrubs around our house are.

When I said I wanted to plant peonies, he smiled and told me they will not grow here. :-(

2. Sun, Part Sun, Shade

When buying flowers to plant in beds you will be wasting your money if you don’t pay attention to the amount of sun the bed gets. Figure this out before choosing your flowers. When you get to the nursery, look for flowers that state on their label where they need to be planted. This will be full sun, part sun, and or shade.

The pink Vinca I planted loves the sun so planting them in this front bed is perfect as it gets sun all day long.

3. Acclimate the Flowers

Because young plants are grown in greenhouses they have been pampered. Now that you want to plant them they need to be introduced to the elements like wind, temperature fluctuations and hot sun… gradually. Boxes and flats of flowers can be placed in wagons and wheelbarrows that make moving them inside and out easy to do.

Start by moving young plants outdoors to a shady or semi-shaded spot for three to four hours a day. The area should be somewhat protected like a porch or under a large tree. Bring them in at night for the first few days. I usually wheel them into my garage.

Gradually increase the time outdoors by one to two hours a day. After a few days move them to an area with morning sun, but return them to shade in the afternoon. After about a week your flowers should be okay to be planted.

4. Soil

Whether planting perennials or annuals, preparing the soil in advance will help your flowers flourish.

How to grow flowers so they bloom all summer

Determine the area for your flower bed.  Last year the Vinca I planted in the bed did OK. The soil was old and there was not enough for the flowers to really dig in and thrive, so this year I added new garden soil. Before adding it though, I raked out all the old pine straw, winter debris, roots and rocks.

I then added Expand ‘n Gro or you can use any soil that has conditioners in it with The Claw. Yes, that is what the tool is called, The Claw. :-) It is the best garden tool ever. It makes breaking up soil and mixing it a breeze and no heavy machinery is needed.

Once I spread it around and mixed it in.

I added water. Expand N’ Grow doesn’t expand instantly, but after about 15 minutes you will see how the soil has doubled and then after a few hours, tripled in bulk.

5. Planting

Once your soil is all mixed and slightly most, it is time to plant your flowers. I placed each plant where I wanted it to go before I start digging, this way I know I have my spacing right.  For Vinca, 9-inches apart is the recommended spacing.

Dig a hole as deep as your seedling, including it’s root mass and twice as wide.

Loosen the root ball and place the seedling gently into the hole. Add enough soil into the hole and around it. Tamp the soil down gently and water thoroughly.

6. Watering: What Time of Day?

Early Morning Flower Watering

Early morning is generally the best time to water flowers.  In the early morning, the plants get a chance to dry off with the morning and afternoon sun, as well as the breezes throughout the day. Being able to dry quickly helps prevent fungal diseases from spreading throughout the plantings.

Daytime Watering

Daytime watering, especially during the hottest months of the year, is not a good thing. One reason is that you’ll have to water more, because the water begins to evaporate much more quickly than in cooler parts of the day. Daytime watering should be avoided at all costs. That being said, however, If you must water, leave a hose running at a moderate trickle around the base of your flowers for 30 or so minutes. If you have thirsty flowers that are showing signs of drought stress, water them at the base and give them a long drink.

Late Afternoon or Early Evening Watering

While evening watering is not the best time to water your flower garden, it can still be a better option than watering during the middle of the day. If you must water your flowers overhead in the evening, try and do so on a breezy or windy night. The wind helps dry the leaves more quickly to help prevent fungal disease from spreading during the cooler night temperatures.

7. Dead-Heading and Pinching Back

Deadheading is very simple. As the blooms fade, pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Repeat with all the dead flowers on the plant.

I get in the habit of deadheading early and often. If you spend at least a short time in the garden each day, your deadheading task will be much easier. Start early, around late spring, while there are only a few plants with faded flowers.

8. Feeding and Weeding

Since I live in the land of pine trees, pine needles are everywhere. It would be a waste of time for me to put down bark mulch as it would be covered in a few weeks with pine needles. Pine Straw mulch is what is used instead to help protect the bed.  I don’ t need to add flower food to the bed since Expand ‘n Gro already has it in it and will feed your flowers for up to six months.

Weeding is not so easy and is no fun!  If you want your flower bed to look nice all summer long though, it has to be done.  I weed when I water. I look for weeds and pull them out then. If I stay on top of it, the chore never gets to where the weeds are out of control.

One way to help combat the weeds is to lay down landscape cloth over your soil before you plant the flowers. Cut out holes in the cloth where each plant will go.

This can be time consuming, but over the  length of the summer will save you time since weeds will have a hard time getting through the cloth.

