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10 Flowers That Are Easy to Start From Seed | Almanac.com

10 Flowers That Are Easy to Start From Seed

A basket of pink and red gomphrenas in a greenhouse
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Melissa Spencer, Ripple Cut Flower Farm
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Including a flower seed germination chart

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As a flower farmer, I’ve discovered that some of the easiest flowers to start from seed are also some of the most cheerful and hardy! That’s good news for all gardeners, especially beginners. Follow along to learn about my ten favorite flowers to sow from seed, along with helpful tips and a reference chart.   

Seed starting can feel mysterious and daunting, but when you find success with even just one flower, then it becomes a true source of joy and pride. As you will soon find out, it is addictive in the best of ways! 

I recommend, if you are a beginner, to grow slowly and start small, with maybe 1 or 2 flowers first, until you have success. Soon after, you will have every windowsill painted green with the promise of color happily growing in the sun. After years of trialing many varieties of flowers, I have come to rely on certain ones year after year that I can easily start inside and transplant out when the time is right. 

My 10 Favorite Flowers to Grow From Seed

1. Snapdragon Antirrhinum majus Fragrant, ruffly blooms that remind me of the citrusy scent of the old-time fruit stripe gum of childhood and the first flower that I fell in love with seeding, despite it being the tiniest seed I had ever seen! I doubted myself through the whole process and continued anyway. It reminded me that actions speak louder than words and just to have some faith. I was rewarded with the most lovely, fragrant, billowy blooms that first spring and have grown thousands since. Sowing Tip: These annuals are cold and hardy, and their seeds are extremely tiny, the size of a speck of pepper. If you sprinkle generously on top of your soil or container, the seedlings can be thinned or pricked out and spread out as they grow.

2. Sunflower Helianthus annuus There isn’t a seed that could be easier! The majestic, sun-faced sunflowers are one of the most important and oldest native flowers of North America. A source of food, oil, and beauty, they have also been known to clean and aerate the soil with their incredibly deep taproots. Sunflower varieties are exploding these days, with individual growers choosing and selecting for certain color strains to isolate and breed. Tall, short, branching, red, yellow, white, and brown, the variety for growing sunflowers is endless! Sowing Tip: When sowing, be sure to bury your seed about 1/2 inch deep. If direct seeding, keep seeds protected with a little covering until they germinate and the seed head has fallen off,  as the birds love the seeds and will feast upon them! See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Sunflowers.

3. Zinnia Zinnia elegans may be the second easiest seed to start ever, next to sunflower. Zinnia is a real pleasure to grow and super easy to maintain. It is a summer annual that comes in a variety of shades and colors, with the Queen Series above being a customer favorite. Keep deadheaded, and it will keep on throwing up blooms. If pinched when young, they will branch out and offer even more blooms. Sowing Tip: While you can plant directly into the soil, I often start these ahead of time and get them quickly growing by sprouting hundreds of them on paper towels first and then pricking them out and placing them into the soil to grow on. See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Zinnias.

4. Celosia Celosia spicata Wispy, wavy, and spikey, the diversity of Celosia is a treat for the eyes. This is a fun flower that loves the summer heat, adds texture and color to the garden, and makes a beautiful cut flower when added to bouquets. Also known as an everlasting, it dries really well and can be used in crafting autumn wreaths or other holiday décor. Sowing Tip: The tiny seeds can be sown using the “toothpick method.” Pour seeds into a bowl and lick the toothpick or dip them into water. Pick up one seed at a time and place them on top of the soil to sow. Or, simply sprinkle between your thumb and pointer fingers onto the soil surface.

5. Cosmos Cosmos bipinnatusThese graceful beauties always make me wish I had started more and planted more of them, especially when the wind picks up, and they dance around at the change of the seasons. It is a great seedling to grow and plant with young children because of its prolific root system that makes the seedling hardy and so easy to handle and tuck into the earth for smaller hands. They are foolproof! If you have kids, sow Cosmo seeds and let them at it! Sowing Tip: Bury the seed about 1/4 inch into the soil. See the Almanac’s Cosmos Growing Guide.

