Just about every gardener is keen to prove their prowess by starting plants — including flowering perennials — from seed. But they also marvel at the various stages of growth and how something so beautiful and vibrant can grow from such a tiny seed.
The beauty of growing perennial flowers from seed is that they will come back at least for one more season, with little work from you. In this list, you will find seven of the most beautiful ones to add to your collection. Just remember growing from seed takes patience. It’s worth it.
Dalmatian Purple Foxglove
One of the fastest-growing foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), the Dalmatian variety usually has rich lavender-purple flowers and often blooms in its first season in early summer. Foxgloves can grow to 2 to 3 feet tall in less than four months from seed. These perennials are prolific self-seeders — each one producing as many as one to two million seeds, so you can enjoy them for years to come or share your bounty.
Revel in the bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies swarming your ‘Dalmatian Prurple’ foxgloves. Keep these flowering perennials sweet in an area with full sun or light shade, and preferably moist, light, rich soil. Although, they will thrive in any moist soil.
When to sow: It’s easiest to sow seeds outdoors in later summer. Sow indoors eight to 10 weeks before the last frost.
Germination: 20 to 30 days
Also known as coneflower, echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) grows easily from seed and will often bloom in the first year from June to August. Lucky for you the coneflower is an avid self-seeder.
Grown as much for their beauty as they are for health benefits, these perennials naturally produce flowers in purple and pink hues. Thanks to hybrids, you can also enjoy orange, red, and or multicolored blossoms.
Echinacea plants attract pollinators like birds and butterflies. They do best in loamy, well-draining soil but will also tolerate other types of soil. They are resistant to drought, heat, salt, and deer. An area of your garden with full sun to partial shade is just perfect for it.
When to sow: Indoors at least eight weeks before the last frost, or outside once the soil is 65 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Germination: 10 to 21 days
Native to Southern Africa, ice plant (Delosperma cooperi) is a great choice for drought-plagued gardens. Between June and October, it will fill your landscape with flowers in lavender, pink, purple, or multicolored blooms. Their “star” attraction is their aster-like form and bright, metallic sheen.
Ice plants are excellent nectar sources for bees. If you are eager to boost the population of these insects that are vital to the ecosystem, be sure to add these succulent perennials to your garden. They like sandy soil and a location where they can get at least six hours of full sun each day.
When to sow: Start seeds indoors and maintain a 70 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. You also have the option to spread the seeds onto gravel four to six weeks before the last frost date in your area.
Germination: 7 to 20 days
Lovely lupines (Lupinus perennis) come in about 200 varieties, with one variety — the Blue Bonnet — regaled as the state flower of Texas. These perennials boast elegant, spiky racemes that can reach 3 feet tall. They’re decked with fragrant, pea-like flower clusters in shades of blue, pink, purple, and white.
Lupine derives from lupus, or the Latin word for “wolf” because they once had a reputation for “wolfing” nutrients from the soil. Contrary to that belief, as nitrogen-fixing plants, lupines in your garden will enhance the soil. These perennials like moist, slightly acidic, or neutral soil and full sun to partial shade.
Pro Tip: Lupines can be invasive, but you can find commercially grown varieties that are less so. Be sure to ask for advice when purchasing the seeds. Also, their seeds in large quantities are toxic to humans and animals.
When to sow: Easiest way is outdoors in early to mid-spring or autumn. Indoors about six to eight weeks before the last frost.
Germination: 14 to 60 days
Penstemon is also known as beardtongue or bearded tongue. Some varieties have infertile pollen sacs or “tongues” that look hairy. If you are keen to conserve water in your garden, penstemons should be high on your list of perennial flowers to start from seed. It’s easiest to sew them directly outdoors in the fall.
You will have more than 250 varieties to choose from to create a kaleidoscope of colors in your garden. These native perennials also come in a variety of sizes. Select shorter varieties for borders, ground cover, and containers. Taller varieties can soar to between 6 and 8 feet. They will be resplendent in flowerbeds, or along fences and walls.
Wherever they grow, penstemons will attract songbirds, hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. They need at least six hours of full sun daily, and soil with good drainage.
When to sow: Outdoors in late autumn or early winter for late spring to early summer growth.
Germination: Patience is key — It can take up to eight weeks for the first seedling to sprout.
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum) are some of the easiest perennial flowers to start from seed. Expect to see seedlings in as little as 10 to 20 days after sewing that can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
These hardy perennials are available in a variety of sizes and flower forms, including semi-double and double. Some blooms also have charming, fuzzy centers. These daisies dazzle along borders or as part of a wildflower, cottage, or butterfly garden. They also do well in pots and provide a bounty of blossoms for your floral arrangements.
Shasta daisies need at least six hours of sunlight daily and moist, well-draining, loamy soil.
When to sow: Outdoors when soil is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
Germination: 10 to 20 days
Often grown as an annual, Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) is a short-lived perennial that earns its spot on this list. They are easy to grow, and from May to September, they produce showy, coquettish blossoms that woo butterflies and hummingbirds.
Typically, these hardy plants bloom in the second year. However, some cultivars will flower in the first year if you sew their seeds early enough indoors.
Plant Sweet William in neutral, well-drained soil chockfull of organic matter. To keep their flowers longer, a partially shaded location is preferable, but they will also thrive in full sun.
When to sow: Outside in early spring, even if some frost can occur. Indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost.
Germination: Three weeks for perennials
Sowing Seeds of Success
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these perennial flowers are reliable to grow from seed. They are also low-maintenance, and you can use them for various reasons, including floral arrangements, potpourri, and even a nutritious brew. Learn more about how to germinate seeds to increase your chances of success.
If you didn’t see your favorite flowering perennials to start from seed on this list, please add them below and share with others what makes them quite so special.