March 12 is National Plant A Flower Day, and you don’t have to have a green thumb to join in the fun! There are many easy flowers you can grow indoors or outdoors to celebrate and a millions reasons why you should!
Beyond just being pretty, there’s an earth-loving reason to plant a flower today: just like trees, flowers are great for the environment. They clean the air by sucking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Planted outdoors, flower roots help purify water and prevent erosion. Flowers provide food for important pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, and they can attract beneficial insects, like ladybugs and lacewings, reducing the need for dangerous chemical fertilizers. They smell great, look beautiful, some even taste delicious, and studies show flowers can enhance mood, creativity, productivity, mental clarity, compassion, as well aid in healing, reduce stress, anxiety, and pain.
Here are 5 easy, low maintenance and beautiful flowers even a brown thumb can master:
Cosmos are delicate, low maintenance, beautiful flowers that grow in a multitude of colors. Tall varieties are best suited for outdoor gardens, but smaller varieties do very well in containers. Cosmos prefers full sun, and can tolerate dry conditions. They are great as cut flowers in arrangements, and attract beneficial pollinators to outdoor gardens. They grow easily from seeds sown after danger of frost, do well in even poor soil, and are self-seeding, so plants can continue in garden beds year after year. Once plants are established, they are drought tolerant as well.
2. Marigolds (Tagetes Tenuifolia or Calendula)
Marigolds are lovely, bright gold, yellow, or copper colored flowers that can be grown in containers or outdoors. Marigolds are also very low maintenance and with a little deadheading (snipping off wilted blooms), they will bloom for an extended amount of time – well into fall. Sprinkle seeds on soil, cover lightly, and water gently. They prefer full sun, and can handle infrequent watering. Additionally, marigolds are pest-free flowers, and are often used in vegetable gardens to repel invasive insects from plants like tomatoes and beans. However, the marigold scent that repels insects and other garden invaders has been diluted in hybrid varieties, so always try to use organic, heirloom seeds whenever possible.
Calendula Marigolds petals can also add vibrant color and tangy spice to salads or sandwiches, and the petals can add gorgeous saffron tint (but the flavor fades when cooked) to rice. ‘Lemon Gem’ and ‘Tangerine Gem’ are the only edible varieties of Tegetes Marigolds, and add a citrus flavor to recipes.
3. Snap Dragons (Antirrhinum majus)
A garden favorite with children and adults alike, snap dragons are fun flowers that resemble Chinese dragons opening their jaws when the intricate petals are gently pressed from the side. Snapdragons come in nearly every color besides true blue and make impressive, tall cut arrangements. Snap dragons are not edible, however, so keep them out of your salads. They are easy to grow in both pots and directly in the soil and are especially profuse in cooler weather, providing lovely colored blooms in early spring and fall. Full sun to part shade will make them happy, and seeds can simple be pressed lightly into soil. As with most flowers, deadheading will force additional blooms. Snap dragon seeds germinate well if they are pre-frozen for 48 hours before planting. Sow seeds lightly on top of soil, pressing gently down so they don’t blow or get washed away.
4. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
Nasturtiums are a very popular flower to grow in outdoor gardens, or in large or hanging containers for their vibrant blooms, great fragrance, and peppery, edible leaves, flowers, and seed pods. They grow very easily, rapidly, and even seem to prefer a little neglect. Nasturtiums are great as edging plants, and will climb walls, or spill over borders. They like full sun, but can also thrive in partial shade. Nasturtiums start well from seed, but prefer not to be moved once planted, so try to sow them directly in garden beds, or in their final containers. Once they are established, they are pretty, no fuss flowers. As with most flowering plants, dead heading, or plucking off faded blooms, will promote further blooms. Nasturtium can grow profusely, so container plants can be cut back occasionally.
5. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet Alyssum is a lovely, low ground cover with a honey vanilla scent and tiny, compact, white, purple, or pink blooms. Alyssum grows very well in the nooks and crannies between stones or tucked in with other plants, in wide open gardens, as well as hanging pots and containers. It prefers full sun, but may wilt a bit in the heat. Easy to start from seed, simply scatter and press into the soil gently since it requires light to germinate. Water lightly and whenever soil feels dry. Heirloom varieties will self-seed.
As always, remember to plant organic, and if possible, heirloom seeds from sources such as Seeds of Change, Sustainable Seed Company, or Seed Savers, an excellent non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing heirloom seeds, is a great resource for heirloom seeds.
Happy National Plant A Flower Day!
Image source: Leon Brooks / Wikimedia Commons