6. Amaranthus Amaranthus caudatus For bouquets and fall adornment, amaranth can’t be beaten. Love-Lies- Bleeding might be my favorite, however the color options, en masse, complement each other so well. Starting these lovelies indoors is easy, and they will easily self-sow if left to go to seed! Tuck a sunflower and some yarrow into a bouquet with amaranth, and you have a bountiful autumn centerpiece. Sowing Tip: Cover very lightly with vermiculite or soilless mix after sowing and mist well. See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Amaranth.

7. Calendula Calendula officinalis Along with Sunflower, Calendula is one of the quickest-growing flowers to bloom from seed in just about two months! A beautiful, heat-loving annual that holds up well as a cut flower or plant for a lively pop of color in the garden, Calendula will keep on blooming if you keep them dead-headed. We cut and dry the flower heads to use as an everlasting in dried arrangements, and this bright light also has excellent medicinal properties. Sowing Tip: Fun seed shapes germinate easily, covered, or uncovered. Keep moist until germination. See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Calendula.

8. Yarrow Achillea millefolium A cold-hardy workhorse on the farm, yarrow offers durability, productivity, and a beautiful range of pastel hues to choose from and is a favorite for bees and butterflies! Yarrow is versatile in its qualities in the garden. It is a great cut flower with medicinal properties that feed our pollinators and easily self-sows. Sowing Tip: Seeds are started easily indoors about 8-10 weeks before the last frost. See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Yarrow.

9. Gomphrena, aka Globe Amaranth Gomphrena haageana. Once I started growing Gomphrena, I didn’t miss a season and added additional colors each year. The impact that these colorful orbs of beauty add to the landscape or a bouquet is invaluable. Planted en masse in flowerpots would be just as stunning. As a flower, they work great as a filler and offer a great vase life. They dry well and can be used in floral wreaths or crafts. Sowing Tip: Sprinkle vermiculite or light covering of soilless mix and mist after sowing.

10. Bachelor’s Button, aka Cornflower Centaurea cyanus: Sweet as a button and with so much more color! This is a hardy annual flower that is cold-tolerant and will benefit from starting early indoors before the season really gets going and planted out as soon as the soil can be worked. Loved by pollinators, edible varieties, and a great cut flower, Bachelors Button is a great addition to your flower sowing routine. Seeds are large and easy to sow and tend to germinate prolifically. Sowing Tip: Can be fall sown or direct sown in spring. See the Almanac’s Guide to Growing Bachelor’s Buttons.   
 

10 Easy Seeds to Sow Germination Chart

Below is a handy reference with a chart of the 10 easiest flowers to start from seed.

 Start Seeds Indoors (weeks before the last frost date)Days to Germination and TempsCold-HardyCover Seeds? (w/growing medium)
Amaranth4-6 weeks7-10 days 70-75Fnoyes
Bachelor’s Button3-4 weeks7-14 days 60-65Fyesno
Calendula4-5 weeks7-14 days 65-70Fnono
Celosia6-8 weeks7-14 days 70-75Fnono
Celosia6-8 weeks7-14 days 70-75Fnono
Cosmos5-7 weeks7-10 days 70-75Fnoyes
Gomphrena6-8 weeks7-14 days 70-75Fnoyes
Snapdragon8-10 weeks7-10 days 70-75Fyesno
Sunflower3-4 weeks7-14 days 70-75Fnoyes
Yarrow8-10 weeks10-14 days 65-70Fyesno
Zinnia3-4 weeks3-5 days 75-80Fnoyes

Now that you know which flowers to sow, see my step-by-step guide on HOW to start flowers from seed.

About The Author

Melissa Spencer

Melissa Spencer is a flower farmer, writer, and dirt-worshipper living in the Monadnock Region of Southern NH. Read More from Melissa Spencer

2023 Gardening Club