14 Best Flowers to Grow From Seed

various colors of zinnias

The Spruce / Erin Huffstetler

Do you want to enjoy a beautiful flower garden without spending a ton of money? You can save money by buying more flower seeds and fewer plants. Annual flowers started from seed should bloom during their growing season, and some might even self-seed as bonus plants for the next year. Perennial flowers grown from seed might not bloom during their first growing season but will have a head start on prolific blooms in their second year. Here are 14 flowers that are among the easiest to grow from seed.

Tip

Whether you save seed, participate in a seed-swap with other gardeners, or purchase seeds from a reputable source like Ferry-Morse, growing flowers from seed gives you a wider variety of plants than what's available at your local garden center. Start reading seed catalogs online in January to find the best options to grow in your area.

  1. Bachelor's Button (Centaurea cyanus)

    These blue flowers look like miniature carnations and tend to attract butterflies. Sow the seeds directly in your garden bed after the final frost of spring. Or you can start them roughly six to eight weeks before your projected last frost date, and then transplant the seedlings into your garden once the weather warms. They will flower from mid-summer until the first frost of fall and require very little care from you besides watering during prolonged dry spells. Collect the brown seed pods at the end of the season to plant in your garden the next year.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Blue
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Blue cornflowers next to white daisies in garden

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

  2. Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

    These blooms are typically a bright yellow to deep orange color, and they make a nice container plant or an edging plant in the garden. Directly sow the seeds in your garden after the last frost, or start them indoors six to eight weeks prior to the last frost date. They will self-seed from season to season. If you live in a hot climate, give your plants some afternoon sun protection, and keep the soil moderately moist. Also, remove spent flowers to encourage further blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Yellow to orange
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    calendula growing

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

  3. Columbine (Aquilegia)

    The showy flowers of these spring-and early summer-blooming perennials come in many colors. Allow them to self-seed and they'll come back year after year with minimal maintenance from you. Columbine can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, but make sure your plant isn't sitting in poorly drained soil. Also, if you remove the stems after they're finished flowering, you can prolong the plant's blooming period.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3b to 8b
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, red, pink, yellow, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Columbine plant with blue-purple flowers on thin red stems

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

  4. Cosmos (Cosmos)

    Cosmos make good cut flowers for bouquets, and they bloom all summer long. They're annuals but typically will self-seed. They'll even tolerate poor soil, so they're truly low-fuss flowers. Sow them after the final frost in the spring, or start them indoors six to eight weeks prior to your last frost. Plant them in a location that's sheltered from strong, damaging winds, and remove the spent blooms for prolonged flowering. However, make sure you leave some of the flower heads if you want the plant to self-seed.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Pink cosmos flowers with yellow centers in field with wild flowers closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

  5. Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

    These flowers grow as perennials in warm climates but can work as annuals elsewhere. Make sure the threat of frost is behind you before directly sowing them in your garden, or start them indoors. The flowers open in the afternoon, hence their name, and they have a lovely fragrance. They bloom from mid-summer to fall and are fairly low-maintenance beyond preferring consistently moist soil. So be sure to water your flowers during dry stretches.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 9b to 10a
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, yellow, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, well-draining
    Four o' clock plant

    The Spruce / Autumn Wood

  6. Marigolds (Tagetes)

    You'll have to plant marigold seeds each year because they're annuals. But they'll bloom all summer if you keep them deadheaded. Save some of the seeds at the end of the season, and use them to replant the next year. Flowering might diminish during the hottest part of the summer, but it should pick up again toward the fall. If you live in a hot climate, give your plants some afternoon shade, and keep the soil evenly moist.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, orange, gold, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    Marigold flowers with red and yellow colored petals in garden closeup

    The Spruce / Pheobe Cheong

  7. Morning Glories (Ipomoea purpurea)

    This vine grown on trellises or arbors is an annual. When started from seed, it can take until the end of summer to bloom. However, if you start the seeds indoors about six weeks before your projected last frost date, they'll start blooming earlier in the growing season than if you directly sow them in your garden. Once the plant is established in your garden, it will self-seed and come back on its own year after year. Water your plant around once a week to ensure even moisture, and use a low-nitrogen fertilizer monthly or as needed during the growing season.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Blue, purple, pink, red, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, well-draining
    Morning glory plant with deep purple trumpet-shaped flowers with pink centers

