Choose plants that reseed themselves for years of bloom. Here's our list of 20 annual and perennial flowers that are self-sowing. And if you are busy deadheading your flowers—stop! Take a look at the seed heads you are cutting off. Towards late summer, allow some of the seed heads ripen until they turn brown and split open.
Your Self-Seeding Garden
The seed heads of plants are like salt shakers full of tiny seeds. When the capsules split open, scatter the seeds anywhere you would like them to grow or just let them drop where they are. Next spring, keep a sharp eye out for the seedlings when weeding. Some may be slow to emerge. If there are more than you want you don't have to keep them all. Thin them out to allow enough space for the plants to fully develop. Relocate the extras or pot them up to share with friends.
Don't be surprised if nothing germinates in the fall. Some seeds just don't like hot soil and others, such as poppies, need a cold period before they will sprout. This is called "vernalization." Wait until spring to look for your seedlings.
If you live in a warm region, some of your scattered seeds—the ones that don't mind the heat and don't need a cold period—may sprout and grow during a mild winter. They will flower early and set more seeds, giving you several generations a year.
Open-pollinated and heirloom flowers will look like the parent plant, while hybrids usually don't stay true to seed. Keep an eye out for "sports"—chance seedlings that display attractive traits not found in the parent plant. These genetic mutations can lead to some interesting new forms of old favorites.
This maroon Belamcanda was a pleasant surprise. All the others were orange! We will definitely save the seeds from this sport.
Self seeders will give your garden a natural, cottage garden look but some of them can become nuisances, crowding out more desirable plants. Be prepared to thin them out or move them to other spots around your yard.
Self-Sowing Annual Flowers
Here are some annuals that are willing self-sowers:
Colorful calendula are eager to self-sow. Bees and butterflies love them!