Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

February 26, 2017

Choosing flowers based on attractive foliage

Choosing flowers, or any plant, based entirely on the bloom is a serious mistake. That's because plants aren't in bloom all of the time. Most of the time you're looking at their foliage. And that's why you should choose flowers based on foliage that's attractive to you.

There's an old saying with gardeners that blooms come and go, but the foliage is always there. And that's what you're gonna be looking at mostly. Yes, when your flowers bloom, you'll go take a closeup photo of the flower, and the foliage will be less important to the composition of the photo, but in real life, you're gonna see foliage. It's part of the reason that so many people are disappointed with the flowers that they plant in their garden. But I have a solution.

When you look at a flowering plant, look at the foliage first. Ask yourself what the plant would look like without any flowers? Would it just look like a stray weed? There are a lot of flowers that look great when flowering but look just awful any other time. And all that matters is what it looks like to you - if it looks like a weed to you, then you won't want to see it in your garden.

This season I planted daffodils, iris, and geraniums. The daffodils are the big King Alfred variety, with the thick blue-green foliage, which looks good to me even without flowers. The geraniums, I'll admit, look a little weedy to me, so I'm anxious for blooms. The iris foliage is beautiful even without flowers. I especially like the way that it catches the light in the morning.

By the way, even the aloes back there bloom. The blooms last about a month, and the rest of the year I enjoy the shape of the plant - the foliage.

I hope this helps. If you're apologizing that your garden doesn't look like much, and people should come back when the flowers are in bloom, you've made a mistake. Choose attractive foliage.
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