How to Grow Flowers from Seed

Growing plants from seeds is not only easy to do, it is one of the cheapest ways to fill your garden with abundance. Very often we think only of growing vegetables from seed, but flower seeds are just as easy to start and you'll have a greater choice of variety and color, if you are willing to start your own.

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 plants. Annual flowers will bloom right on schedule. Many of them will even seed themselves. If you've been dreaming of non-stop color, pick up some seed packets and get started.

  • 01 of 05

    Growing Annual Flower Seeds

    Garden of Annual Flowers in Bloom
    Marie Iannotti

    Annual flowers are the backbone of billowy cottage gardens. Many annuals will seed themselves. All you have to do is leave the flowers on the plants at the end of the season. They will drop seed and magically, the seeds will weave themselves throughout the garden. Okay, it's not magic and sometimes you will get too many seedlings in one spot, to the point of them becoming a nuisance, but small seedlings are very easy to pull or transplant.

    Annual flowers tend to grow quickly and even those you direct sow outdoors in the spring, will flower at their usual bloom time or very soon after. Any of the annuals that self-sow are good candidates for starting from seed, either indoors or direct sown.

  • 02 of 05

    Growing Perennial Flowers from Seed

    Perennial Border
    Sonia Hunt / Getty Images

    Most perennial plants don't bloom until their second year. They spend their first season growing a strong root system and lots of leaves for photosynthesis. Sometimes you can get around this, by starting your perennial seeds in the fall and fooling the plants into thinking the following spring is year two. Sometimes you have to be patient.

    Once your perennial flowers are established, they will not only begin blooming, they will get larger every year. In a few years, you will be able to make even more plants, by dividing the ones you have. What's more economical than free plants?

  • 03 of 05

    Speeding Up Seed Starting

    Seed Pod Splitting Open
    Marie Iannotti

    Not all seeds know it's time to sprout, just because they are planted in soil. Some seeds need a signal that it's time to germinate. It can be a change in temperature, a moisture level, or increasing light. These two methods are good for tricking seeds into germinating sooner than they might.

    1. Winter sowing involves starting seed outdoors, while the temperatures are still frigid. Not all seeds can survive freezing temperatures, but there are some that absolutely need the freezing and thawing action to break dormancy or to crack their hard coverings. 
    2. Seeds with really tough or thick coverings can take forever to germinate. Scarification can give them a jump start.
  • 04 of 05

    Growing a Wildflower Garden

    Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
    Marie Iannotti

    There's a certain romantic quality about a field of wildflowers. Many gardeners are drawn to them for their natural look, thinking they must also be easy to maintain. However, if you think wildflower gardens and meadows are no maintenance, think again. They require a lot of diligence to become established and regular maintenance and renewal to keep them looking good and prevent them from becoming weedy. Even in nature, meadows are just a transitional phase from field to forest.

    But that doesn't mean you can't have a wildflower garden. If you plan to start from seed, it is not as simple as picking up a pack of wildflower seeds. You'll need a good mix of perennial natives, grasses and self-sowers and an eye for editing, but the rewards can be worth it.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Maintaining Your Flower Garden

    Plant Division
    Marie Iannotti

    Once your garden is overflowing with abundance, you'll want to keep it in flower. If you love to garden, this is the fun part. Deadheading, pruning, and re-seeding let you take part in the seasons of your garden. This is where you really get to know your plants, how they perform, and what they like.

    A long blooming garden has another perk, too. At the end of the season, you can collect still more seeds from your own plants, to sow the following year. If you already have enough of those plants and want something different, either swap seeds or start the seedlings anyway and swap the seeding with friends, in the spring. Look for seed swaps in your community, at public gardens and online or start one of your own.