When flower gardening, it’s easy to make quick decisions in terms of planting, design, and care to get things done. But there are a few things to keep in mind so your garden is healthy, bountiful, and beautiful this year. Here are 17 common mistakes you might regret later.

As a home gardener with over 25 years of experience, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.

While some of these mistakes were minor and easy to fix, others were more regrettable and left me wishing I had done things differently.

From making decisions without thinking them through to cutting corners and sheer neglect, there are better, more efficient ways of accomplishing garden tasks without the drama.

So today, I want to share with you 17 flower gardening mistakes you may regret, in hopes that you can avoid these same mistakes in your own garden.

Here’s what you need to know.

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17 Common Flower Gardening Mistakes You Might Regret Later

Flower gardening is a delightful and rewarding hobby, allowing us to bring vibrant colors and captivating fragrances into our outdoor spaces.

Not to mention all of those beautiful bouquets we can cut from our own gardens.

However, even the most experienced gardeners can fall victim to certain mistakes that might leave them with regrets later on.

Whether it’s overlooking crucial factors or underestimating the needs of different flower varieties, these missteps can hinder the growth and beauty of our beloved gardens.

Here are 17 common flower gardening mistakes that home gardeners and enthusiasts should be wary of, to ensure a flourishing and enchanting garden that brings joy all season long.

calendula, larkspur, snapdragons in potager garden by fountain

Planting a Tree or Shrub Too Close to the House That is Larger Than the Space Allotted

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in flower gardening is planting a tree or shrub too close to your house.

This can lead to all sorts of problems, from the roots growing into your foundation to the branches rubbing against your siding.

But worst of all?

It can create a lot more work for you in the long run because you may need to continually prune it to keep it in check.

When choosing trees or shrubs for your yard, make sure you take into account their mature size and give them enough space to grow without causing any damage to your home.

In short, measure your garden space, read the plant tags, and plant accordingly.

front porch gardens at sunset in july 2023 with hostas, gomphrena and rudbeckia that isn't blooming yet. outside 1850 farmhouse

Planting Invasives

Invasive plants can quickly take over your garden and push out native species, making it difficult to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem.

Before planting any new species in your garden, make sure to research them to ensure they aren’t on the naughty list and won’t become a problem down the line.

Reach out to your local cooperative extension to make sure plants are not invasive in your locality. And keep in mind that just because you can find it at the local nursery, doesn’t mean it isn’t invasive.

Examples of some invasive plants include:

  • wisteria
  • lonicera
  • trumpet vine
  • morning glory
  • bamboo

You can find non-invasive varieties of certain plants, so check plant labels and speak with your local cooperative extension as they’d have the best information for your area.

close up of lonicera flower

Planting in the Wrong Location

Choosing the right location for your plants is crucial to their survival and success. Some plants need full sun, while others prefer shade, so it’s important to take into account the specific needs of each plant before adding them in your garden.

But it’s not only light conditions you should be concerned about.

You should also understand your soil quality before planting. Take a soil test to determine how healthy your soil is and what it needs to make it optimal for growing the flower garden of your dreams.

pink zinnias close up
Zinnias in the potager garden

Flower Gardening With High-Maintenance Plants

While high-maintenance plants can be beautiful, they can also be a lot of work. If you’re short on time or prefer low-maintenance flower gardening, it’s best to stick with plants that don’t require a lot of attention.

I love dahlias, but they need a lot of your time to grow well. From planting them at the right time, to pinching them back, supporting the flowers, and digging up the tubers, it can be very time-consuming.

If you don’t want to do that much work, choose different flowers to grow that will require less time and energy from you.

Dahlia 'Jowey Winnie' flowers close up
Dahlia ‘Jowey Winnie’

Setting Irrigation Timers For Your Garden Too Often and Late in the Evening

Watering your garden is essential, but setting your irrigation timers too often and late in the evening can lead to problems like mold and disease.

Instead, try to water early in the morning when it’s cooler and the water has time to soak into the soil before the sun gets too hot.

We have an irrigation service here and every year, I argue with guys who open up the lines about the best time to water the lawn. They ALWAYS want to set the timers up around midnight. And I make them schedule it for 5AM.

It’s also important to water less often and more deeply when you water to develop deeper root systems on your plants.

nepeta walkers low and moonbeam coreopsis in the driveway garden in new jersey zone 6a
Nepeta ‘Walkers Low’ and ‘Moonbeam’ Coreopsis

Starting a New Garden That Is Far Away From a Water Source

If you’re starting a new garden, it’s important to choose a location that is close to a water source.

Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time hauling water back and forth, which can be both time-consuming and exhausting.

If you’ve never dragged a 100-foot house around in a hot and humid summer, I don’t recommend it. So make sure you site your garden close to a water source.

zinnias and borage in the potager garden with a fountain

Going With the Smaller Planter

While smaller planters can be convenient and easy to move around, they can also limit the growth of your plants and dry out more quickly.

