Types of Flowers: Flower Identification and Garden Tips

picture of elephant's head lousewort flowers

The types of flowers that mark our days and seasons come in many forms and colors. Their power stems as much from their ability to relay an emotional thought as with their ability to promote healthy soils and beautiful landscapes.

For comprehensive coverage, the encyclopedic effort of the Flora of North America project provides a great starting place for understanding the subject of native North American plants. The project identifies approximately twenty thousand species, spanning thirty volumes. While no way a match for the Flora of North America project, the presentation covers many popular garden flowers.

The first of four different ways a gardener might organize his/her thinking about flower garden planning begins with a top five lists of garden flowers that offer consumers both native and non-native choices. Everyone has their favorite flower family, and the choice varies from review to review. Cactus, daisies, irises, lilies and orchids were chosen for this top five list because they represent the ecosystem diversity that defines North American gardens. Please read on to check out additional flower garden choices.

Types of Flowers for the Gardens

picture of a ground succulent with red flowers

The rise of the floriculture industry has also changed the way the average American thinks of flower gardens. Recent statistics from the National Agricultural Statistics Service shows Americans continue to spend on outdoor plants and flower gardens. While annuals continue as America’s favorite floriculture crop category (34.1%), Americans continue to display a preferences for herbaceous perennials, with garden chrysanthemums ranking at the top of the mass market herbaceous perennial sales list.

Second, after attending to their flower and plant garden needs, the average American spends an additional 30.9% of their floriculture budget on indoor and patio plants. The potted flower plants and potted foliage plants slices in the pie chart include both holiday favorite potted plants such as poinsettia, and seasonal potted plants such as the hanging baskets so visible at local home and garden retail outlets during spring, summer and fall.

Third, the remaining 20% of the average American’s floriculture budget splits almost evenly between cut flowers and the propagative materials categories, with propagative materials a catch all category that includes items such as seeds, seedlings, soils and other materials necessary for consumers to raise indoor and outdoor flowers and plants.

Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service: Floriculture Crops 2010 Summary (April 2011).

Garden Themes

picture of some succulents in bloom with a garden art theme, types of flowers

Gardeners often plan their gardens around specific themes. Sports enthusiasts, for example, might landscape their yards with flower colors to match the colors of their favorite teams. In addition to the popular commercial flower varieties available at local plant nurseries, gardeners are beginning to use native plants, or wildflowers as they are commonly called, as a garden theme.

February marks the traditional start of native flower bloom time, especially in and around the southern areas of the country such as California, Florida and Texas. Flower blooming time then moves north, continuing through the spring and summer, with blooms popping out of the ground along the plains, prairies, valleys and mountains from coast to coast. Come fall, mushrooms take center stage.

Botanists and gardening enthusiasts promote native plants typically, but not always, as low maintenance garden plants, in need of little extraordinary preparation or care. They also do double duty keeping the native pollinators healthy. As such, native plants offer organic gardeners excellent flower choices.

The six garden themes presented here only skim the surface of the almost unlimited number of themes available to gardeners. Readers are invited to check them out, and with a bit of imagination, add to them in order to create a garden theme of their liking.

Organic Gardening Tip: Pockets of organic growing exist in the floriculture industry, although many growers practice integrated pest management techniques, relying on both organic and chemical pest management strategies.

Gardeners planning to raise indoor or outdoor organic plants and flowers might want to consider the source of their propagative materials. The links in the box provide further information on native flower species, especially suited for organic flower gardens, given the fact of their history of growing organically in the wild.