Ideas & Inspiration
How to Grow an Easy Flower Garden from Seed
Sow flower seeds directly in your garden bed or in containers for an easy start to a blooming flower garden. Not only beautiful, flowers invite pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden and make a vegetable garden more productive. This guide will teach you how to sow flower seeds in beds, indoors and in a cold frame so you can grow a garden brimming with your favorite flowers.
Give these seeds a try this summer: zinnias, coreopsis, marigolds, poppies, calendula, wildflower mixes, cosmos, sunflowers, rudbeckia and echinacea.
The first step toward a successful flower garden is choosing the right flower seeds for your climate, garden bed locations and the amount of daily care you can offer. You should also decide whether you want annual flowers, perennial flowers or a combination in your garden.
- Annual flowers will bloom all season long until the first frost. While they attract many pollinators that are great for your other garden plants, they must be replanted each year if you want to continue to enjoy them. Popular annual flowers are zinnias, geraniums, impatiens, pansies and petunias.
- Perennial flowers will return year after year, going dormant during the cold season. When planting perennials, plan for them to make a reappearance next spring as well. Their seeds may take longer to germinate than annual flower seeds. Popular perennial flowers include phlox, daylilies, coneflowers and daisies.
- Some perennial flowers that thrive in warm climates are treated as annuals in colder climates, since they cannot survive the harsher winter.
- Determine how much sun your garden beds get and choose flower seeds that do best in either sun or shade based on your findings.
- Some flowers tolerate drought better than others. If you live in a dry climate, choose flowers that prefer little watering. If you live in a wet climate, choose flowers that prefer more water.
- You can extend the life of your blooms by strategically choosing flowers that suit your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone. This is especially important when choosing perennial flowers to ensure they return next season. To learn more about your USDA Hardiness Zone, refer to the chart above or read our guide Find Your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.
The key to sowing annual flower seeds is to start early enough in the season to have blooms before the first frost in fall. You have more flexibility when sowing perennial flower seeds, but to enjoy their blooms this season, you’ll need to plan just as you would for annuals.
- Seed packets have dates to maturity to use as a guideline.
- Some seed packets may also tell you when to plant in relation to the last spring frost in your area. Use our Frost Date Calendar to determine the frost dates in your area.
- For early-spring blooms, plant flower seeds in late summer to early fall so that they can germinate over winter.
Tip: Seed packets will typically have enough seeds to last you for several seasons, but they have a shelf life of about two to three years.
You can start flower seeds directly in your garden bed through a method called “direct-sowing.” Direct-sowing works best with annual flower seeds and wildflower seed mixes.
- With few exceptions, annual flower seeds should not be planted until after the last spring frost.
- Ensure your planting location gets the right amount of sunlight for the seeds you’ve chosen. Wildflower seed mixes typically need full sun.
- Prepare the soil in your garden bed. Break up dense soil and mix in gardening soil or compost to lighten it.
- Water the soil until it is moist throughout.
- The seed packet will tell you how far apart and how deep to plant the seeds. Sow seeds densely only if you plan to thin the seedlings later.
- Keep soil moist. Seeds need consistent moisture to germinate, but water gently to avoid washing away the soil or seeds. Water less often as seedlings sprout.
- Fertilize and thin the seedlings as needed.
Tip: Sunflowers, marigolds, bachelor buttons, cosmos and morning glories have hardy flower seeds that are easy to direct-sow.
Get a head start on your flowers by starting the seeds indoors. When you start seeds indoors, you don’t have to worry about unexpected frosts, so you can start sowing in early spring and replant your flowers outdoors at the first sign of warm weather. When direct-sowing, you can expect blooms by mid-summer, but when you start flower seeds indoors, you can get blooms by the end of spring or early summer.
- Either use a seed starter or prepare a seed tray with potting soil.
- Pre-moisten the potting soil in a bowl until it is moist throughout but not dripping wet.
- Fill each cell in the seed tray up to the top with the moist soil, tamping the tray against the table as you go to eliminate air pockets in the soil.
- Poke a hole into the soil in each cell using either your finger or a pencil. Read the flower seed packet to see how deep the seeds should be planted. If you’re still unsure, a good rule of thumb is to plant a seed at a depth twice its size.
- Place one or two seeds in each hole and cover lightly with more potting soil until all seeds are covered.
- Place the seed tray in a plastic tub or drip tray with about an inch of water at the bottom. Allow the soil to absorb water from the bottom and refresh the water as needed.
- Do not water the top of the soil until the seeds have sprouted into seedlings.
- Cover the tray with a clear plastic top or plastic wrap to insulate the seeds.
- Place the tray in a warm corner of your home (at least 65-degrees Fahrenheit) or on top of a heat mat.
- Once seedlings have sprouted, remove the plastic covering and tray of water. Begin watering overhead with a spray bottle whenever the soil appears dry.
- When the seedlings outgrow their tray, you can either repot them into containers or begin transitioning them outdoors if it is warm enough.
- When the weather is warm enough, set the seedlings outside each day for increasingly longer periods of time to acclimate them to natural temperature changes. When all risk of frost has passed, you can plant the seedlings in your garden beds.
Tip: Perennial flower seeds can take longer to germinate, so if you want them to bloom earlier in the season, starting their seeds indoors is the best method.
If you want to plant flower seeds early in the season, you can also plant them outside in a cold frame. A cold frame is a garden bed that is insulated with a tight-fitting, transparent lid. It traps heat from the sun to keep seeds and young plants warm in cold weather. You can even use a cold frame to overwinter perennial flower seeds.
- Have the cold frame prepared at least two weeks before sowing seeds to adequately warm the soil.
- Direct-sow flower seeds in the cold frame as you normally would in a garden bed.
- Once the seeds have germinated into seedlings, vent the cold frame during the day when the outdoor temperature reaches 45 to 50-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Most plants die in cold frames due to overheating and drought, so pay close attention to the soil water levels and plan a ventilation schedule.
Starting flowers from seeds is a great way to get kids interested in gardening. Allow them to choose their favorite variety of flowers and get them involved in the early care of the seedlings. Watching seeds grow in seed trays can be a great learning opportunity for kids. Plus, replanting the seedlings in the garden can get the whole family outdoors to enjoy the spring weather.
With a little patience, growing a flower garden from seeds can be easy and rewarding. Whether you start your seeds inside or directly in a garden bed depends on your gardening style and how early you want to see your flower garden in full bloom. Once you’re ready to get the supplies you need to grow an easy flower garden from seeds, find products fast with image search in The Home Depot app. Snap a picture of an item you like, and we'll show you similar products.