When I first started out with planters, I used lots of small terra cotta pots that fried my plants as soon as the summer temperatures rose.

Terra cotta draws moisture out of the soil and I just couldn’t water these plants often enough every day to keep them going through the heat of summer.

And while I love terra cotta, small containers with flowers are not the way to go in the heat of summer.

Since I started using larger containers I’ve had much greater success with outdoor planters. They can be much heavier to move around, so choose a planter that is lighter weight or put them on a dolley.

You can even lighten up larger containers by filling the bottom with crushed-down used nursery pots. Just be sure you don’t do more than 1/3-ish of the pot so there is plenty of soil for roots to grow into.

If you want your plants to thrive, it’s important to give them plenty of space to spread out and grow. And using larger containers means there is more growing space and soil to retain moisture.

Not to mention, you can plant more flowers!

In a typical 20″ planter, I may use 8-10 flowering annuals depending on their growth size. Sure I may stuff them in, but the flower gardening season is so short here, that I want those containers looking full from the outset.

shade container garden in the zen garden in terra cotta pot
container grouping in the zen garden with pink, yellow and purple flowers

Not Watering More Often During Extreme Heat in Summer

When the temperatures rise in the summer, your plants will need more water to stay hydrated.

If you’re not watering them enough, they can quickly become stressed and start to wilt.

To avoid this, make sure to water your plants more frequently during the hottest months of the year.

And keep in mind, that even though the forecast calls for rain…it might not rain.

If unsure whether or not to water, check the soil by sticking your finger down about an inch. If the soil is wet, skip watering that day to avoid waterlogging your plants. Or you can purchase a moisture meter like this one.

calendula larkspur and snapdragons in potager
Snapdragons, Larkspur and Calendula

Not Pulling Those Weeds

Weeds can quickly take over your garden and steal nutrients from your plants. To keep them under control, make sure to pull them out as soon as you see them.

One year, I was so busy with my kids, I noticed a threading week going through my garden. Well, I kept telling myself I’d take care of it later. That weed turned out to be dodder and I had to rip out a large section of my garden to eradicate it.

And even then, it still came back for a few years after. It was terrible and I have never made that mistake again.

So pull the weeds as you see them!

gomphrena and sweet alyssum with hostas in the front porch garden in new jersey zone 6a

Not Protecting Susceptible Plants from Deer Damage

Deer can cause a lot of damage to your garden, especially if you’re growing plants that they find particularly tasty.

To protect your plants from deer, consider using deer netting or other physical barriers like an 8-foot fence.

Since that isn’t always an option, you can also use deer repellent sprays like this and this. But you can also opt for plants that deer prefer not to eat.

Or you can plant more susceptible plants among less susceptible plants.

I recommend doing multiple things to protect garden plants from deer damage. But the short of it is, protect your plants the moment you bring them home from the garden nursery.

I’ve had many friends bring a susceptible plant home, leave it out unprotected, and find it decimated by morning.

close up of hostas in the shade garden
Hostas

Overfertilizing Plants

Fertilizing your plants is essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients to grow, but overfertilizing can harm your plants.

Not to mention, some plants don’t need fertilizer.

Too much fertilizer can burn the roots and leaves, causing them to turn yellow and wilt.

To avoid overfertilizing, follow the instructions on the fertilizer package, and don’t apply more than the recommended amount.

For my flowering annuals, I love this and this slow-release fertilizer. And to give blooms a boost every few waterings, I feed them with this water-soluble fertilizer.

As an aside, I do not fertilize my perennials or shrubs, unless they are maintained in containers. Instead, I focus on good soil quality by amending the soil with compost, leaf mold, and a yearly mulch application.

borage and zinnias in potager garden are great companion plant ideas
Borage in the Potager Garden
pink coreopsis in the porch garden
Coreopsis

Not Using Native Plants

Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them easy to grow and maintain.

They also provide food and shelter for local wildlife and pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, which contribute to the ecosystem’s overall health.

For an easy-care, low-maintenance flower garden, consider using native plants in your garden. Research what plants are native to your region and choose the ones that suit your garden’s conditions.

Here is a great resource to help you learn what’s native in your locality.

close up of echinacea in my cottage garden -15 Mistakes New Gardeners Should Avoid
Purple Coneflowers

Not Digging Up Those Dahlias and Other Tender Perennials

Some plants like dahlias, cannas, colocasia, caladiums, and gladiolus are tender perennials, which means they cannot survive the winter in colder regions.

To avoid that twinge of regret, it’s crucial to dig up these plants in the fall, store them in a cool, dry place, and replant them in the spring.

This will help ensure that your favorite plants come back next year without having to re-buy them.

dahlia flowers in july 2023 in potager garden

Putting Off What You Can Do Now and Forgetting To Do It Later

Procrastination is a common problem for many gardeners, and it can lead to regret. If you see a task that needs to be done, like weeding, watering, or dealing with a pest, it’s best to do it right away.

