The Most Beautiful Flowers You Can Plant in Your Garden

Beautiful Flowers

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Some flowers capture the imagination like no other. The beauty of these flowers makes them iconic: When we see them, we are transported to a garden wedding, tropical destination, or secret forest. Yet, most of the flowers can grow in the typical suburban landscape, as a hardy perennial or patio specimen, and some are even easy to grow from seed. From exotic imports to native wildflowers, choose one of the most beautiful flowers in the world to grow in your garden.

  • 01 of 15

    Zygopetalum Orchid

    Zygopetalum Orchid

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    Take the inherent beauty of the orchid, and add fantastic speckling and unusual anatomy, and you will recognize one of the dozen or so species of the Zygopetalum genus of orchids. Unlike many orchids, the zygopetalum is also very fragrant. Grow in partial shade in humid conditions, and protect from hot summer temperatures and freezing temperatures. A hanging basket under the dappled shade of a tree provides the best lighting conditions for the zygopetalum orchid.

  • 02 of 15

    English Rose

    Abraham Darby English Rose

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    English roses like the 'Abraham Darby' variety shown here are revered for their large blooms packed with petals and old world fragrance. Many of the most beloved English roses (Rosa) come from the David Austin breeding program, where roses undergo an eight year trial program to identify the most outstanding garden varieties. Grow these zone 5-9 plants in full sun in rich loam, and fertilize once in spring and once in summer.

  • 03 of 15

    Dinner Plate Dahlia

    Kevin Floodlight Dinnerplate Dahlia

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    Some people automatically think of giant dinner plate blooms at the mention of dahlias, but the Dahlia genus includes small poms and single daisy-like flowers as well. Growing a dinner plate dahlia is both art and science. Choose a variety that has the potential to produce mammoth blooms, like the 'Kevin Floodlight' pictured here. Plant in these annuals in full sun, provide plenty of fertilizer and water, and remove all buds but one to direct plant energy to the large bloom. Dinner plate dahlias need a long time to mature, and may need a head start indoors north of growing zone 5.

  • 04 of 15

    Turkscap Lily

    Turkscap Lilies

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    So many features of the Turkscap lily (Lilium martagon) make it special: the impressive four-foot stalks, the pendant-like shape of each blossom, and the profusion of blooms on each stalk. Much less common in the trade than Oriental or Asiatic lilies, martagon lilies like their feet in the shade and their blooms in the sun in zones 3-8. They need a sheltered spot where they won't be subjected to wind, and they need very good drainage. The variety 'R.O. Backhouse' shown here features pink buds that open to gold flowers dusted with purple freckles.

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  • 05 of 15

    Himalayan Poppy

    Blue Poppy

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    The allure of the Meconopsis betonicifolia is strong, aided by the fact that the flowers need very particular growing conditions in zones 5-7 and only bloom for about two weeks. The national flower of Bhutan grows best in areas that resemble its native habitat, with cool summers and moist soil.

  • 06 of 15

    Delphinium

    Delphiniums, Blue Larkspur

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    Few flowers are as arresting as a healthy stand of Delphinium elatum in full bloom. Every coveted shade of blue is present, from wispy powder puff blue to robust violet. Delphiniums do well in areas with cool or mild summers in zones 3-7. They need rich soil, staking, and regular moisture.

  • 07 of 15

    Toad Lily

    Toad Lily

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    Although the color and form of the exotic-looking toad lily (Tryicyrtis hirta) read like a tender tropical plant, this shade-loving perennial is surprisingly hardy. The fall bloomers are hardy to zone 4, and will multiply slowly in moist soils.

  • 08 of 15

    Foxglove

    Foxglove Flowers

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    Are foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) the most beautiful flower in the landscape? Bumblebees seem to think so, and love them so dearly they sometimes spend the night in the tubular blossoms so they can get an early start when the sun rises. Plants are biennial in zones 4-8, meaning they produce foliage one season and flower the next. However, when self-seeding begins in partial shade and moist soil, you may always have one generation of plants ready to bloom, while the next prepares itself. Try 'Mountains Mixed,' which has upright-facing flowers.

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  • 09 of 15

    Bearded Iris

    Bearded Iris Wabash

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    Bearded irises (Iris germanica) are as tough and low maintenance as they are exquisite to behold in the sunny zone 3-10 garden. Expect to see varieties like 'Wabash,' a Dykes Memorial Medal winner, peak in May. Divide bearded irises every few years to keep them vigorous.

  • 10 of 15

    Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

    Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

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    The name says it all. While there aren't really any unattractive peonies (Paeonia), 'Bowl of Beauty' is the perfect marriage of color and form. The large circumference of fuchsia guard petals surround a frilly lemon center of petaloids, which create the bowl. Peonies don't ask for much in their decades of life: full sun and good drainage are enough to produce masses of blooms in soil of average fertility. Peonies are exceptionally hardy, to zone 3 or 2, giving northern gardeners something to look forward to after a grueling winter.

  • 11 of 15

    Bird of Paradise

    Bird of Paradise Plant

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    Go ahead, anthropomorphize this flower—you won't be the first one to coddle and pamper your Strelitzia reginae flowers as if they were pets. In spite of their exotic appearance, the South African natives are not fussy plants, and will grow in many situations as long as you protect them from cold. Plant them in full or partial sun in regular potting soil, and water when soil surface is dry. Plants must overwinter indoors north of zone 10.

  • 12 of 15

    Cockscomb

    Red Cockscomb Flower

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    Whether you think Celosia argentea var. cristata is gaudy or gorgeous, no one can deny that the crested flowers are fascinating. Cockscomb flowers are annuals that are easy to grow from seed, and plants may even self-sow. In addition to red, these sun lovers come in orange, pink, yellow, and purple hues. For big, showy plants look for those in the 'Chief' series, which may grow three feet tall and have blooms several inches across.

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  • 13 of 15

    Protea

    King Protea

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    At once spiky and delicate, king protea (Protea cynaroides) evolved to survive in the harsh South African climate, while attracting pollinators at the same time. It must work, because protea plants are one of the most ancient flowers, evolving more than one hundred million years ago. Grow protea in full sun and water sparingly. Plants are evergreen and hardy to zone 9.

  • 14 of 15

    Love-Lies-Bleeding

    Love Lies Bleeding

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    Also known as the tassel flower, Amaranthus caudatus makes a stunning hanging basket specimen. Plants are easy to grow as annuals in all growing zones. Plants bloom from July to frost in full sun, and blooming panicles may reach up to two feet long. The edible, nutritious seeds are a bonus.

  • 15 of 15

    Wisteria

    Wisteria

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    Although some wisteria varieties (Wisteria sinensis) have a thuggish reputation in the garden, a well-maintained native Wisteria vine (Wisteria frutescens or Wisteria macrostachya) in full bloom can give the impression that one has entered the Garden of Eden. Prune and train over a sturdy structure like an arbor or gazebo, as most trellises can't do the job. Vines are hardy down to zone 5.