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

  8. Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)

    These flowers make a good ground cover for a spot that gets a lot of sun. They are highly tolerant of drought and require little maintenance. They’re even deer-resistant and typically don’t have pest or disease problems as long as their soil has good drainage. Sow your seeds directly in the garden after your last frost, or start them indoors. Expect blooms starting in the summer and lasting until frost arrives in the fall. You can deadhead the flowers to encourage further blooming, or leave some of the spent blooms to promote self-seeding.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Red, pink, yellow, orange, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Poor to average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
    Moss rose flowers with yellow, pink and red colored petals in garden

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  9. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum)

    You can be nasty to nasturtiums, and these hardy flowers will tolerate your neglect. The leaves and flowers are edible and often added to salads. But they're perhaps more popular as a cut flower because of their lovely fragrance and beautiful colors. Nasturtiums can tolerate poor and dry soil, though you should water them during extended dry spells. And protect them from the afternoon sun in hot climates. Plus, skip the fertilizer, as too much richness in the soil can actually inhibit blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Red, orange, yellow, cream
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, slightly acidic, medium moisture, well-draining
    Red nasturtium flowers in between large green leaves

    The Spruce / K. Dave

  10. Shasta Daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum)

    These are perennials in some climates with a long blooming period from around July to September. They're good for flower borders, as well as for use as cut flowers. Plus, they're efficient at spreading, so you don't have to plant many seeds to establish a large garden bed. Make sure you have good soil drainage, as soggy soil can be fatal. And remove the spent flower heads to encourage further blooming. Plus, after flowering is complete for the season, cut back the stems to their lowest leaves to conserve the plant’s energy over the winter.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 4a to 9a
    • Color Varieties: White with a yellow center
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, dry to medium moisture, well-draining
    Shasta daisy with white flowers and yellow centers growing in rows

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  11. Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

    Sunflowers don't start blooming until late in the season, usually from around July to August. But when those giant blooms finally emerge, it's well worth the wait. Plant the seeds directly in your garden after your final frost, ideally in a location that’s protected from strong winds. Seeds started indoors will typically flower at roughly the same time as seeds directly sown in the garden, so there’s really no benefit to starting them early. Sunflowers are annuals, so you'll need to save some of the seeds to replant the next year. Cover a few of the seed heads with netting, so they can dry out without the birds feasting on them.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 11b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Yellow, red, brown
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Average, moist, well-draining
    Giant sunflower head closeup

    The Spruce / K. Dave

  12. Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)

    These flowers have a lovely sweet fragrance and bloom from around April to June. You can sow the seeds directly in your garden a few weeks before your final frost date, or start them indoors roughly six weeks before your projected last frost. The plants will decline in the summer heat, during which you can cut them back by about half. This might promote additional blooming in the fall. Or you can sow more seeds in August for fall-blooming plants.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5a to 9a
    • Color Varieties: White
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
    • Soil Needs: Average, medium moisture, well-draining
    sweet alyssum

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

  13. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)

    These annuals are climbers and make nice cut flowers. They do best in cool soil and will decline in hot, humid summers. Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks prior to your final frost date to maximize the plant’s blooming period before the hot weather takes hold. Keep the soil evenly moist via rainfall and supplemental watering. And add compost or fertilizer during the growing season, especially if you have poor soil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 2a to 10b (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Blue, red, pink, purple, peach, burgundy, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, humusy, medium moisture, well-draining
    sweet pea flower

    The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

  14. Zinnias (Zinnia)

    These annual flowers can add a lot of color to the garden. They love hot weather and often don't really take off until the heat of summer hits. In general, they bloom from around June until frost arrives in the fall. Sow your seeds directly in the garden after your last frost date. And if you want ample blooms, sow more seeds every few weeks through June. You also can start seeds indoors about four to six weeks before your projected last frost to have some blooms earlier in the spring. Space your plants so they have good air circulation to prevent disease, and deadhead the spent flowers to encourage more blooming.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3a to 10a (annual)
    • Color Varieties: Pink, red, yellow, orange, green, purple, white
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Humusy, evenly moist, well-draining
    Zinnia flowers with bright pink layered petals in sunlight closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida