Growing plants from seeds is not only easy to do but is also one of the cheapest ways to fill your garden with abundance. Some people may only think of growing vegetables from seeds, but flowers are just as easy to plant. As a bonus, you’ll have a greater choice of variety and color if you’re willing to start your own varietals from seeds rather than just buy what’s already being grown and sold at nurseries at the start of the season.
Perennial flowers may not bloom their first year, but if you have the patience to wait, you can fill your garden for a fraction of the cost of buying mature plants. Annual flowers will bloom right on schedule, and many of them will even seed themselves, so you’ll only have to plant them once to receive years of beautiful blooms. If you’ve been dreaming of nonstop color, pick up some seed packets, and get started with the tips below.
Growing Annual Flowers From Seed
Annual flowers are the backbone of billowy cottage gardens. Many annuals will seed themselves, so all you have to do is leave the flower heads on the plants at the end of the season. They will eventually drop seed, and the seeds will weave themselves throughout the garden with a little help from the wind. You may sometimes end up with too many seedlings in one spot, but they should be easy to pull or transplant.
Keep in mind, annual flowers tend to grow quickly, so even those you direct sow outdoors in the spring will flower at their usual bloom time or very soon afterward. Just about any of the annuals that self-sow are good candidates for starting from seed, either indoors or direct sown.
Growing Perennial Flowers From Seed
Most perennial plants don’t bloom until their second year, spending their first season growing a strong root system and lots of leaves for photosynthesis. You can sometimes get around this waiting period by starting your perennial seeds in the fall and fooling the plants into thinking the following spring is “year two,” but more often than not you’ll just have to be patient.
After your perennial flowers are established, they will begin blooming and grow larger every year. In a few years’ time, you’ll be able to make even more plants by dividing the ones you have.
How to Speed Up Seed Starting
Not all seeds know it’s time to sprout just because they’re planted in soil. Some need a signal that it’s time to germinate, either from a change in temperature or moisture levels, or an increase in light. To trick your seeds into germinating sooner than they might typically, you can use one of the below methods:
Winter sowing: To sow your seeds in the winter, you’ll want to start them outdoors while the temperatures are still frigid. Not all seeds can survive freezing temperatures, but there are some that need the freezing and thawing action to break dormancy or to crack their hard coverings, including heartier vegetables like broccoli, beets, and carrots.
Scarification: Seeds with really tough or thick coverings (think: apples, nasturtium, and false indigo) can take forever to germinate. Scarification (nicking them or rubbing them with sandpaper) can help give them a jump start and speed up the process a bit.
Stratification: Stratification is a way to simulate the warming and cooling conditions seeds would be privy to if left in their natural environment through the winter. It’s especially useful for people in zones that don’t have a long enough (or cold enough) winter for their desired plant, as well as any gardener looking to harvest delicate perennials like delphinium and violets, which will germinate more seeds if they’re put through the process.
These are some tips on planting flower seeds in pots.