How to Grow Gorgeous Perennial Flowers from Seeds – A Complete Guide

Starting perennials from seeds allows you to grow more plants for less money compared to buying starters. With proper planning and care, you can grow vibrant, abundant flowers from seeds even if you’re new to gardening. Follow this complete guide to sowing, growing, and transplanting perennial flower seeds for success.

Why Grow Perennials from Seed?

Here are some key benefits of starting your own perennials from seeds

  • Cost savings – Packets of perennial seeds are very affordable compared to purchasing starter plants

  • Wider selection – You can find many more flower varieties available as seeds.

  • Large quantities – It’s easy to grow dozens or even hundreds of plants from one seed packet.

  • Earlier blooms – Homegrown plants may flower sooner their first year.

  • Self-sowing – Many spread readily providing free plants year after year.

While growing perennials from seeds does require time and diligence, the payoff is abundant flowers that keep coming back.

Timing When to Plant Perennial Seeds

Most perennial seeds are best sown indoors 8-12 weeks before your last expected spring frost. This gives enough time for the seeds to germinate and seedlings to grow large enough to transplant outside after danger of frost has passed.

Check your local frost dates and count backwards from your last freeze to determine when to start seeds indoors. In warmer climates, some perennial seeds can be sown directly in the garden in late winter or early spring.

Selecting Perennial Flowers to Grow from Seed

With proper care, many popular perennials can be grown successfully from seed, including:

  • Blanket flower (Gaillardia)
  • Catmint (Nepeta)
  • Coreopsis
  • Gaura
  • Hollyhocks (Alcea)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Penstemon
  • Russian sage (Perovskia)
  • Salvia
  • Veronica

Focus on hardy perennials suited to your growing zone. Avoid tender perennials like foxglove that resent transplanting. Seed packets should note “easy from seed” or similar language.

Gather Supplies for Starting Seeds

You’ll need the following supplies to get your perennial seeds off to a great start:

  • Small pots or trays – 3-4” pots or cell packs work well
  • Seed starting mix – Use a mix formulated for seeds
  • Grow lights – Perennial seeds need 12-16 hours of daily light
  • Plastic domes or bags – Maintain high humidity around seeds
  • Spray bottle – For gentle watering of surface seeds
  • Labels – Identify seed varieties with date sown

A heated seed starting mat is also helpful to warm soil for better germination.

Sowing Perennial Seeds Indoors

Follow these steps when sowing perennial seeds:

  • Moisten seed starting mix and fill containers, leaving 1⁄4 inch below rim.

  • For large seeds, plant at depth specified on packet, usually 1⁄4-1⁄2 inch.

  • For fine seeds, sprinkle or press onto the surface. They need light to germinate.

  • Mist soil, cover, label with variety and date. Keep at 70-75°F.

  • Remove dome once first seedlings emerge to prevent mold.

  • Move to sunny spot or under grow lights, keeping soil moist but not soggy.

Transplanting Perennial Seedlings

After 8-12 weeks indoors, perennial seedlings will be ready to transplant outside after all danger of frost has passed. Follow these tips:

  • Harden off plants by setting them outdoors in partial shade for 7-10 days beforehand.

  • Water seedlings well before transplanting. Carefully loosen roots before planting.

  • Space plants according to mature spread, usually 12-24 inches apart.

  • Water transplants well and provide shade for 1-2 weeks until established.

  • Pinch back leggy or flowering seedlings by 1/3 to encourage bushy growth.

Direct Sowing Perennial Seeds Outdoors

In warm climates, some perennials like gaillardia can be sown right in prepared garden beds. Follow these spring sowing tips:

  • Prepare soil by mixing in 1-2 inches of compost or manure. Rake smooth.

  • Sow seeds just below soil surface, spaced well. Cover and firm soil.

  • Water gently with a fine mist to avoid washing away small seeds.

  • Mulch newly sown beds with grass clippings or straw to retain moisture.

  • Thin seedlings once they reach 2-4 inches to proper spacing.

  • Harden off thinned plants by reducing watering before transplanting.

Caring for Perennials Grown from Seed

Give your homegrown perennials a good start with consistent care:

  • Water transplants weekly if rainfall is less than 1 inch.

