Horticulture Magazine

14 Flowers That Are Easy To Grow From Seed

white zinnia flowers with blurred background

In this article we identify fourteen ‘fab’ flowers which are a walk in the park to grow from seeds.

No need for some special type of soil, specific watering needs, fertiliser requirements, particular sun-shade mix, staking and support canes, or recurring pruning duties.

All of the following flowers germinate reliably from seed and are low-care to no-care ornamental plants.

Here is a general guideline (though certainly not a hard-and-fast rule):–

For any given flowering plant, all other things being equal, newer or more unusual cultivars are least easy to grow and require the most care, whereas seed packets with the word ‘mix’ are the easiest and simplest to grow and will germinate the most consistently.

Most of our selections, both annuals and perennials, are notorious self-seeders so where the annuals are concerned consider not deadheading on a continual basis and allow some number of the blooms to wither and go to seed; then, the following season you will be rewarded with a fresh batch of plants without sowing a single seed!

If you have good quality seeds, halfway decent soil, and regular rainfall, all you need do is to sprinkle-sow seeds of the following flowering plants – and forget about them.

At least some will germinate and put up lovely blooms.

What has been stated is neither an exaggeration nor a recommendation – it is a simple statement of fact to get across the reality that some flowers are really, really easy to grow from seed.

However, if you take just a little time and trouble over sowing and growing (have a look at our gardening guides), you’ll increase your chances of getting delightful flowering plants to nearly 100%.

yellow flowers of a young Tagetes lucida plant

We have tried to sequence our Fab Fourteen in ascending order of ease of growing; that is, this list progresses from easy to easier to easiest.

We also suggest a couple of seed varieties for each flower.

1) Snapdragons

snapdragons in red and yellow
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Antirrhinum
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Antiquity, Chuckles, Day & Night

This plant bears irregularly shaped flowers each of which resembles a mythical beast’s head.

Squeezing and releasing the sides of the flowers causes the ‘jaws’ to open and close – a little childhood delight that the inner child may never get tired of!

The colours are traditionally in pale, pastel shades in yellows and pinks, and also in bright lilacs and purples.

Antirrhinum seedling in compost

Snapdragons come in both annual and perennial types and have a very long flowering season from June even up to October.

Though some tall varieties are upright and have stoutish stems, others are limp and floppy; these require staking and are not recommended for the purposes of this article.

2) Hollyhocks

white, pink and purple hollyhock flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Alcea rosea
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Las Vegas mix, Chater’s Mix; try Black Knight

Hollyhock flowers are open and bowl-shaped with broad petals.

They occur mainly in the pink through purple spectrum, with yellow and crimson being less common colours.

The plants are very tall and stately yet they are naturals for cottage gardens.

Their upright and narrow profile makes them a top choice for small gardens too.

Annuals, biennials, short-lived perennials – Hollyhocks are said to be all those things and, in fact, their lifetime depends on the particular variety and the climatic zone it is grown in.

hollyhock seedling poking through garden mulch

But what is for sure is that they are excellent self-seeders so you don’t have to worry about them ‘coming back.’

They bloom for two to three months in summer and autumn.

Hollyhocks can succumb to rust but rust-resistant varieties like Alcea Rosea Ficifolia are available.

3) Scabious

a green and yellow butterfly on a blue scabiosa flower
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Scabiosa
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Tall Double Mix’, Blue Note

Scabiosa, also known as Scabious, have densely-packed dome-shaped flowerheads in double form with cutely wavy and bent petals but their distinctive feature is the central ‘pincushion’ disk.

Mostly found in the pink through purple colour range, blue and maroon-black cultivars are probably the most riveting.

Copious numbers of blooms are produced from July through September, and these nectar-rich flowers are just magnets for bees and butterflies.

scabiosa seedlings growing in the same bed

Compounds made from the flowers have long been used to treat skin conditions and also other diseases.

They are as perfect for cottage gardens and beds, usually as companion plants, as they are for vases.

Scabious are perennials as such but in the United Kingdom they are effectively annuals.

4) French Marigold

yellow and orange french marigolds
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Tagetes patula
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Fantasia Mix, Durgango Mix

French Marigolds were cultivated in France from plants originating in Central and South America, hence their name.

These are the shorter and bushier types of marigold with a smaller flower, and are also among the healthiest and most resistant types.

Flowers occur in both single and double form, and their colours range from rich yellows through scarlet and rose red with an amazing variety of golden and orange hues.

foliage of a marigold seedling in focus

Several varieties are bicoloured in yellow and orange.

