Zinnia Profusion Series
Brighten up your backyard with long-lasting, colorful zinnias. These flowers are a great choice for both beginners and experienced gardeners. If you’re looking to add seasonal color, focus on those tough-as-nails annuals. Profusion zinnias are more disease-resistant than some you may have tried in the past.
This series of zinnia varieties such as Profusion Red, Profusion White and Profusion Fire—you get the idea—packs vibrant color into small spots. Well-suited for containers, Profusion has won several All-America Selections gold medals. The plants are compact and bask in summer’s hottest heat.
Incredibly simple to start from seed, sun-loving zinnias bloom quickly. All you need is a sunny spot and a packet of zinnia seeds will go a long way. Direct sow the seeds after the last frost. With zinnia seeds, you create a summer-long parade of colors. They also make great cut flowers.
Check out the top 15 easy flowers anyone can grow.
Zinnia Profusion Double Hot Cherry
Zinnia X Hybrida, Annual
Bloom time: Early summer to late summer
Light: Full sun
From spring to frost, this gorgeous zinnia will impress you with deep rose, double-petal blooms. Like others in the Profusion series, Double Hot Cherry isn’t picky. In fact, it’s easy to grow and will perform well in a wide range of climates. Flowers don’t get much more low-maintenance than zinnias. They need almost zero care during the growing season.
Also look for this top performer in a pink-orange color called Profusion Double Deep Salmon.
Chocolate Cosmos Flowers
Chocolate cosmos flowers sprout from tender tubers that can be grown as annuals or brought inside for winter in cold climates. They ultimately reach up to 30 inches tall, growing best in a sunny garden patch. These flowers bloom from midsummer into fall and are easy to care for.
Why we love it: This cosmos is a fabulous, guilt-free way to enjoy chocolate. The fragrance even smells like chocolate cake.
- Cosmos atrosanguineus
- Zones: 9 to 11 or Annual
- Attracts: bees and butterflies
- Light needs: Full sun
- Size: 30 inches tall
- Grown for: Big chocolate colored blooms
- Foliage: Feathery, fern-like leaves
Where to Buy Chocolate Cosmos
Chocolate cosmos typically produces little, if any, seed, and in the past was started from pieces of its fleshy tubers (underground stems). Many growers now use micropropagation, or tissue cultures, to create new plants, making them more available to gardeners. The cultivar choca mocha is a compact variety that typically performs well in containers. Instead of trying to harvest seeds, look for these plants at a reputable online source or local garden center. Discover the 4 types of flower bulbs that gardeners should grow.
Chocolate Cosmos Leaves
The lacy, ferny foliage is a delight to behold. This plant is attractive even when grown in lean, dry soils.
Companion Plants for Chocolate Cosmos Flowers
Bees and butterflies love this plant. For the ultimate pollinator-friendly garden, grow these flowers with bee balm, coneflower, black-eyed Susan and calamint.
Next, check out the top 15 easy flowers anyone can grow.
Purple finches are an absolute backyard treat but, despite their vivid-sounding name, their subdued pattern can make them difficult to spot. Roger Tory Peterson, the ornithologist and editor of the Peterson Field Guide series, once described these birds as a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.”
What Do Purple Finches Look Like?
They’re often confused with the house finch—however, purples are slightly heavier birds with shorter tails and longer wingtips. Male purple finches have an almost completely red face and neck with pinkish red also covering most of the body. Purple finches and house finches don’t flock together, but they might both show up at your feeder at the same time. Here’s how to tell the difference between these finches.
Look for a bird that’s slightly larger than a chickadee or nuthatch, has a short notched tail and a prominent, strong beak, which they mainly use to crack into tough seeds. Learn more about bird beaks.
In the West, Cassin’s finches also present an identification hurdle. They have a bright red cap, like the purple, but a lighter pink face, neck and upper chest.
What Do Purple Finches Eat?
