You saw a flower in a garden or magazine that you can’t live without, but you’re not sure what it is. Don’t worry. The Internet has hundreds of excellent flower identification sites. Books, gardening experts and even your university cooperative extension are also good choices for identifying the names of obscure flowers.
Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to obtain a sample of the flower (ask first) or take detailed photos of it. Take note of the size of the plant and where it is growing. Since many flower identification sites list thousands of flowers, it’s helpful to consider other distinguishing characteristics in addition to the blooms. Ask yourself the following questions: Does the flower grow in full sun or shade? What is the soil like? How many petals do the flowers have and what shape are they? What shape and color are the leaves? All these questions can help you discover the plant’s identity. Below are some resources to help you get started on your quest:
- Fine Gardening Mystery Plant Forum: Post a photo of the flower in question on this site and you’ll get feedback from gardeners around the country.
- Fine Gardening Plant Guide: Here you’ll find descriptions and photos of thousands of flowers and plants.
- Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia: A simple-to-use search device with thousands of plants.
- Sunset Magazine Plant Finder: Click the boxes that describe your plant and you’re off and running. Sunset Magazine emphasizes plants grown in the west.
- National Gardening Association Plant Finder: One of the most complete plant databases you’ll find on the web, as well as access to tons of gardening information.
- Colorado State University Extension Colorado Plant Database: Look here for native Rocky Mountain plants, as well as plants that thrive in Colorado and nearby states.
- Washington State University Northwest Plants Database System: This site allows you to select specific criteria to find the plant in question. Detailed information about each plant.
- Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder: a good source of information on plants that grow in the Midwest.
- Oregon State University Landscape Plants: Look here for information on plants that grow well in the Pacific Northwest.
- University of Minnesota Plant Database: Comprehensive database on plants of the upper Midwest.
- Garden Web Garden Forums: The Garden Web offers all kinds of help, from forums to expert FAQs.
Catalogs are a great source of information. The best ones offer thorough descriptions and photos of each plant.
- Arnold’s Greenhouse Plant Wishbook; Arnold’s features hundreds of plants, from annuals to shrubs.
- Bluestone Perennial Catalog; This company has been around for years and sells hundreds of perennials.
- Burpee’s Seed Catalog
- Rocky Mountain Plant Guide; Sold at nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region, this catalog offers detailed information and photos on hundreds of flowers, shrubs and trees.
Visit your library, nursery or bookstore for gardening books that feature plant photos and descriptions.
- Armitage’s Garden Perennials; Check this book for rare and unusual perennials.
- The Complete Garden Flower Book: Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, Shrubs and Climbers, by Catie Ziller and Robert Oerton, 2001. This book offers descriptions, photos and practical growing advice for thousands of plants. You’ll use it over and over in your garden.
- Encyclopedia of Perennials, American Horticultural Society, 2006. A comprehensive guide to every perennial you’ve ever wondered about.
- Perennials: The Gardener’s Reference, by Susan Carter, et al. Lovely photos and illustrations make this a reference guide you’ll reach for time and again.
Sometimes you’ll find the best help right in your own backyard. Your first stop should be a reputable nursery. Talk to gardening experts there and you just might have your answer in minutes. Most cities and even some smaller towns have gardening clubs. Contact your local gardening club for access to gardening experts. Another resource is your local cooperative extension. A cooperative extension operates in conjunction with the agricultural and horticultural departments of your state universities. Here you’ll find access to garden enthusiasts who are experts on plants in your region.
Floramity: National Directory of Garden Clubs