  • Apply balanced organic fertilizer when planting and again in midsummer.

  • Mulch beds with 2-3 inches of organic matter to conserve moisture and control weeds.

  • Stake tall flowers like delphiniums and hollyhocks to prevent toppling.

  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers.

  • Cut back perennials after frost to make room for spring growth.

  • Divide overcrowded clumps in spring or fall to rejuvenate plants.

With attentive care and optimal growing conditions, your seed-sown perennials will thrive and brighten your garden for years to come.

Troubleshooting Perennials Grown from Seeds

If your perennial seeds or seedlings aren’t thriving, here are some common issues and solutions:

  • Seeds failing to germinate – Ensure seeds have sufficient moisture and proper soil temperature. Cover seeds that require darkness to sprout.

  • Leggy, weak seedlings – Give more sunlight, use grow lights, avoid overcrowding, and cut back on nitrogen fertilizer.

  • Transplants dying – Transplant into larger pots before moving to garden. Harden off gradually. Plant in well-draining soil and water thoroughly.

  • Poor flowering – Increase sunlight. Deadhead spent blooms. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers after blooming begins.

  • Diseases or pests – Isolate and dispose of infected plants. Improve air circulation. Use organic pest control methods.

Don’t get discouraged! It may take some trial and error to get your techniques refined when growing perennials from seeds.

Enjoy Gorgeous Seeded Perennials Year After Year

The added effort of starting perennial flowers from seed is rewarded with a bounty of blossoms once your plants become established. You’ll save money, grow unique varieties, and develop gardening skills in the process.

Follow this guide for seed sowing, transplanting, care, and troubleshooting. Soon you’ll have the colorful, thriving perennial garden of your dreams grown from seeds. The variety and abundance you can achieve make it well worth the time invested.

Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

This blanket flower is a cross between two native Gaillardia species. It grows mounds of gray-green leaves with big flowers that look like daisies and come in shades of yellow, orange, and red. Flowers are attractive to butterflies and are beautiful in bouquets.

  • Grow in full sun and well-drained soil; once established, it can handle drought. Plants are somewhat short-lived but may self-sow. Zones 3 to 10.
  • Tips for starting seeds: Light aids germination. Keep in a warm room (70 to 75 degrees F); it could take up to three weeks for the seeds to sprout.
  • Varieties: Mesa Yellow grows 18-20″ high with yellow blooms. AZ Sun has dark red-orange and yellow flowers on 12′′ tall, compact plants.

Oxeye, False Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides scabra)

This clump-forming perennial grows 3-4 ft. tall and bright golden yellow, sunflower-like blooms starting in midsummer and continuing into fall. Attracts butterflies; perfect for cut flowers.

  • Culture: The plant is very flexible; it does best in full sun and can handle dry soil once it’s established. Zones 4 to 9.
  • For starting seeds, remember that light helps them grow and that they should sprout in 10 to 14 days.
  • Varieties: Summer Sun has semi-double, golden yellow flowers. Summer Nights has flowers that are yellow with dark orange centers. The leaves are tinged with red.

16 Perennial flowers you should grow from seeds. This is why!

Are perennial flowers easy to start from seed?

Perennial flowers provide beauty in your garden year after year. If you’re new to starting flowers from seed, or you are creating your first perennial flower patch, keep reading! We’ll go through 15 perennials that are easy and fun to start from seed . Tubular penstemon flowers are a hummingbird favorite.

How do I start perennials from seed?

Starting perennials from seed is similar to starting vegetables and annual flowers with a few exceptions, noted below. For general how-to information, see How to Start Seeds, which is a comprehensive guide. Be patient. Seeds for the perennials in this list are typically slower to germinate than seeds you might be familiar with growing.

How long does it take to grow perennial flowers from seed?

True, they often take a year to become established and start blooming, but there are ways around that. And starting perennial flowers from seed is a great way to fill out your garden without breaking your budget. Here are 10 perennials that are easily grown from seed and some tips for starting each.

Can you grow flowers from seed?

Look for seed swaps in your community, at public gardens, or online, or start one of your own. Growing flowers from seed can take some patience, but it’s an inexpensive way to fill your garden with color. Use these tips to get started.

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