Black oil sunflower seeds seem to be the food of choice for purple finches, but they also eat white millet and thistle seeds. Check out the 3 types of seeds and feeders birds love best.
Purple Finch Range
These forest-dwelling songbirds are found mainly in the Midwest, East and along the Pacific Coast. Don’t worry if these colorful finches came to your backyard last winter but don’t show up this year. They migrate erratically. Those that breed in Canada head to the central and southern United States for the winter, while the ones that spend their summer on the Pacific Coast, around the Great Lakes and in the Northeast often don’t migrate at all, except perhaps to lower elevations. They’ll probably be back again, especially if your feeders are filled with black oil sunflower seeds. For even more advice, see our simple tips to attract winter birds.
Purple Finch Song
A musical bird, the purple finch sometimes copies other birds, such as American goldfinches or eastern towhees, as they sing loudly from the treetops (find out the difference between calls and songs). But when it’s time to woo a mate, the male purple finch mellows his tune, hopping in front of the female and puffing his feathers. Here’s what the song sounds like. If she’s interested, the avian Romeo pops a foot in the air, vibrates his wings and then lands, presenting a twig or piece of grass.
Purple Finch Nest
Purples like to nest on the limbs of conifers, though in the southern part of their breeding range they might nest in an oak, maple or cherry tree. The female carefully builds a twig cup, about 7 inches across and 4 inches deep, lining it with grass, moss and animal fur in preparation for the young. Here’s how to prep your yard for nesting season.
Purple Finch Eggs
Clutches range from two to seven pale green eggs with brown and black marks, each just under an inch long. It takes less than two weeks for the eggs to hatch. Afterward, both parents feed the naked, helpless chicks. The young grow quickly and fledge in another two weeks. Learn how to identify bird eggs by color and size.
I admit I’m not a huge gardener. I like growing my own food, but I’m much stronger in the birding area than in the blooms. As a naturalist, though, I know there’s a lot of value in gardening for wildlife. There’s something inspiring about seeing a cheery flock of cedar waxwings suddenly settle into your backyard, stretching to pluck every berry within reach. They gulp the fruits down one after another before leaving as quickly as they arrived. Not only are berries among the most natural and essential food sources for birds, they’re also easy to grow. Translation: You don’t have to be much of a gardener to grow berry bushes for birds!
Take a look at my top picks for berry bushes that attract backyard birds. From one birder to another, I hope this advice allows you to simply plant, walk away and then get your binoculars ready to enjoy the view. Check out 7 backyard birds that eat berries.
American Beautyberry Bushes
Callicarpa Americana, Zones 5 to 8
One of the most notable characteristics of a beautyberry shrub is the purple berries growing in clusters very close to the stem. American beautyberries reach only 3 to 5 feet tall, which is perfect for small spaces.
Why we love it: The fruits are attractive to many birds: northern bobwhites, mockingbirds, towhees, robins and brown thrashers.
American Cranberry Bush
Viburnum Trilobum, Zones 2 to 7
American cranberrybush viburnum is among the best of the viburnum family, with its handsome rusty red fall color and use in multiples as a deciduous shrub. It grows 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, preferring sun or partial shade and moist, well draining soil.
Why we love it: White clusters of flowers appear in spring followed by berries in late summer, feeding hungry songbirds through winter.
Myrica, Zones 3 to 7
While most warblers are spending the winter in Central and South America, flocks of the yellow-rumped species remain in the southern United States all winter long. Many species of bayberry, including wax myrtle, provide fruit for the warblers. In fact, the eastern subspecies of the yellow-rumped warbler is often referred to as the myrtle warbler.
Symphoricarpos Orbiculatus, Zones 2 to 7
In summer, enjoy coralberry’s bell-shaped pinkish white blooms, praised by many sources for being particularly attractive to bees. Come fall, the flowers fade and clusters of red berries emerge. They’ll persist throughout winter until songbirds like cardinals, chickadees and robins devour them.