French Marigolds are unbeatable choices for mass plantings and mixed beds.

They are annuals with a very long flowering season – while some will get started in late spring and others go well into autumn, almost all will bloom all summer long.

5) Gerbera

orange, pink and yellow gerbera daisies
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Hardy Sweet Mix, Cut Flower Mix; try ‘Fleurie’

Gerberas occur in both single and double form and are daisy types of flowers with numerous narrow rays.

The single forms exude a charming innocence with the disk shape prominently displayed while the double forms are convex and lush.

Available in yellows and pinks through crimson, single forms are best appreciated in white and pale, pastel shades; double forms look best in deep, vivid hues.

white gerbera plants growing in small pots

Depending on your location in the United Kingdom and the variety, this plant can be an annual or perennial.

Blooming virtually year-round in subtropical zones, in the UK many varieties will put on their respective colour shows from mid-spring clear into autumn.

If you want to introduce a child to the pleasures of gardening, Gerbera is one of the top few choices.

They make terrific pot plants and are quite possibly the most engaging and longest-lasting of cut flowers.

6) Primrose

primrose in various colours being grown in a large outdoor container
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Springtide Mix, Provence Mix, Danova Series

Many Primula Primrose varieties are simple, cheery flowers displaying lovely petals that are wide, slightly creased, and with that ‘patented’ distal notch.

The flowers occur in virtually every colour in both the cool and warm spectrums, so you get it all: pastel-shade cool blues and lavenders, and saturated and vibrant oranges and reds.

Most of them have that other ‘patented’ Primrose styling: a bright yellow centre.

yellow flowering primrose plants in a rectangular planter

They are perennials, and may be deciduous or evergreen.

Well known harbingers of spring, some varieties start blooming in December while others start late and continue into June but all will give you something uncommon: bright blooms that beat the swallows to spring.

Finally, Primrose is surely the defining plant of an English country garden – or even townhome garden!

7) Pansy

Purple and white winter-flowering pansies
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Aalsmeer Giants, Universal Super Mix

Among the easy-grow flowers, Pansies are a special joy because they are among the very few cold weather plants that can be grown effortlessly from seed, and also grow automatically as they are very reliable self-seeders.

The flower’s face is vertically oriented and even has an ‘up’ and ‘down’ side!

Many of them display a ‘face,’ which is an especial joy for children.

Viola x wittrockiana seedlings in a blue plastic pot

As for the colours, these bicoloured and multicoloured flowers throw up hues and tones that are among the most diverse and fantastic among all Flowerdom as they cover the entire colour spectrum.

Pansies are effectively annuals and they are among the first flowers to bring cheer to the garden as they emerge in earliest spring and bloom very soon thereafter.

New self-seeded plants bring up unpredictable and incredible colour combinations. Ideal for borders and edging.

8) Sunflower

sunflowers growing on an American prairie
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Helianthus annuus
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Stella (Classic), Cut Flower Mix

Well known the world over for their large flowers that ‘follow the sun’ and the spanking bright-yellow petals that surround a black-brown central disk – the seedhead – Sunflowers are among the healthiest and most robust of flowering plants.

Many varieties can tolerate different climatic conditions.

Giant varieties are exceptionally tall reaching even six metres; at the other extreme, even dwarf varieties suitable for pots are available!

sunflower seedlings facing sunlight in round containers

For the most part varieties afford a choice of some shade of yellow for the petals and a choice of browns for the disk, but some cultivars’ flowers open to unusual and attractive dark rust and maroon shades.

Sunflowers are often planted along the boundary of one’s property and can also be grown in pots.

They bloom through the summer and the first half of autumn, and they come in both perennial and annual types.

9) Garden Nasturtium

orange nasturtium flowers with green foliage
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Tropaeolum majus
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Jewel Mix, Tom Thumb Mix

Garden Nasturtiums of the Tropaeolum genus come in bushy, climbing, and trailing habits.

As easy-grow, no-care plants we recommend Garden Nasturtiums of bushy or mounding habits.

They produce very attractive funnel-shaped flowers in vivid yellows, oranges, and reds.

The broad petals are wonderfully veined and creased which is a special feature of these flowers.

a young nasturtium seedling in a compostable pot on a kitchen table

These plants have quite a long flowering season, typically throughout summer and into autumn.

Though Garden Nasturtiums are deciduous perennials in fact, they are half-hardy annuals in actuality in most regions of the United Kingdom.

These plants will bring much charm and spanking colour to borders and parapet pots for which they are ideal.

And if you want to eat these delightful flowers or the leaves, guess what? You can!