If you put it off, you may forget about it, and the problem will become worse. Set a schedule or reminders for yourself to keep on top of your garden tasks.

I can’t tell you how many times I see japanese beetles on my plants. Then think to myself, I should get out there with a bucket of soapy water.

And then I don’t do it for a few days only to find lots of holes in the foliage that I’ll never get back this season.

pink hardy hibiscus in the front yard garden
Hardy Hibiscus – Notice the holes from Japanese Beetle damage.

Not Staking Plants Early Enough

Some plants like tomatoes, peppers, dahlias, snapdragons, peonies, and sunflowers require staking to keep them upright and prevent them from breaking in the wind.

Stake your plants early on in the season before they get too big and start to flop over.

You can use green garden stakes, bamboo stakes, cages, grow-through hoops, or trellises to support your plants.

light pink peonies
Peonies

Making Your Garden Too Big

While it’s tempting to create a large garden, it can also be overwhelming and challenging to maintain.

Don’t bite off more you can chew. Instead, start small and gradually expand your garden as you gain more experience.

Choose the plants that you love and that fit your garden’s conditions, and plant them in a manageable space.

If you are just starting out, container gardening or planting annuals are a great way to get your feet wet.

first flowers in the potager garden with raised beds filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs with a fountain
The potager garden where I’m also growing a cut flower garden too.

Using Weed Fabric in a Flower Garden

Weed fabric may seem like a convenient solution to prevent weeds or to help start a new garden, but it can actually do more harm than good.

Weed fabric can prevent water and nutrients from reaching your plants, leading to stunted growth and root rot.

Not to mention, it’s really hard to plant in because you’ll need to cut through it to dig in new flowers.

Instead of using weed fabric, consider mulching your garden with organic materials like leaves, newspaper, grass clippings, or compost. This will help suppress weeds and provide nutrients to your plants.

And if you are looking to start a new garden or suppress weeds, I recommend using a few layers of newspaper then adding mulch on top to kill grass or weeds.

The newspaper eventually breaks down and enriches the soil so it’s a great method for doing either of those tasks instead of using weed fabric.

close up of larkspur in the potager garden - pink pruple and white flowers
Larkspur

More Flower Gardening Mistakes to Avoid

Have you made a mistake in the garden that you learned from and would like to share? I would love to know more in the comments below.

And don’t miss joining my Gardening DIY and Decorating Community on Facebook for more chatter. And follow along there and on Instagram as well. There are behind-the-scenes daily things that I share on Instagram that don’t make it to the blog. Would love to see you there too!

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dahlia kogane fubuki in the potager garden

Click here to shop my favorite garden supplies!

Garden Supplies I Use

I’m often asked about the garden supplies and tools that I use most. From pruners to deer repellents, here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Click here to shop my vintage farmhouse with close up of the front porch with flowers

Looking for More Flower Garden Ideas?

If you love flowers and want to grow more in your garden, here are some posts that will get you on your way.

From tucking in flowering plants that are deer-resistant or ones that attract more butterflies and hummingbirds, to shade-loving flowers like the lenten rose, these posts will get you on your way to growing a garden that will bring joy for years to come.

Here are more cut flower and cottage garden growing tips, tricks, and design inspiration.

view of the front porch cottage garden with sugar pumpkins, sedum autumn joy, rudbeckia, celosia and snapdragons
A large garden pot filled with white sweet alyssum and pink flowers of gomphrena, surrounded by lush green and variegated yellow hosta plants in a vibrant garden setting.

Companion Planting for Hostas: Your Guide to Pest-Free, Beautiful Shade Gardens

Tired of slugs and deer ruining your hostas? Learn the secrets of companion planting for hostas to keep pests away and create a gorgeous, low-maintenance shade garden. Hostas, with their lush foliage and elegant blooms, are staples of the shade garden. But did you know that choosing the right companion plants can make your hostas…
Read More Companion Planting for Hostas: Your Guide to Pest-Free, Beautiful Shade Gardens

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Close up of snapdragons in the flower garden

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

Want to learn more about me? I’m a master gardener who’s been gardening and growing things for over 25 years and author of the best-selling book, The Bricks ‘n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden. Get the inside scoop about my background as a master gardener, education, and experience, as well as why I started blogging here.

stacy ling cutting dahlias in her garden
Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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4 Comments

  1. You have a beautiful garden. Great article on gardening mistakes. Sad to say, I’ve made quite a few of them!

  2. For the first time, something is eating my zinnias and alliums. I don’t see rabbits around here so not sure what it is. They eat the flower of the zinnias and the stalk of the alliums. Think I will try cayenne pepper, any suggestions?
    Your garden is so beautiful and thank you for the heads up on what you should never plant. Also, on the list should be roadside daylillies. You can’t get rid of them. And, gooseneck loosestrife. I planted it at my previous home and I’m sure it has taken over the neighborhood. Bad decision on my part.
    You are educating me and I thank you.