Why we love it: This berry bush is compact, reaching 3 to 5 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide, and a fast grower. Plus, it tolerates shade—a major selling point for home gardeners.
Cotoneaster Spp., Zones 3 to 8
Whether you opt for a deciduous, evergreen or semi-evergreen type of cotoneaster, it will sport red and orange berries that songbirds will love to munch on throughout winter. The berry bush grows best in full sun or part shade in fertile, well-draining soil. Different species come in various sizes and growth habits.
Why we love it: It has multiseason appeal. In spring or summer, butterflies may sample nectar from the pink, white or rose flowers.
Many currants produce fragrant flowers and abundant fruit. Except for a few species, the berries are largely unpalatable to people, but the birds will thank you for planting these treats in your backyard.
Why we love it: Hummingbirds are wild about the flowers.
Check out the top 10 colorful flowers hummingbirds love.
Cornus, Zones 5 to 9
Several species are native to North America, and over 40 kinds of birds have been documented eating their berries. One of my favorites is the gray catbird, whose long tail and stubby wings are perfectly suited for flying though dense dogwood thickets. The plant is available as either a small tree or a bush.
Learn how to plant a native bird garden.
Sambucus, Zones 4 to 9
A hit with many birds, from wrentits to flycatchers, purplish-blue elderberries grow in clusters. If you somehow can harvest the berries yourself before the birds devour them, they make a delicious pie filling, jam or syrup.
Ilex, Zones 5 to 9
What’s more festive than holly’s bright-red berries clustered among dark-green leaves? Although the fruit can be mildly toxic and irritating to humans, birds seem to have no problem with it. Research suggests that the berries lose some of their toxicity after the first frost, which is when birds tend to chow down on them. Another thing to know about these berry bushes: It’s dioecious, meaning you need to have both male and female plants to ensure that fruit will be produced.
Follow these simple tips to attract winter birds.
Gaylussacia, Zones 3 to 7
A relative of the blueberry, huckleberry is equally popular with birds. While I prefer to enjoy it in ice cream form, the birds love it right off the bush.
Next, check out the best fall shrubs to grow.
Ilex Glabra, Zones 4 to 9
Part of the holly family, inkberry is an evergreen that’s ideal for home gardens because it tolerates shade and typically maxes out at 5 to 8 feet tall and wide.
Why we love it: Black berrylike drupes emerge in early fall and last throughout winter until birds gobble them up. The dark green foliage is also attractive throughout the cold months. A female plant needs a male in order to bear fruit.
Juniperus, Zones 3 to 9
Any of the juniper species can offer double benefits for birds, providing good cover and choice nesting locations as well as fruit. The berries are especially popular with the Townsend’s solitaire. While they’re less appealing to some other birds, they still offer valuable winter nutrients. And for the gardener, these hardy berry bushes require little maintenance.
Try these 5 attractive drought-tolerant shrubs for your garden.
Rubus idaeus, Zones 3 to 10
I used to find towhees and sparrows in my raspberry patch every morning when I’d go out to harvest berries for my breakfast pancakes. The dense patches provide excellent cover, and sometimes the birds refused to flush from the thicket as I picked a few treats for myself.
Aronia Arbutfolia, Zones 4 to 9
Growing 6 to 12 feet tall, this resilient native berry bush does well even in poor soil, tolerating wet and dry conditions. It has small white or reddish blooms in spring, glossy dark green foliage in summer and bright red berries in fall and early winter.
Why we love it: Besides the berries, reddish brown bark boosts color within a cold-weather landscape.
Amelanchier, Zones 4 to 8
Most of these species bloom early and then quickly yield berries for birds, including the vireos. It’s easy to find serviceberry bushes. Some serviceberries are considered small-scale trees, but they don’t grow too large, so both tree and shrub work nicely in smaller landscapes.
Symphoricarpos Albus, Zones 3 to 7
By winter, snowberry’s pale green fruits turn white. Robins, waxwings and thrushes are known to eat the berries, but sometimes birds take a pass, leaving the white fruits to boost your landscape’s winter interest.
