10 Flowers That Give You Bang for Your Buck
Photo By: Photo by Felder Rushing
Photo By: Image courtesy of Johnny's Selected Seeds.
Photo By: PerennialResource.com
Photo By: Image courtesy of Burpee
©National Gardening Association
Photo By: Shutterstock/Leene
Photo By: Shutterstock/Peter Turner Photography
This exotic stunner will attract attention in a sunny border, growing rapidly over a single season into a ten-foot-high behemoth. You can use the dried seed pods in flower arrangements, but handle them carefully, as the seeds are the source of the poison ricin; if you have kids or pets, it’s best to cut off the fuzzy pink flowers before they go to seed.
Amaranth/Love Lies Bleeding
Amaranth tops the list of ten beauties selected by Hillary Alger of Johnny’s Selected Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com) that provide major returns for minor investment. All are widely available from garden centers, but you can also grow them from seed for pennies. Amaranth’s unique bloom shape is an exciting contrast to typical border flowers and makes a lovely filler for flower arrangements. Some varieties, like those shown, have pendulous blooms; others have spiky upright shapes.
If you have a big space to fill, monarda will rise to the occasion. In most gardens, it spreads vigorously but not aggressively, making a towering clump of spiky crimson blooms that draw hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. Chances are, you’ll be attracted to the fresh, minty scent as well — you can make a brightly flavored tea from the flowers and leaves.
Sunflowers are the definition of showy, and there are so many interesting varieties available from seed that it’s a shame not to have at least one in your border. As a bonus, branching varieties produce lots of extra blooms for your tabletop. Hillary Alger of Johnny’s Selected Seeds likes to grow a mix of branching sunflowers together: ‘Strawberry Blonde,’ pictured above, ‘Holiday,’ ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Buttercream’ make a tasty palette.
You may be wary of growing morning glories because the family is host to some thuggy plants — but the annual ‘Heavenly Blue’ (Ipomoea tricolor) isn’t one of them. Tip: Always check your state’s invasive species list to be sure. This well-behaved climber is a graceful way to garden vertically — give it a support to climb on and it will reward you with a sea of dreamy blue blooms. But don’t fertilize, or you’ll get more foliage than flowers.
As the garden saying goes, your containers need a thriller (the dramatic focal plant), a filler (for texture), and a spiller (something lovely to cascade over the edges). If you’re looking for drama, trailing nasturtium is a spiller that might just steal the scene — it glows red, orange, rose, and yellow over healthy green foliage all season long. Plus it tastes nice and peppery on a salad.
Scarlet Runner Bean
This is another fast-growing vine that provides effective screening while attracting hummingbirds with its intense scarlet blooms. Edible flowers and tasty bean pods help it pay the rent — you can eat the pods fresh when they’re young or as shelling beans when they mature.