How to Use Flowers for Color, Comfort

If you think about it, flowers serve several purposes.

They can impress a date or add comfort to a funeral. Flowers add pop and color to a home’s landscape and are also a vital source of food and comfort for pollinating insects. In short, the homeowner who plants with abundant flowers is bound to reap the benefits.

“There are intangible benefits, like joy, calm and peace,” says Cathy Ott, secretary/treasurer at Rock Valley Garden Center, 785 N. Bell School Road, in Rockford. “There are also tangible benefits, like attracting more birds, butterflies and pollinators to your yard. Flowers also make for great curb appeal, so if you’re trying to sell your home, flowers really create a strong first impression.”

One of the most common themes Ott sees these days is people selecting flowers along a particular theme. People who enjoy hosting parties in their backyard might seek out flowers that bloom at night, like the moonflower, which opens when the sun goes down.

“People have done night blooming gardens,” Ott says. “The plant is growing during the day and getting sunlight, but the flower itself opens at night.”

People also enjoy flowers that bring their yard to life with color and with wildlife. Butterflies, for example, enjoy marigolds, sunflowers and salvia. Hummingbirds enjoy more tubular-shaped flowers like hot lips, which is a type of salvia.

“Every year, I have to increase the number of salvias that we grow, because they’re a magnet for hummingbirds,” Ott says. “It doesn’t have to have a fragrance and it doesn’t have to have a red color, but they’re attracted to red, which is why you’ll see hummingbird feeders that are red. They get the nectar from the flower and they’ll keep coming back because they know it’s a good source of nectar.”

People also create their version of a children’s garden, which makes a special place to keep the kids busy. Common favorites are lamb’s ear, which is soft to the touch, and snapdragons, which kids like to squeeze. ❚