Why we love it: It attracts all kinds of creatures—vashti sphinx moths use it as a host plant and hummingbirds love the pink blooms.
Viburnum, Zones 2 to 9
With around 150 different species, this is a versatile choice for your backyard berry patch. These shrubs can do well clumped as a hedgerow. They also make a good transition species at a forest’s edge. The berries are favorites of both birds and larger wildlife.
Plant any of these choices, and watch the show begin! A flock of waxwings can make short work of a berry buffet, while a northern mockingbird will vigorously defend a berry patch to hoard the pickings, enjoying them at a leisurely pace. Either way, when you plant berries for birds, you’ll have a front-row seat to some fascinating bird behavior all year long.
Ilex Verticillata, Zones 3 to 9
Few deciduous shrubs produce as much cold weather interest as winterberry. Unlike most of its holly cousins, it drops its leaves in the autumn, so nothing detracts from the red berries that are favored by game birds, songbirds and waterfowl. Plant both female and male shrubs for berries.
Why we love it: In warmer weather, watch for Henry’s elfin butterflies. Winterberry is a host plant for the larvae of these little fliers.
Yaupon Berry Bush
Ilex Vomitoria, Zones 7 to 10
This evergreen berry bush forms a dense thicket ideal for a screen, hedge, windbreak and barrier. It can be espaliered or trained as a small tree or topiary. The red berries brighten the winter landscape and provide food for birds. Female plants need a male pollinator in order to produce fruit.
Why we love it: The shrub’s adaptability along with drought and disease tolerance make it a long-living native alternative to boxwood.
As gardeners, we are constantly faced with challenges: plants that won’t bloom, flowers that die after a late-spring frost, droughts that wipe out entire flower beds. Gardening definitely has its fair share of difficulties, so every once in a while it’s nice to rely on flowers that thrive with minimal time and effort. These 16 easy flowers to grow are trouble-free and suitable for nearly any North American backyard.
Aster or Symphyotrichum Zones 3 to 8
With more than 250 varieties, you’re bound to find a cultivar that’s suited to your space. The extensive range of sizes and colors available makes this plant one of the most popular late-season bloomers.
Why we love it: From miniature alpine plants to giants that tower up to 6 feet, asters are easy flowers to grow that brighten any fall landscape, especially when butterflies come to visit. Check out more late-blooming fall flowers that attract butterflies.
Hemerocallis, Zones 3 to 10
This summer bloomer is cherished for its reliability. And with thousands of cultivars out there, gardeners have almost limitless options. Though individual blossoms last just a day, many hybrids flower repeatedly all season long.
Why we love it: These plants were made for sharing. Divide daylilies every three to five years to revitalize and prevent the fleshy roots from becoming too tough. Plus hummingbirds love the tube-shaped blooms!
Achillea, Zones 3 to 9
Yarrow produces long-lasting, easy to grow flowers that come into their own once the weather is consistently warm. Suited to most growing conditions, yarrow provides a long season of blooms all the way into fall. Do a little research before you buy—it’s best to stay away from aggressive varieties.
Why we love it: The padlike bloom clusters are perfect places for butterflies to land and sip from the nectar-filled flowers.
Sedum, Zones 3 to 10
Take a close look and you’ll notice that this plant’s flower heads are made up of little star-shaped blooms. Since the plants range from 3 inches to 3 feet high, some species work well as ground covers, while others make excellent border plants.
Why we love it: One popular sedum variety, Autumn Joy, has broccoli-shaped light green flower heads that slowly change to pink and deepen to burgundy. Later, the seeds feed hungry songbirds.
Echinacea, Zones 3 to 9
Its sweet homey nature has made coneflower a garden staple. Growing about 2 to 4 feet high and 2 feet wide, this colorful bloomer is the perfect companion plant in just about any garden, and tolerates drought. Give it well-draining soil and watch it thrive in full sun as well as partial shade.
