Like all plants, flowers require some basic care to thrive. At a minimum, they need a steady supply of water and nutrients. To really thrive, they may need some occasional weeding plus special needs such as staking or deadheading.
All plants require a steady supply of water. Flowers are especially dependent on a steady supply because their blossoms are damaged by even a brief wilt. Whereas leaves may wilt and recover, flower petals seldom recover from wilting.
In regions that get summer rainfall, give flowers about an inch of additional water per week during dry spells. Flowers in the arid West will require about 2 inches a week.
Feel the soil frequently to check its moisture. When it’s time to water, the soil just under the surface should feel slightly cool to the touch, but will not wet or muddy your finger. Flowers that are prone to leaf diseases, such as zinnias and snapdragons, will stay healthier if you can keep their leaves dry. Water them with drip irrigation systems that leak water directly onto the soil. Other flowers can be watered with drip irrigation or sprinklers.
There are two basic approaches to fertilizing flower gardens. Both are satisfactory, and the approach you take depends on your needs. The first approach is to have your garden soil analyzed. Your state agricultural college probably offers soil testing for a nominal fee. Along with your analysis, your will receive a recommendation for fertilizing. By following this recommendation, you will supply your flowers with all their needed nutrients.
The second approach is to use a balanced plant food — one that contains a spectrum of plant nutrients. Flowering plants require about the same nutrients as other plants, with one exception: if some flowering plants are given too much nitrogen, they will grow leaves at the expense of flowers. Select a plant food formulated for flowers. It’s ideal for all flowering annuals and perennials and is available in both water-soluble (so you can feed as you water) .
Make the flower garden unfriendly to weeds to prevent their growth. Use mulches, preventive weed controls, and make a point of removing weeds before they go to seed. For more information, see Controlling Weeds in a Flower Garden .
Supporting and grooming flowers
Flowers need some special care that other plants don’t. Some flowers have blooms that are so heavy they can fall over and break in a wind. These flowers should be supported. Read about different methods of supporting flowers in Supporting Flowers.
To look their best and bloom their most, old flowers must be removed in a process called deadheading. Flowers can be made more attractive by some other grooming techniques. Read about them at Grooming Flowers