Few can resist the wow factor of a giant sunflower or a stand of stately delphiniums in the landscape, but if you've overlooked the appeal of tiny flowers, you're missing out on a world of fragrance and beauty that will enhance your borders, hanging baskets, and even fairy gardens.
Part of the wonder of tiny flowers is their sheer mass; a single plant may contain thousands of flowers, beckoning butterflies with their shallow nectar tubes. Many tiny flowers are also extremely drought-proof; their small size helps them to reduce moisture lost to evaporation. Tuck them into a rock wall, plant them between pavers, use them as fillers, or add them to cut flower arrangements, and watch how these minuscule but mighty blooms encourage you to stop to get a closer look at nature's perfection in diminutive form.
01 of 09
You may know baby's breath best as a cliche filler flower in Valentine's bouquets, but this perennial flower really shines in the garden. Although these flowers have a delicate appearance, they are quite tough in the landscape. Plants thrive in dry, average soil, but this is one plant that prefers alkaline conditions, which makes it ideal for rock gardens. 'Bristol Fairy' is a reliable performer, and will bloom from April until the end of summer.
02 of 09
Also known as starflower and alpine blossom, Erinus alpinus can be started from seed, but is easier to grow as a plant acquired from a nursery specializing in alpine plants. As suggested by the photo, the plants will happily grow in any rock crevice or wall. Unlike many rock garden plants, fairy foxglove will grow in partial shade.
03 of 09
If you struggle to find a pretty plant for your woodland garden that the rabbits and deer won't bother, try low maintenance forget-me-not, a hardy perennial in zones 3-8. In April and May, the plants are covered in bright blue flowers with cheerful yellow eyes. Although a short-lived perennial, the plants will self-seed and return for many years in moist areas.
04 of 09
Part of the charm of Cymbalaria muralis, also called ivy-leaved toadflax, is the wonderful scalloped foliage that adds texture to the landscape even when the lavender flowers aren't blooming. However, that doesn't happen much, as the plants can remain in bloom from spring until fall in moist soils with some afternoon shade. Kenilworth ivy is only hardy in zones 6 and warmer, but self-seeding in colder areas is common.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
The true-blue flowers of annual Lobelia erinus are a popular filler plant in early spring containers and hanging baskets, and new varieties of this plant ensure that blooms won't fade when the weather heats up. 'Laguna' Sky Blue from Proven Winners is a mounding and trailing plant that reaches no more than a foot tall in your containers and requires no deadheading during the growing season. When nights get hot, shear the plant and keep it hydrated for a repeat bloom after temperatures drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
06 of 09
If you aren't familiar with rock cress, there are more than a dozen hybrids to start your collection, including the 'Axcent Lilac' shown here, or you can grow the species Aubrieta gracilis from seed. In mid to late spring, the evergreen foliage sports hundreds of pink, purple, or blue flowers on two to four-inch plants. Trim the plants after blooming to maintain the compact, mounding shape.
07 of 09
The silver foliage of Cerastium tomentosum is a clue to the drought tolerance of this tough perennial. A versatile plant, you can use snow in summer to accent border edges, fill in crevices, or tuck in between garden pavers. Plants are also excellent rock garden candidates, as they thrive in full sun and sharply draining soils. Snow in summer is hardy down to zone 3, making it a welcome addition to alpine gardens.
08 of 09
Far from trifling, the fragrance of tiny sweet alyssum blooms has been compared to fresh honey. The plants are common offerings in garden centers everywhere in early spring, or you can grow a range of luscious Easter egg hues from seed. The seeds germinate very quickly, sometimes in less than a week, and transplants thrive in cool spring weather. Give the plants a haircut when blooming gets sparse to rejuvenate these annuals.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
It's always a joy when a plant can do double duty in the garden, and thyme fulfills that role nicely. Choose a cultivar that acts both as a flowering ground cover and has culinary value, such as 'Italian Oregano' thyme. All thymes need full sun and good drainage, and plants respond well to shearing after the month of spring blooms pass. In turn, the plant will attract native bees and beneficial wasps, and the leaves will add their savory essence to your soups and vegetables.