Buying flowers for a garden can feel like a lot of guesswork.
Especially when you live in the gotta-have-some-moxie, semi-arid West!
This isn’t a place where you a dig a few holes, plop in some flowers and watch them grow into a lush jungle.
Nope, our growing conditions can be tough on plants (and on our water supply), so we need to be smart in the flowers we choose.
Let’s say you’d like a beautiful western garden, but you want to skip the hassle of figuring out flowers.
You may want to explore pre-planned flower gardens instead.
They’re also known as gardens in a box.
Yep, they’re a thing!
In this article, you’ll get the scoop on:
- What a pre-planned flower garden is
- Why they can make creating a western flower garden much easier
- Beautiful examples of pre-planned gardens for the West
- 3 important tips for your pre-planned flower garden
I’ve shared the links in this article to save you time. They are not affiliate links, and I am not sponsored by any of the businesses mentioned.
What is a pre-planned flower garden?
Typically, a pre-planned flower garden is a collection of beautiful flowers for a specific theme, like:
- Drought-tolerant flowers for a sunny spot in your yard
- Heat-loving flowers for tough, hot spots in your yard
- Colorful plants for shade, or
- Even butterfly and hummingbird gardens
You receive the flowers and a suggested garden design, or you get flower seeds and guidelines on how to plant them. Then, you get the satisfaction of planting the flowers and enjoying the gorgeous results.
But you don’t have to research which flowers grow well together or do any flower shopping.
You get the beauty without the headaches.
It’s like a dinner meal kit that’s delivered to your home. You receive a chef-inspired recipe and fresh ingredients, so you can focus on the joy of cooking and enjoying every bite. But you don’t have to waste your time on meal planning or grocery shopping.
Pre-planned flower gardens usually work the same way.
Here are just a few perks of pre-planned gardens:
- You’ll enjoy a professionally-designed garden without the expense of a landscaper.
- Your flowers will look beautiful together. Your neighbors will wonder how you did it!
- You’ll often get color all season because the flowers have been specially selected to bloom at different times.
- You should have a happy garden for MANY years to come because your flowers prefer similar growing conditions, like how much sunlight and water they need.
- You’ll likely lower your water bill and do some good for Mama Nature if you pick a garden with drought-tolerant flowers.
- You can skip the trial and error and the wasted money that comes with guessing which flowers to plant and hoping they’ll grow here. (Fewer dead plants!)
It’s worth noting that pre-planned gardens are often a collection of perennials — the flowers that come back every year. But you can get some pre-planned flower gardens for annuals too (the one-season-only flowers). Depending on what you order, you may start out with young plants or seeds.
Here are a few pre-planned flower gardens to get you started:
Gardens in a Box from Resource Central
Sometimes, you can get lucky and find local options.
For example, the city of Fort Collins, Colorado has teamed up with its local water agency to offer “Gardens in a Box.”
These beautiful, pre-planned flower gardens were created with our semi-arid climate and tricky growing conditions in mind.
You can choose from a variety of “waterwise flower gardens” — like native flowers (meaning these flowers are from our region), colorful shade flowers, flowers for mountain gardens, etc.
Gardens in a Box are available for planting in the spring or fall.
They’re popular and do sell out, so if you’re interested, sign up early. If they’re sold out, you can request to be notified when they have their pre-planned gardens ready for the next season.
With Gardens in a Box, you need to live within driving distance of Fort Collins, so you can pick up the young plants.
They aren’t delivered to you.
But if you live someplace else, no worries!
I’ve got online options for you below. It’s also worth checking with your city or local water agency to see if they offer something similar.
Seed mixes from Botanical Interests
Botanical Interests is an online seed company, and they happen to be based in Colorado. They offer a range of flower seed mixes with beautiful flowers.
In their mixes, you often can get both annuals (the one-summer-only flowers) and perennials (the flowers that return every year). And yes, they have a waterwise garden mix too, as can see below.
Growing flowers from seeds has its perks:
- One, it’s rewarding to see your plant babies come up from the ground.
- Two, it’s economical. You don’t need fancy indoor growing equipment for these mixes. You just spread the seeds directly in the ground. (Don’t worry, the seed packets come with instructions!)
Depending on the flowers you’re growing, you may plant your seeds in the spring, fall or late winter.
If Botanical Interests is sold out of the seed mix you want, you can sign up to get an email when the seeds become available.
You also can find their seeds at local, independent garden centers.
I’m growing their “Save the Bees” flower mix this summer (pictured below). Stay tuned! I hope to share photos later this summer.
Pre-planned flower gardens from High Country Gardens
High Country Gardens has beautiful, pre-planned gardens too, many of which have been created with our tough, western growing conditions in mind.
Founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico, High Country Gardens specializes in native and waterwise plants.
They’re a great source for flower plants if you want to create a sustainable, low-water landscape. They also carry a lot of unique plants that you can’t find at local garden centers.
You can order their pre-planned flower gardens for delivery in the spring or in the fall.
They often sell out, so don’t wait until the last minute to order.
3 important tips for your pre-planned flower garden:
#1) Make sure you’re picking a pre-planned garden that works well for where you live.
For example, a pre-planned garden with flowers that thrive on the East Coast (where they have fertile soils and lots of moisture) may not be the best fit for your it-hasn’t-rained-in-2-months western garden, right?
If you’re ever in doubt, you can always chat with the company you’re buying from.
Typically, they’re happy to help.
#2) It may take a few years for your flower garden to reach its full glory. This is normal!
Perennials (the flowers that return every year) can take up to 3 years to reach their full size.
I mention this because it’s natural to plant a pre-planned flower garden and think, “This doesn’t look ANYTHING like the photos.”
Trust the process.
Your plants will grow, but it can take a year (or two) for your plants to get established.
Resist the urge to plant your flowers closer than is suggested. 🙂 This will create more work for you later.
You’ll have a beautiful flower garden before you know it.
3) Even if you’re planting drought-tolerant flowers, they’ll need to be well watered the first year.
Drought-tolerant flowers aren’t instantly ready for our semi-arid conditions.
They often need consistent watering during the first season until their roots are fully established.
You can get the scoop on how much to water your pre-planned garden from the organization you buy it from. It can vary by plant.
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