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Guide to Gardening in Detroit, Michigan

Easy-Care Solutions for Beginners


Guest Author: Nancy Jones

Gardening in Detroit, Michigan can be a challenge because of our crazy climate and temperature extremes, but once you get some basics down, it's pretty easy. Read "the rules" first and then pick a few plants that are well suited to the Metro-Detroit area. All plants listed are geared toward easy-care, so no fussing allowed! And one more thing: DON'T BE AFRAID TO FAIL! If you haven't killed a few plants, you aren't really gardening. Try the plant in a different place next time or find a different plant.

Without further ado, here is your guide to gardening in Detroit, Michigan:

Rules for Gardening in Michigan

Flowers in Downtown Detroit
Photo © Howard E.
A few hard and fast rules for gardening in Southeast Michigan, including tips on and information about climate zones, soil and flower-bed size.


Photo © Laura Sternberg, Licensed to About.com
Bulbs are planted in spring or fall, and the plant grows every year thereafter.

Easy-Care Annuals

Picture of a Moonflower taken in a Vicksburg, Michigan Backyard
Photo © Dawn Ulmer
These plants live only till the first frost and then die. Their life cycle (in Michigan) is spring through fall. Since they have color the entire season, a good garden will usually have some annuals mixed in to brighten it up when no perennials are in bloom.

Perennials for Shady Flower Beds

Photo © Laura Sternberg, Licensed to About.com
Perennial plants generally return every year because their roots remain alive under the soil through the winter.

Full-Sun Perennials

Picture of Queen of the Prairie
Photo © Karon Miller
Perennial plants should be the backbone of an easy-care garden. Generally speaking, perennials are in bloom for 2-4 weeks in Michigan.

Summer/Fall Flowering Plants

Photo © Bruce Vanderveen (August, 2007)

Michigan is all about experiencing the seasons. To insure a little color in late summer and early fall, be sure to include a tree, shrub, climber and/or groundcover from the list of summer and fall flowering plants for Michigan gardens.

Public Gardens in the Metro-Detroit Area

One of many display gardens at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Photo © Laura Sternberg, Licensed to About.com

If you're looking for some ideas for your Michigan garden, visit one or more of the public and botanical gardens in the Metro-Detroit area. Each garden/landscape makes good use of plants -- native and otherwise -- that work in our state's variable climate. 

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