Why we love it: Songbirds nibble on the seeds, and butterflies and hummingbirds sip nectar well into fall. In winter, the remaining seed heads provide an interesting garden focal point. Learn how to attract birds and butterflies with coneflowers.
Hosta, Zones 3 to 8
The ultimate low-care shade plant, hosta cultivars come with endless varieties of leaf shapes, patterns, textures and colors. Easily divided, hosta is perfect for the budget-minded. It forms a dense, leafy clump, with blossoms rising up to 3 feet above the foliage. Some hostas tolerate sun, but partial shade produces the most handsome, longest-lasting foliage.
Why we love it: The small, dainty blooms are just the right size for hungry hummingbirds.
Monarda, Zones 3 to 9
This unusual beauty grows up to 4 feet tall and starts flowering in midsummer, inviting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees to your backyard. Plants come with pink, red, white or purple blooms and reseed readily. Choose varieties resistant to mildew (such as Marshall’s Delight or Jacob Cline) for best results.
Why we love it: Skip deadheading! Songbirds stop by to eat the seeds that appear once the petals die back. Check out the top 10 plants for bees and pollinators.
Heuchera, Zones 3 to 9
Coral bells’ tall, airy flower clusters tower elegantly above mounds of evergreen foliage that comes in a rainbow of colors. This easy flower to grow works especially well in borders and containers, and it thrives in sun or shade.
Why we love it: It’s easy to increase hummingbird traffic in the backyard and extend the blooming season by clipping off spent stems to encourage new growth. Check out the top 10 shade tolerant coral bells.
Viola x wittrockiana, annual
This colorful bloomer is best known for the whiskered “faces” that mark many of the flowers. The majority of pansy varieties are annuals, though some live longer. Most perform best in cooler weather, so in warm climates, some cultivars are grown as winter annuals.
Why we love it: Pansies are easy flowers to grow in containers where they thrive with little care.
Paeonia, Zones 3 to 9
A peony’s fresh, heady scent simply can’t be beat. In late spring, bushy plants burst with lush, showy purple, white, red, yellow or pink blooms that make this flower a favorite choice to use in colorful beds and bouquets. Hundreds of peony hybrids are available.
Why we love it: The giant blooms offer loads of sweetness to butterflies and hummingbirds. Check out more super fragrant flowers that pollinators love.
Zinnia Elegans, annual
With heights from 6 inches to 3 feet, there’s a zinnia for every garden. These are such easy flowers to grow—just direct sow seeds in a flower bed or a pot after the last frost. And with such a range of colors—red, yellow, orange, chartreuse, pink, lavender, white—there’s a zinnia for every taste as well. Use the smaller types as edging plants and larger varieties in the back of beds. Some can even work as barriers or privacy screens.
Why we love it: With zinnia seeds, you create a summer-long parade of colors.
Eschscholzia californica, annual
Sweeping across the arid foothills and valleys west of the Sierra Nevada, a sea of golden-orange California poppies lights up the landscape each spring. California poppies bloom more prolifically with the help of a little deadheading. Just a few spent flowers on the stems to limit reseeding.
Why we love it: The delicate, nodding blooms are ideal in rock and cottage gardens, rather than in formal flower beds. Check out more drought-tolerant plants that can handle dry weather.
Impatiens, annual in most zones
Reliable impatiens are shade-garden favorites throughout North America, and quickly grow to fill in bare areas with undulating mounds of color. Once planted, impatiens need very little care. Plants bloom from spring to first frost and, unlike some other annuals, require no deadheading.
Why we love it: New Guinea impatiens provides bold color in shade.
Tropaeolum • annual
This cheerful flower thrives on neglect. Once it’s established, the nasturtium performs best when left alone, providing vivid color from spring through frost. Some types have compact, mounded growing habits, while others are good climbers.
Why we love it: This edible flower also makes a zesty addition to a green salad.
