Plants With Flowers & Spikes

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Plants With Flowers & Spikes
Plants with flowering spikes lend colour and dimension to a garden. (Butterfly on Larkspur image by Boster from Fotolia.com)

Plants can lend a sense of life, colour and interest to any garden setting. This is especially true of plants with flowers and spikes. The flowers of such plants come in a variety of vibrant hues and shapes, while the spikes are often dynamic, eye-catching, and add height and dimension to the garden.

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Definition of Flowering Spikes

Flowering spikes are a type of inflorescence, or group of flowers. Plants of this type feature elongated stalks, or spikes, that are covered partially or entirely with stemless flowers. Each flower develops on the central stalk to which it is attached.

Types of Perennial Plants with Flowers and Spikes

Perennial plants grow back on their own year after year. These plants can continue to add shape, colour and fragrance to your garden from one growing season to the next with little effort on your part. Perennial plants with flowers and spikes include: delphinium, which comes in shades of blue, purple, white and pink, and grows up to 6 feet in height; penstemon, which comes in an assortment of colours, excluding yellow and orange, and grows between 2 and 3 feet tall; astilbe, which produces spikes with white, pink, rose or red flowers, and grows between 2 and 3 feet tall; and physostegia, which comes in shades of white, lavender and rose, and grows to about 3 feet in height.

Types of Annual Plants with Flowers and Spikes

Annual plants typically last for one growing season and do not grow back the following year. You can replace annuals each year, choosing new colours and types of plants to suit your taste. Annual plants that feature flowers and spikes include: hollyhock, which grows up to 5 feet tall and comes in virtually every colour but blue; larkspur, which comes in shades of pink, blue, purple and white, and grows between 3 and 4 feet tall; snapdragon, which comes in numerous colours and grows between 1 and 4 feet tall; and scarlet sage, which produces fiery red flowers on spikes that grow between 1 and 3 feet in height.

Selecting Plants with Flowers and Spikes

There are several factors to consider when selecting plants with flowers and spikes. You must decide whether you prefer perennials or annuals. Such a decision will help to narrow your choices. Determine where in your garden you will place the plants. Is it a sunny or a shady location? Choose plants that are well-suited to the amount of sunlight that spot receives each day. Consider your preferences in terms of colour, size and scent. For example, you may know that you desire plants with flowering spikes that are tall, pink and have no fragrance. Finally, know which zone you live in. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has divided the nation into zones according to climate. When you know your zone, you can select plants with flowers and spikes that have been bred to thrive in your zone.

Caring for Plants with Flowers and Spikes

Like virtually all plants and flowers, plants with flowers and spikes require nutritious soil, fresh water and, in most cases, sunlight. Different plants have different care requirements. Read the tags that come with your plants to find out more about properly caring for them, or conduct research on the specific plants. To encourage your plants to produce an abundance of colourful flowers on their spikes, consider fertilising them. Choose a fertiliser designed for flowering plants, and follow the instructions on its label to determine how and when to apply it. In the off season months when the plants stop blooming and turn brown, cut their spikes down if they are perennials, and dig them up to make room for next year's plants if they are annuals.

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