These are the steps I take when I plant flowers that I want to stay in bloom all summer long.

Do you have any flower growing tips to add to my list?

Flower gardening tips that will help flowers bloom all summer long.

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  1. I worked for a landscaper for a couple of years who never used landscape fabric. He told me that weeds are, for the most part, not present in the soil before landscape fabric is put down. They blow in from above. Of course, that makes sense when you think about it. I personally feel that it looks messy after a few seasons and the mulch needs to be removed so the fabric can be removed or replaced. In my own garden I apply Preen every spring and seldom have pull any weeds.
    Your Vinca and Verbena are thriving and the pops of color is so pretty. I’m still waiting for the never-ending rain to stop here in Connecticut so I can get some planting finally done.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Susan – Always good to hear what others do in their gardens. In my previous house I used Preen also. It is good stuff. :-) I agree that the landscape fabric may not help with weeds entirely, but it is great to use on old beds where weeds may still be present in the soil. With new soil that is pristine, the cloth may not help with weeds since there are none in the soil yet. The soil I mixed the Expand ‘n Gro in was old and filled with lots of unknown stuff. :-)

      My flowers are doing well and over the past 3 days we have rain, rain, rain. It is quite gloomy, but all the flowers and plants are loving it. They have grown a few inches all around in days. :-)

  2. oh drat about the peonies. they are one of my very favorite flowers. I admire all your work to make your home so pretty.

  3. I wish you would take a picture of the baby bunny!

    PS I save coffee grounds and even get bags of them from Starbucks to mix into the soil.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Marty – I tried to get a picture of the baby bunny, but it was through the screen door and did not come out well. He or she is very cute. Thanks for the tip about the coffee grounds. We have those every morning. I will try adding them to the soil and see what happens.

  4. Linda Weeks says:

    So if I plant verbena and vinca, I should get bunnies? I’m all for it! I love bunnies!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Linda – Plant Verbena – they love it, but soon after planting you won’t have any flowers since they chomp the whole flower head off. They don’t touch like Vinca. I need to plant that next year in the planters on my deck.

  5. Beverly Miller says:

    Beautiful flower beds! A natural weed killer is corn meal that I just heard about on Dirt Doctor radio show. The website is:

    Also, he recommends using live nematodes to kill ticks, fleas, grubs, etc. There are different types of nematodes for specific need discussed on his website.

    He is on 590AM radio in Atlanta area on Saturday mornings & he has great natural tips on protecting & growing plants.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beverly – Thanks for the gardening tips, I will check the site out.

  6. mary heicher says:

    Hey Diane,
    Here’s a crazy tip only the gardening wife of a mechanic would know.
    If you have rose bushes, have your local mechanic save you the shavings from
    the rotors they turn. It’s high in iron and rosebushes love it.
    Just sprinkle a bit around the roots.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary – A friend gave me a rose bush on Easter. It is my first ever. This is a good tip to know. Thanks for sharing it. I will ask the next time my car is in the shop if they can give me the rotor shavings. :-)

  7. STAIRS! Your Stairs not STEMS! Auto-correct drives me crazy!

  8. Nothing is foolproof once the bunnies discover something they like, but here are a few things you can do that MAY discourage them. Place any of the following in or around the pot or even at the bottom of the stairs, if there is a crack where your concrete meets your stairs, or under a wooden stairway to a deck: dog hair, dried blood (available at garden supply stores), stinky bars of soap (especially good for hanging from shrubs), or sprays of stinky discount store perfume applied every few days or after rains. Sometimes a wind chime or something reflective will discourage them, but wind comes and goes. I’m guessing you don’t have a dog, but having someone walk their dog across the bottom of your stems on a regular basis couldn’t hurt.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Pam – Thanks for sharing these excellent and do-able tips. I did just hang a wind chime and it is interesting that I have not seen a bunny on the deck since I hung it. I will get some cheap dollar store perfume and try that on one staircase and the soap on the other. We no longer have a dog, but our granddog is coming to stay with us for a week. I will make sure to walk her across the steps a few times a day while she is here.

  9. I wish I was green fingered like you. I fail to grow anything, nevermind flowers that are in bloom all summer long!

  10. Diane-you should try growing some peonies! They grow great here in GA. They are my favs along with hydrangeas.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Georgia – This is good to know. I have one place where I can try planting them. Now I have to find a nursery that sells them. Thanks for taking the time to tell me since you live in the same climate as me. I love hydrangeas, too. I have two that grow well, one is a pink mop head and the other a lavender lace cap.