10) Sweet William

sweet william flowers in pink
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Dianthus
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Double-Flowered Dwarf, Pinocchio

Sweet William plants have bushy, often mounding, or upright and erect habits.

They are annuals and hardy biennials but the latter usually flower in their second year.

The flower is small and has an open, cheery look about it and its merry charm is given an assist by those amusing zig-zag, ‘frayed’ outer edges.

They are outrageously floriferous and produce gobs and gobs of flowers, both selfs and bicoloureds.

small plant labelled 'Dianthus Rocking Red'

They occur in hues from pinkish-white through ruby red with every imaginable shade of pink from the demurest pastel to deep magenta.

Sweet William varieties’ flowering seasons vary a lot but mid-spring to mid-summer is typical.

These plants are naturals for cottage gardens and hanging baskets, and are also very good for rockeries.

11) Pot Marigold

bright orange calendula flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Calendula officinalis
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Orange King, Kinglet Mix

Calendulas, also known as Pot Marigolds, are annuals that produce somewhat domed, double flowers with numerous narrow rays.

The flowers are not only edible, they are a well-defined ingredient in several Eurasian cuisines because of their pleasantly piquant taste.

However, you’ll probably plant these easy-grow annuals, not to eat them, but, to bask in the glow these sunny disks generate in all hues of yellows and oranges, from primrose yellow to vivid vermilion.

calendula seedlings growing in a greenhouse

Many varieties have an unusually long flowering season, producing blooms for months and months with some varieties getting underway in mid-spring and ending in mid-autumn.

They are also very floriferous plants and make a superb choice for mass plantings and also as companion plants.

12) Cosmos

cosmos flowers in a meadow with white and pink colours
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Brightness Mix, Sensation; try Choca Mocha

Cosmos are among the most satisfying of easy-grow low-care plants for multiple reasons.

To begin with, the bloom lasts for a long time on the plant and even the cut flower lasts forever in a vase.

Next, they tolerate heat and dry soils better than the vast majority of other plants, even as they produce sizeable and very attractive flowers.

And, oh, they have a long flowering season running for months at a stretch, from spring into autumn.

newly propagated cosmos plants with flowers of various shades of pink

Cosmos have wide open disk-shaped daisy-like flowers with wideish petals that have multiple notches at the distal end – simple and sweet.

Traditionally single form, some semi-double varieties are also available.

Flowers occur in all colours and all shades of the warm spectrum plus white, and are excellent for mass plantings in beds.

This plant is an annual and is a reliable re-seeder.

13) Zinnia

zinnia flower-heads in yellow, orange, purple and red
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: Bright Spark Mix, Lilliput Mixed

Zinnia, our Silver Medallist and runner-up, produces semi-rounded double flowers with densely-packed rays.

Colours are almost always in brilliant, saturated tones in the warm spectrum.

This amazing flowering plant has a rare virtue in which it probably leads the pack.

You can keep cutting flowers and put them in vases in the home, where they are very long-lasting – and the more you cut, the more new buds the plant will produce.

zinnia seedlings in small black pots

Heat and dry weather do not deter these plants.

Another merit is that they flower prolifically yet have a long flowering season – all of them bloom all summer long with many getting started in spring, winding up in autumn, or both!

Remember to let a goodly number of flowers wither and go to seed: Zinnia is a tender annual but a terrific self-seeder so your dying flowers will give you a fresh set of plants the following year.

Some cultivars also make great accent plants in containers.

14) Hardy Geranium

pink geranium flowers
  • BOTANICAL NAME: Geranium
  • RECOMMENDED VARIETIES: F1 Magic Beauty Mixed, Super Hybrid Mix, Whirlybird Mix; try Rozanne

Occupying Gold Medal position, Hardy Geraniums are not the country’s favourite perennial without good reason.

They possess all the virtues of the plants listed above – including being tasty culinary ingredients – and they don’t even need good soil.

On top of that they even stifle weeds and repel pests!

Though there are many types of geraniums with numerous plant habits and even floral forms, the easy-grow mix varieties that we propose have bushy, clumping habits.

geranium seedlings in round plastic pots

Geranium flowers may be saucer-shaped or bowl-shaped and occur in single, semi-double and double forms.

Their petals are wide, overlapping and notched; flowers are borne in sprays and clusters.

The hybrid and ‘mix’ seeds of these long-lived perennials give rise to flowers in an array of yellows, pinks, oranges, purples, and reds.

These plants bloom profusely and do so for months on end – while they bloom all summer long, in favourable conditions they will start in mid-spring and end in mid-autumn.

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