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Creating a Beautiful Native Plant Flower Bed in Sun: Tips and Ideas

Seven Easy Steps!


white and purple flowers in bloom
Fall Flowers at Adkins Aboretum

If you are reading this, it is likely you have, or are about to become, just a bit nutsy for native plants! It's spring. Rains have likely moistened the soil in your garden. Sun and warmer temps are on their way. What better time to create a new flower bed sure to be buzzing with life by the time July rolls around?


Step 1: Select a Spot that Gets Six Hours of Sun

This will be a sun loving bunch of flowers, so six hours of direct sun is ideal for your new bed. It also helps if the area is one where you have easy access to water.



Step 2: Prep the Area if Needed

Is your spot covered in weeds or lawn? Please go here for easy directions on how to convert the area to a plantable bed within 45 days or so. If your spot has bare soil and no roots surfacing, standing water or other obvious impediments, you can go to step 3. Note there is no need to till or break up the soil.



Step 3: Choose your flowers

These perennial flowers have similar growth habits and should not out compete each other. They bloom at different times with the goal of always having flowers throughout the growing season. They are also fairly tolerant of a wide range of soil types. These recommendations feature white, blue and lavender flowers with a touch of yellow. There are many, many potential combinations and plants to choose from!


Small light blue flowers in mid spring and adds great color in fall.


White flowers in late spring, early summer.


Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor)

Blue flowers in late spring, early summer. Skip this one if your soils are dry.


Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Lavender blue flowers from early summer through fall. Native to areas west of the Chesapeake region.


Tickseeed (Coreopsis lanceolata)

Yellow flowers in early summer and sporadically after.


Blue flowers in summer and distinctive seed heads.


Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Yellow flowers in late summer and early fall. Not one of the aggressively growing goldenrods.


Smooth Aster

Blue to purple flowers in fall.


Small white flowers in fall.


garden shed
Lauren's Garden Service Native Plant Nursery

Step 4: Source your plants

These plants are commonly available from native plant nurseries including some who sell on-line and ship plants. Here is a list of native plant nurseries. Very helpfully, most now maintain on-line inventories so you can see what is available!



Step 5. Plant

If you are planting in an area where you are converting lawn to bed, peak under the cardboard at about the four week mark to see if your new bed is ready. If the grass and or weeds are brown and soft, it's ready. If you have to wait a few more weeks, that's ok too!


Determine whether you will plant in groups or intersperse the plants to create a more informal look. Whether you are planting 2" plugs or quarts or larger size pots, it always helps to set the plants out, take a step back and see if you are happy with it. Keep in mind the height of the perennials. You may want to place taller flowers to the back or in the middle of the bed. Then again, there are some people who like the abundantly full look and don't hesitate to plant taller flowers in front.



Step 6: Mulch and Water

Mulch bare areas to keep weeds out and moisture in. Once the bed fills in this will not be necessary. Water every couple of days for the first few weeks and then you can taper off. I always think it is a good idea to water newly planted plants once a week in their first year unless there has been a lot of rain. The consistent moisture helps get plants established.



Step 7: Enjoy!


Happy Gardening.

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We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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