Would you like to grow flowers from seed, but need a little help getting started? This guide to twelve easy flowers to grow from seed has got you covered.
Why grow flowers from seed?
Growing flowers from seed is a great idea for a number of reasons.
For starters, it’s much cheaper than buying plants. A packet of flower seeds allows you to grow a large quantity of plants for a small initial investment. When you buy a plant that’s already established, you’re paying for the materials, time, space and care that have gone into growing it. Grow your plants from seed, and you can provide all of these resources yourself, which is why seeds are a more cost-effective way to fill your garden with flowers.
Growing flowers from seed is good from a sustainability viewpoint too. You avoid all the overheads that growing and transporting plants consumes, and you can re-use your plant pots and equipment many times.
It’s also easier than you might think to grow flowers from seed. You only need a few basic supplies to make it a success (more about those later), and if you choose flowers that are easy to grow from seed it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or fiddly. The biggest challenge you’ll face is not getting carried away and planting more seeds than you have space for!
Finally, growing your own flowers from seed is fun, and seeing those little seedlings thrive is hugely rewarding. For this reason it’s a brilliant gardening project to get kids involved with.
When is the best time to plant flower seeds?
The answer to this question really depends on the type of seeds you’re growing, and the conditions in your garden. Always check the information on the seed packet. This will include the best months to plant the seeds, and tips for caring for the plants as they grow.
If you’re planting your seeds outdoors, as a general rule you need to wait until spring, when the chance of frost has gone and the weather is warming up.
If you’d like to get a head start on the seed planting, you can plant your flower seeds indoors. You will need to provide a warm, bright location for your pots. Not enough heat will mean your seeds don’t germinate, and not enough light will make them grow spindly, weak stems. A sunny windowsill is ideal. You can also buy small heated propagators that work well, but remember you will still need to position these somewhere that receives plenty of light.
Is it too late to grow flowers from seed?
If you’re thinking “Is it too late to plant seeds?”, you need to do a quick calculation.
Your seed packet will probably have a little calendar on the back that shows you when the plants will flower. You can work back from this to see if you’ve still got time to plant them.
Spring is the ideal time to grow lots of varieties of flowers from seed, but if you’re a bit late with your sowing you can always give it a try in early summer. Just bear in mind that your plants will flower later, and also that they may not thrive as well due to the shorter days and risk of colder temperatures in autumn.
The difference between annual and perennial garden flowers
If you’re new to growing flowers from seed, it’s worth understanding a bit about annual flowers vs. perennial flowers.
Annual plants grow, flower and die in one growing season or year. As a general rule, you will need to replace these plants with new ones each year if you want to have them in your garden long-term.
Lots of annual plants will produce and scatter seeds once they have finished flowering. This means that although they only last for one season, you can leave them to do the job of replacing themselves for you.
Perennial plants will grow year after year, so you don’t have to replace them regularly. They may die back in winter and grow again in spring, or be evergreen.
Most of the flowers on this list are annuals, but lots of them will self-seed. This makes them ideal for low-maintenance gardening.
What are the easiest flowers to grow from seed?
Some flowers are much easier to grow from seed than others. If you’re new to flower gardening, or just haven’t grown from seed before, it makes sense to start with easy to grow flowers that don’t require much in the way of special equipment.
Flower gardening for beginners: 12 easy flowers to grow from seed
Here are twelve easy flowers that you can grow from seed to create a beautiful, hassle-free display in your garden.
If it’s showstopping blooms you’re after, it’s hard to beat sunflowers.
As well as looking amazing, sunflowers are a fantastic source of food for pollinating insects and birds. There’s a wide variety of sunflower seeds to choose from, which means you can easily find the perfect colour and size for your garden. Sunflowers are a brilliant option to grow with kids too.
You can plant sunflower seeds directly into the soil where you want them to grow, or start seeds off in pots and plant them out once they are established. As their name suggests, sunflowers are happiest growing in a sunny location. This means they can dry out quickly, so you may need to water them regularly. You will probably also need to provide the growing plants with support from garden canes, as some varieties can reach over 1.5 metres tall.
Check out my post on growing sunflowers for more advice on planting, care and good varieties to grow.
With it’s abundance of easy-access flowers, cosmos is another great plant for pollinators. As well as lovely flowers, it also has really pretty, frondy foliage that you can snip and add to your indoor vases.
Cosmos plants will produce more flowers if you keep cutting them. It’s also very likely that they will seed themselves wherever you plant them, so you’ll probably find lots of new plants popping up next spring for absolutely zero effort.
Nigella, or love-in-a-mist, is one of the easiest annuals to grow from seed. Simply scatter the seeds on a patch of soil – somewhere in full sun is ideal – and leave them to do their thing.
It’s a good idea to sow nigella seeds a few times throughout spring, as this will give you flowers for a longer period of time. Once the flowers are finished, the seedheads can be dried out and used in flower arrangements.
