13 Unusual Flowers That Are Easy to Grow

From Seed to Bloom in One Season

Rare nemophilia plant with white circular flowers with purple spots

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Easy-to-grow flowers like marigolds and zinnias will never lose their luster in the annual flower garden, but sometimes it’s fun to shake things up with a new introduction. Even if you are new to flower gardening, you can achieve success with these low maintenance, unique flowering plants.

  • 01 of 13

    Night Phlox

    Night Phlox

    Sam Saunders / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Rarely does a plant as striking as Zaluzianskya capensis avoid mass cultivation, but somehow gardeners have overlooked the bloom that some describe as smelling like warm cookies. Seeds germinate in less than a week when you press them onto warm, moist soil. Plant the 12-inch plants at the front of the border, where you can enjoy their fragrant evening blooms.

  • 02 of 13


    Clarkia flower

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    Also known as mountain garland and farewell-to-spring, these native annual flowers look delicate but tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. True to the garland name, the flower spikes are easy to fashion into crowns. Clarkia spp. plants grow from Arizona to Alaska in a range of colors including white, purple, pink, orange, and red. Plant the seeds early, as they will germinate readily in cool temperatures. Flowers will close in the evening and open in the morning, a clue to the fact that they belong to the evening primrose family. Clarkia requires average soil in sun or partial shade and supplemental watering only during droughts.

  • 03 of 13


    Rare nemophila flowers with circular white petals and purple spots closeup

    The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

    Some consider the ‘Baby Blue Eyes’ variety of Nemophila spp. the most showy with its masses of blue early summer blossoms with white centers, but don’t overlook the ‘Total Eclipse’ variety with trendy black flowers. ‘Five Spot’ is another cute and quirky nemophila favorite featuring white flowers with a purple splotch on each petal. All three varieties make excellent ground covers in areas with moist soil. A partial sun exposure will protect the delicate flowers and extend blooming time to at least three weeks.

  • 04 of 13


    Lamb's Tail

    Nakano Masahiro / amanaimagesRF / Getty Images

    If you aren’t sure how to pronounce the tongue twister of a name, Ptilotus, just ask for this flower by its common moniker, the lamb’s tail. The pink, feathery flowers might remind you of celosia, which makes sense, as both are members of the Amaranthaceae family. Lamb’s tail is a tender perennial in USDA cold hardiness zones 9-11, but most gardeners grow it from seed each year as an annual. The silvery foliage is a clue to the drought tolerance of this xeriscape favorite, so don’t overwater your plants. Like other plants that grow in desert areas, lamb’s tail needs full sun and lean, loose soil without additional fertilizer.

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  • 05 of 13



    Mark Bolton / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    Every flower garden can benefit from the vertical interest of a vine, and the purple bell vine is one you’ll want to grow again and again. Unlike some annual vines, which outgrow any reasonable garden trellis before the end of summer, purple bell vine has a moderate growth habit and can be pruned to maintain a tidy shape. The plants can take more than a month to germinate from seed, so it’s beneficial to start with transplants especially if you live in a cold climate. Site your purple bell vine in a partly sunny spot (afternoon shade is perfect), and keep it moist throughout its growth.

  • 06 of 13



    Mark Bolton / Photolibrary / Getty Images

    If you cut a few of these for the vase you’ll soon see why one common name of this 12-inch plant is “catchfly,” as the sap is very sticky. The true blue variety of this five-petaled annual can’t be beat, but the pink, white, red, and lavender types are lovely as well. Viscaria vulgaris is a hardy annual that won’t fade when temperatures rise. Plant in full sun, and water when the soil surface dries out.

  • 07 of 13

    Blow Wives

    Blow wive flower in bloom


    Andrei Stanescu / Getty Images

    Although Achyrachaena mollis isn't a common flower at the garden center, you might see them growing in a California meadow where they flourish as native plants. The common name comes from the way these summer blooms shatter like dandelions when you give them a puff. These annuals tolerate clay and drought well and will reseed themselves after their end-of-summer blooming cycle is finished. 

  • 08 of 13

    Corkscrew Vine

    Snail Vine, Corkscrew Vine

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    Vigna caracalla looks like one of those gimmicky plants you see in some plant catalogs, but these tropical vines live up to their otherworldly photos. Corkscrew vine produces nautilus-shaped flowers in late summer and fall, and will grow up to 20 feet in USDA cold hardiness zones 9 and 10. Provide rich, moist soil and full sun for the plants and enjoy the progression of the blooms from white to purple.

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  • 09 of 13

    Mask Flower

    Mask flower

    By Merete Stava / Getty Images 

    The Alonsoa meridionalis is a Chilean native that will delight your senses with a myriad of tiny blooms held aloft on three-foot stalks all summer. When blooming slows down, cut the stalks back and wait for a second flush of flowers when cooler temperatures arrive. Mask flower plants appreciate full sun and rich soil, making them a suitable companion for roses or dahlias. In addition to the cheerful red variety, you can grow the creamy salmon 'Apricot' cultivar. 

  • 10 of 13

    Zimbabwe Creeper

    Pink Trumpet Vine

     Frank Kuschmierz / Getty Images

    Are you looking for a fast growing plant to perk up your arbor or fencePodranea brycei grows as a shrub or a vine depending on how you prune it. Either way, the bright pink trumpet-shaped flowers will add fragrance to your sunny garden throughout the season. Also known as the bubblegum vine or Port John's creeper, it is a tender perennial and looks its best in zones 9 and warmer. 

  • 11 of 13

    Scarlet Tassel Flower

    Tassel Flower

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    The bluish-green leaves of Emilia coccinea make the bright red poms of this native flower a stand-out in any low maintenance garden. Add the 20-inch plants to your containers, window boxes, and cutting garden where the plants will bloom from summer through early fall. Look for this uncommon heirloom under the alternative name Flora's Paintbrush on seed trading forums.

  • 12 of 13

    Basket Flower

    Centaurea americana

    williamhc / Getty Images

    For gardeners struggling to find flowers for alkaline soils, Centaurea americana yields gorgeous results while nourishing all types of bees. The late season bloomer prefers good drainage and comes in white or lavender varieties.

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  • 13 of 13


    Flowering Flax

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    Linum grandiflorum was once a common sight in Victorian gardens but fell out of fashion as non-native plants grew in demand in landscapes. Five-petaled flowers often feature a darker eye, making them resemble anemones. A second sowing will extend the bloom time of flax in areas with cool summers. Plant them in full sun and provide average soil.