Quick and Easy Color

Create blooms on a budget by seeding your garden.
Charlie Thigpen

Annuals such as sunflowers and zinnias are seeded in the spring for summer blooms.

If you want flowers on a budget, direct seeding is the cheapest way to go. Just ask Jeff and Tina Cornett. They needed to fill some spots in their new landscape and discovered that a few seed packs could fill those places with a quick bounty of blooms.

Getting Started
First, look at the area you intend to seed. See how much sun it receives throughout the day. Don't try to grow sun-loving plants in the shade and vice versa. Make sure the plants you'll be seeding are height appropriate for the space. Also, make sure the flower colors will work together and that the seeds you select are seasonally correct. Many plants--such as bachelor's buttons, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, daisies, hollyhocks, and poppies--should be seeded in the fall. Plants such as cosmos, cleome, zinnias, sunflowers, and Mexican sunflowers can be seeded in the spring and early summer.

Seed Packets
Carefully read the seed packets. They have information to help you choose the right plants for your garden. Make certain that the packet bears a current date; seeds lose viability after a year. If you can't find your choices locally, use a mail-order source.

Soil Preparation
Once you've selected the seeds, prepare the soil. Kill any weeds or grasses by digging them or spraying with a nonselective herbicide. Use a shovel to turn the soil in a small bed. Large areas should be tilled. If you don't own a tiller, rent one from a garden center. Organic matter, such as sphagnum peat moss, should be mixed into sandy or clay soils. Avoid tilling when the ground is wet--it's best to till when the soil is slightly moist and crumbly. Once the dirt is loose, use a hard rake to smooth the surface and remove any rocks or roots.

 

Sowing Seeds
Scatter seeds by hand for a small bed; large areas may require a seed spreader. Distribute the seeds evenly.

Moisture is needed for germination, so water frequently the first couple of weeks, keeping the garden soil damp. Begin feeding with 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer at half strength when seedlings first appear. To keep your plants healthy, feed once a month with a full-strength solution after the first true leaves appear.

If some areas come up sparse, transplant seedlings from thicker areas. Use a hand trowel to move small plants. Scoop under them deep enough to avoid disturbing their roots. Never pick up the delicate seedlings by their stems. Water immediately after transplanting.

While They're Growing
Pull weeds at first sight. They are unwanted guests that will rob your plants of water and nutrients. Also watch for any pests.

As your plants mature and begin to bloom, sit back and enjoy this gardening adventure. The little seeds turn into beautiful flowers, allowing you to witness one of Mother Nature's many miracles.

Easy Flowers From Seed

  • bachelor's buttons  
  • cleome  
  • cosmos  
  • hollyhocks  
  • poppies  
  • zinnias  
  • daisies  
  • coneflowers  
  • sunflowers  
  • Mexican sunflowers  
  • marigolds