Iris sibirica, Zones 3 to 9
An easy to grow flower garden staple, Siberian iris produces white or jewel-toned flowers that can be planted in formal flower beds or naturalized for a more rustic look.
Why we love it: Siberian iris is a good choice to plant in areas with moist soil. Discover the types of flower bulbs that gardeners should grow.
Helianthus annuus, annual
There’s something about a sunflower’s bright face that makes you feel good. And when it comes to kids, there are few plants that draw more “oohs” and “aahs” than these towering blooms, which can soar up to 15 feet! These easy flowers to grow range from red to yellow to white.
Why we love it: The centers are composed of tiny, nectar-producing flower clusters that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, and many birds eat the seeds.
While the winter wind blows, gardeners everywhere turn to seed catalogs as they dream of the spring and summer ahead. The catalogs pile up, dog-eared and tattered, as growers plan for the future. Seed catalogs offer more choices than even the largest garden centers, and growing plants from seed is a great way to save money. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite seed catalogs you’ll want to have on hand as you prepare for the growing season.
Tip: Want to save paper? All of these companies have websites, and many of them have digital versions of their catalogs.
If you’re dedicated to planting natives in your garden, Prairie Moon should be your go-to resource. They offer an incredibly wide range of wildflowers and grasses, with information about native ranges and growing tips. They sell most seeds by packet or in bulk for larger plantings, as well as bare-root and potted plants for some species.
Seeds to Try: Milkweed, multiple varieties. Monarch butterflies need native milkweed throughout their range. Prairie Moon offers a dozen different species of milkweed seeds, covering much of the country.
Flower lovers will revel in Select Seeds’ offerings. They specialize in fragrant, old-fashioned blossoms like those that filled your grandmother’s garden. Select Seeds also has rare finds and rediscovered antique heirlooms, like Job’s Tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), one of the oldest grasses in cultivation.
Veggie lovers, rejoice! Territorial Seed’s catalog has more than 100 pages of vegetable and herb seeds and plants to choose from. Some of their offerings are truly unique, like oak trees inoculated with Bianchetto truffles so you can grow your own fungi delicacies. They also offer flowers and fruits.
Flower and vegetable gardeners will all find something to love in Burpee catalogs. Burpee offers a bit of everything, along with a variety of gardening accessories.
Heirloom seeds provide a direct connection to days past. Baker Creek sells over 1800 varieties of seed, specializing in types from the 19th century and earlier. A look through their catalog feels personal, as many photos include their family or employees showing off their offerings.
Johnny’s is an employee-owned company that takes special care to ensure all their seeds meet the Safe Seed Pledge. Their breeders use traditional methods to cross-breed new varieties, so if you’re concerned about GMO, you can trust Johnny’s. They offer a large selection of vegetables and flowers.
Take a trip down memory lane with R. H. Shumway’s print catalog. Charming black and white drawings illustrate the vegetable offerings, while the flower pages have color illustrations. You can visit their website to see photographs of most varieties before ordering, if you like.
Based in Texas, Wildseed Farms grows its own wildflowers for seed. Their regional wildflower mixes are designed specifically to thrive in various areas of the country. They sell individual varieties by the packet up to the pound, and show detailed range maps for each species.
Park Seed is one of the biggest names in the business, and they’ve been in business since 1868. They carry an array of flowers, vegetables, plants, and gardening accessories. If you’re new to seed-starting, check out their Bio Dome System, which makes it easy to grow strong healthy plant from seed.
The founder of Annie’s began the company when she realized just how much better heirloom vegetables tasted than commercially grown varieties. She had difficulty finding quality heirloom seeds, so she eventually decided to start her own company. Their carefully sourced seeds come from around the world, with new types added all the time.
Cheery daisies are a favorite of nearly everyone. They’re so beloved, in fact, that Gerbera daisies are one of the most popular cut flowers sold by florists, along with roses and carnations. They last at least a week in a vase, but if grow your own Gerbera daisies in pots you’ll have new blooms to enjoy for a much longer time.