Like cosmos, nigella loves to self-seed, making it a truly low-maintenance plant that’s also very thrifty.
Zinnias are ideal for giving your garden bags of colour, and they’re adored by bees. I use them to fill gaps in garden beds, and find that once they start flowering they keep going right into autumn.
You can start off zinnia seeds in pots and plant them out later, or sow the seeds directly into their final position. Zinnias enjoy a sunny, sheltered location; you can grow them in partial shade but they will most likely produce less flowers.
A great option if you’d like to grow a climbing plant, sweet peas don’t need lots of space and will be happy in a sunny container or border. There’s a huge range of varieties to choose from, including an everlasting variety that will grow year after year.
Mice adore sweet pea seeds and seedlings, so if you’re planting them directly into the garden you might need to give them some protection at first. As they grow, the plants need support; a trellis, a wigwam of garden canes, or an archway all work well.
Sweet peas make lovely cut flowers. Once they start to flower, cutting them regularly will encourage more flowers to grow and give you a supply of beautifully-scented blooms to enjoy indoors right through summer.
Another brilliant option for a climber, morning glory is named after its lovely flowers which open first thing in the morning. It’s one of the more fast-growing flowers from seed, so if you have a bare fence, trellis or arch that you’d like to cover quickly, this is the one to go for.
Nasturtiums are great multi-taskers. They’re easy plants to grow from seeds, they’re happy in poor soil, they will trail or scramble across the ground, and as well as looking fantastic the flowers are edible. All of this makes them a great flower for introducing children to gardening.
Nasturtiums are ideal for containers and hanging baskets, or you can plant them in the ground where they will provide ground cover and help to suppress weeds. They like to grow in full sun, and the seeds can be sown directly into the soil once the last frost has passed.
If you’d like to fill the less sunny areas of your garden with flowers, aquilegias are a good option. They will be happy in full sun, but are also perfectly fine in semi-shade.
Aquilegias are tough little plants, and because they’re perennials they will usually come back year after year. They also self-seed very enthusiastically; I planted three in my garden and within a couple of years there were plants everywhere! It’s not hard to dig these up if you’d prefer to keep them under control though.
Marigold seeds grow quickly, which makes them ideal for impatient young gardeners. The seeds can germinate in as little as four days, and you’ll have flowers about two months later.
You can sow marigold seeds directly into their final position in the garden or in pots, once any chance of frost has gone. They like full sun, and there are lots of different varieties to choose from, including ones suited to containers.
If you like bold colours in the garden, cornflowers are perfect. They have delicate, bright blue flowers and grow up to 90cm tall, so they’re great plants for adding a bit of height to your borders. Cornflowers make good cut flowers too.
Cornflowers grow best in full sun, and will keep producing flowers if you remove the old ones regularly. They’re an excellent plant for wildlife gardening and are popular with birds, bees and pollinating insects.
If you always forget to water your plants, or just don’t have time to do it regularly, grow californian poppies.
As well as being able to cope with dry conditions, californian poppies will be fine in poor soil, making them truly low-maintenance flowers to grow from seed. Scatter the seeds where you’d like them to grow, and they will create a sea of bright colour in even the trickiest parts of your garden.
One of the easiest ways to get an instant flower garden is to buy a packet of mixed wildflower seeds. Wildflowers are fantastic for wildlife, providing food and shelter for pollinating insects, wild birds and bats. In addition, they’re fast-growing, low-maintenance, help to control weeds, and look fabulous.
You can grow wildflowers in a garden bed or a container. Mixed seed packets will create a very natural planting effect. Choose a sunny spot, scatter your seeds onto the soil, lightly rake or press them in, and water the area. Once this is done, you literally sit back and let nature work it’s magic – they really are completely low-maintenance flowers to grow.
Because they’re so easy, wildflowers are perfect for children to grow. My post on growing wildflowers with kids covers this in more detail.
The best tools for growing flowers from seed
So you’ve got your flower seeds, but what else do you need to grow them successfully?
The good news is that you really don’t need much in the way of equipment to grow flowers from seed. A few basic seed starting tools such as plant pots, compost, a trowel and labels will make the job quicker and easier. Don’t be put off if you haven’t got all of these garden tools though, because it’s perfectly possible to improvise with other things you probably have at home.
For more details on seed planting tools, and suggestions for how to improvise with what you’ve got, head over to this post.
Can I save seeds from my plants for next year?
Absolutely. Saving seeds is a brilliant way to grow lots of lovely plants for free, and it’s so easy to do.
You will need to wait until autumn, when your flowers have died and produced seed heads. I’ve got a step-by-step guide to harvesting and saving seeds here.
More gardening for beginners advice
If you’ve got the gardening bug and would like some more ideas for easy projects and general gardening tips, take a look at these posts.
And finally, a few flower quotes to inspire you!
I hope this list of easy flowers to grow from seed helps you get out there and have a go at flower gardening and growing your own beautiful blooms. What’s on your list of flowers to plant this year?