All-American Garden

Garden designer Troy Rhone shows how to showcase your patriotic spirit with a red, white, and blue flower garden, and shares tips for planting a flower bed.
red white and blue flower garden
Bands of red, white, and blue petunias fill a flower bed. Garden designer Troy Rhone shares plant selections for a red white and blue flower garden, and tips for planting a flower bed. Photo by Alexey Belyaev/Shutterstock

As gardeners, one way we can show our patriotism is by planting an American garden. I have done this at my home. My annual and perennial beds triumph fully and proudly display the colors of red, white, and blue. How the colors blend in beautifully with the American flag that adorns the front of my house. With a little planning and effort, you can achieve the same effect with the flowers of your choice.

red white and blue flower garden
Red flowers of pentas. Photo by Jim Persons

Preparing Flower Bed Soil

1 | Create good drainage. Almost all plant roots need good drainage. If your soil has poor drainage, amend 50 percent of your soil with a soil conditioner. You can also add in material that will aid in drainage such as a ceramic material like PermaTill, which will keep soil particles from sticking together and thus thwarting proper drainage.

2| Mix Up This Secret Formula. Soil nutrition is the second key ingredient to a successful planting. It is important that you give your bed both macro and micronutrients. After preparing my beds with soil conditioner and PermaTill, I mix up my secret formula that I till into my bed. (I guess it won’t be a secret anymore because I am going to share it with you!) First, I fill about half a 5-gallon bucket with soil conditioner. Next I add a cup of Flower-tone, Start-N-Grow, and a slow-release fertilizer. I mix this all up and then moderately spread it across the flowerbed. Finally I till or rake the secret ingredients into the bed.

red white and blue flower garden
White hollyhocks. Photo by Jolly Roberts

Planting a Flower Bed

Now, it’s time to plant the flowers. I always plant the root ball of the flower about half an inch above the ground. This is because I want to leave room for mulch (mini-nuggets of pine bark, in my case) without covering too much of the root ball which would cause it to be planted to deep. The mulch I use is about two inches, or less, in diameter making it the perfect size as the flowers can be damaged by something larger. Once I finish my mulching, I water with a water-solubule fertilizer.

The third key ingredient for your flowers to thrive is ongoing fertility. If you live in an area that gets lots of rain or has a very sandy soil where you have to use irrigation often, you are going to have to feed your flowers more frequently. I use a low-potassium granular fertilizer once a month and a water-soluble fertilizer every 10 days, assuming that my flowers are getting about an inch of rain per week during the spring and summer months.

Again, I would adjust the fertility if the flowers get more or less water. During rainy times, I’ll concentrate on a fast-release granular fertilizer rather than a water-soluble fertilizer applied every 10 days. Don’t add more moisture to an already saturated root system. If you want to stay away from chemicals, just top dress with a soil conditioner, which is full of nutrients to feed your flowers.

To plant a traditional flowerbed, arrange the tallest plants in the back of the bed and work your way down to the shortest at the front of the bed. If you want the bed to “roll” like a flag, plant various plant groupings of differing heights along the back of the bed. I recommend that your bed be at least four to five feet deep to leave enough room for all of your plants to grow.

red white and blue flower garden
‘Baby Blue Eyes’ (Nemophila menziesii). Photo by Gabriel de Urioste

Plants for a Red White and Blue Flower Garden


  • Tall: Crocosmia, Cardinal Flower, Knock Out Rose
  • Medium: Annual Salvia, Penta
  • Short: Zinnia, Petunia


  • Tall: Butterfly Bush, Fairy Rose, Peony, Hollyhock
  • Medium: Balloon Flower
  • Short: Fan Flower, Verbena


  • Tall: Salvia ‘Victoria Blue,’ Agapanthus ‘Buddy Blue’
  • Medium: Turinia, Evolvulus pilosus ‘Blue Daze’
  • Short: Nemophila menziesii ‘Baby Blue Eyes,’ Blue Star Creeper

Whichever flowers you choose to plant in your All-American garden, one thing is certain: the results will be beautiful.

By Troy Rhone

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