Gerbera daisies are native to South Africa. Most varieties sold today are a mix of of Gerbera jamesonii and G. viridifolia, known as G. hybrida. They’re commonly called Gerbera daisy, Gerber daisy, Transvaal Daisy, or Barberton Daisy. (They’re also sometimes known as African Daisy, but so are many other species, so use caution.)
Grow Gerbera Daisies in Pots
Gerbera daisies can be a little tricky to grow. They need lots of direct sunlight, but dislike hot temperatures (anything about 70 degrees or higher may begin to stress the plant). In most cases, it’s best to grow Gerbera daisies in pots, so you can move them to the best location as the seasons change.
- Try for morning sun and light afternoon shade, and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the summer blooming season.
- When watering, avoid letting water settle on the leaves or crown, as this can encourage rot, and let the water drain freely through the pot.
- Deadhead frequently to encourage more flowers, and remove dead or damaged leaves regularly.
Gerbera Daisy Colors
Gerbera daisies bloom in a wide range of colors, from white and pink to reds and yellows. Sturdy stems emerge from the center of the large-leaved plants, with a single large composite flower per stem. Psst—check out the top 10 colorful flowers hummingbirds love.
How to Overwinter Gerbera Daisies
- When winter arrives, move your Gerbera daisies in pots indoors, since they are not frost-tolerant.
- They can tolerate cooler temperatures in the winter, especially if you reduce the watering. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
- Be sure the plant still receives plenty of direct sun. Flowering will diminish or stop in the winter, most likely.
- Trim away any overcrowded leaves, and check to the sure the crown of the plant is still at least half an inch above the soil.
- When spring arrives, amp up your watering and fertilize the plant to kick-start another bloom season.
The lovely waxen flowers of a camellia bush are a symbol of southern elegance. Alabama even chose camellias for the state flower. Camellias have a reputation for being somewhat difficult to grow, but if you’re willing to meet their needs, they’ll reward you with a long bloom season just when you need it most, between fall and spring.
When Do Camellias Bloom?
The camellia group (Camellia spp.) features over 260 species, some of which bloom as early as October. Look for most flowers to appear in December or January and enjoy their colors through April. C. japonica is a common species with evergreen foliage and white, pink, red, yellow or lavender flowers.
C. sasanqua blooms in mid-fall to early winter, while C. japonica flowers from mid-winter through early spring. Hybrids can fall into either category, so be sure to read up on the plant information before buying.
Both species have been cultivated into many hundreds of varieties, offering a huge array of flower colors and types, growth habits, fragrances, and more. There are choices to suit nearly any garden. Bear in mind that camellias are not particularly hardy, and can’t withstand very cold winters. In zones 6 – 10, they can be grown outdoors. In colder climates, try growing camellias in pots that can be moved outdoors in summer, then move them into the house to enjoy their flowers in the fall and winter months.
Though they’re strongly associated with the southern U.S., camellias are actually native to southeast Asia. They’re part of a large genus (Camellia), whose most famous member is one that’s regularly dunked in teacups around the world. C. sinensis flowers may be insignificant, but the leaves are grown and harvested to make tea of all kinds.
Camellias: Sun or Shade?
All camellias need some protection from the hot afternoon sun as young plants. However, plants that receive no sun will struggle to flower. Morning sun and dappled afternoon shade are ideal. As the plants grow older, their own heavy foliage will provide protection from the sun for the roots. Check out 11 easy-to-grow plants to add color to your shade garden.
Best Soil for Camellias
Camellias require two important characteristics in their soil: slightly acidic and well-drained. Before planting, test the soil to determine its pH. Camellias grow best in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5; high pH levels will cause stress and yellowing leaves. If your soil is too alkaline, you can either amend it regularly with an acidic fertilizer, or try growing camellias in pots so you can easily control the soil pH.
It’s also important to ensure that the area you choose has well-drained soil, because camellias hate wet feet. Avoid spots in your garden that are regularly soggy. Not sure if your soil drains well? Dig a hole about 12 inches wide and deep, and fill it with water. If it drains in 10 minutes or so, your soil is fast-draining and should work well for these flowering beauties.
How to Plant a Camellia Bush
Camellias (like most plants) need plenty of water when they’re young and establishing root systems. Because rain water is naturally slightly acidic, it’s perfect for watering in new shrubs. Tap water is an adequate substitute, but since regular application may change the acidity of the soil depending on your water quality, test the soil regularly in the beginning. After they’re established, camellias rarely need supplemental watering.
Camellias are a little picker about how they’re planted than most. If they’re planted too deeply or mulched too heavily, the stems can rot and kill the plant.
- Dig the planting hole the same depth as the root ball, then add a few inches of soil back into the hole to slightly decrease the depth.
- When you set the plant down into the hole, the top of the root ball should be slightly above the level of the surrounding dirt.
- Fill in the hole, sloping the fill dirt up to the top of the root ball without covering it.
- Mulch lightly, no more than about an inch.
When to Plant a Camellia Bush
In most areas, it’s best to plant camellias in the spring so they have a long warm season to establish themselves. In warm-winter climates, they can be added to the garden anytime. Though it’s wise to avoid the hottest months of summer.
When to Prune a Camellia Bush
In order to know when to prune a camellia bush you need to know what type of camellia you have. Sasanquas bloom in late fall, and start to set buds the spring before. Prune them immediately after flowering ends in early winter. Japonicas flower later, and can also be pruned just after their bloom season ends. Hybrids may flower at either time. So simply prune when the flowers are done.
In the crushing humidity and heat of a southern summer, there aren’t a whole lot of flowers that can thrive. Natives are the best option, but some bedding plants can fit the bill. Annual vinca flower is one great example, and you don’t have to live in the muggy south to enjoy this pretty charmer.
Vinca Flower Size and Color
Annual vinca flower is a compact plant, growing to about 15 inches by 15 inches. The shiny green leaves are set off by the multiple five-petaled blooms, which appear continuously. Vinca is available in a range of shades including, white, pinks, red, purple, and lavender. Some of my favorites have contrasting center colors, such as pale pink with dark pink in the center.
Vinca Flower Care
Vinca needs little maintenance, and deadheading isn’t required. They do well in full sun to part shade, and can tolerate some drought, although they flower best with regular watering. Check out the top 15 easy flowers anyone can grow.
Is Vinca an Annual or Perennial?
Grow vinca as an annual in zones 2 – 8, and as a short-lived perennial in zones 9 – 11. Some varieties self-seed and return the following spring. Learn the difference between annuals and perennials.
Where to Buy Vinca
Buy vinca as bedding plants at your local nursery in the early summer in northern areas, and spring through fall in the Deep South. You can also start them from seed. Try some cultivars not commonly available at stores, like Tattoo Black Cherry Vinca, which is a gorgeous vibrant reddish-purple.
Vinca Vine Flowers
Trailing vinca is a wonderful plant for containers or as ground cover. Butterflies will visit annual vinca flowers for nectar, although it’s not necessarily their preferred plant in the garden. Check out 6 go-to flowers you should plant in your butterfly garden.
Vinca and Periwinkle
Annual vinca is one of those plants that cause a lot of confusion regarding common names. Annual vinca is also known commonly as periwinkle or Madagascar periwinkle. Other flowers are also known by these names. Though they’re all related, each behaves differently.
Annual vinca’s botanical name is Catharanthus roseus. Annual vinca was once called Vinca rosea, but it’s been determined to be a different genus from true vincas like Vinca major and Vinca minor, both of which behave more like a flowering ground cover. These two are also commonly known as periwinkles and can be invasive.
Confused? That’s why knowing botanical names can be so helpful.