HomeDIY Craft25+ of the Best Annual Flowers to Start From Seed

25+ of the Best Annual Flowers to Start From Seed


Starting flowers from seed may not be as popular as vegetables, but they deserve a spot in your seed-starting tray this spring. By growing annuals from seed, you can have a garden full of colour, fragrance, and pollinators at a fraction of the price. Here are the best annual flowers to start from seed.

annuals from seed to plant in your garden

Seed starting season is here, and I’ve got more than vegetables and herbs on my mind. Annual flowers are a beautiful way to add quick pops of colour to gardening beds, containers, and baskets.

While just a pack or two of annuals doesn’t cost much, their price can quickly add up if you have multiple pots or spaces to fill. But growing flowers from seed isn’t as difficult as you may think.

The trick is to know which annuals from seed to grow. I have a bunch of recommendations for you, including those that are quick to grow, those that can be directly sown, and those that can get started indoors.

Let’s get into my recommendations!

growing flowers from seed
Begonia ‘Unbelievable Miss Montreal’

Fast Growing Flower Seeds

If you have a short growing season, are getting a late start, or simply want some quick-blooming flowers, these annuals from seeds are some of the quickest and easiest to grow.

Sweet Alyssum

Lobularia maritima

Days to maturity: 8 weeks

Timing: direct sow just before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: cover crop and filler flower, attracts beneficial insects, sweet-smelling flowers.

Calendula

Calendula officinalis

Days to maturity: 6-8 weeks

Timing: direct sow in early spring when there’s still light frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: medicinal flower great for skincare, bright orange in colour, edible petals.

calendula - annuals from seed

Nasturtium

Tropaeolum spp.

Days to maturity: 4-6 weeks

Timing: direct sow one week after last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: vining plant, edible flowers, drought tolerant, companion plant.

nasturtium - seed starting flowers

Sweet Pea

Lathyrus odoratus

Days to maturity: 7-9 weeks

Timing: direct sow when light frost is a possibility

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: vining plant, sweet fragrance, array of colours available.

Marigold

Tagetes spp.

Days to maturity: 8 weeks

Timing: direct sow two weeks before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: drought resistant, companion plant, fast-growing, bright orange blooms.

gardening bed with marigolds, borage, calendula

Portulaca

Portulaca grandiflora

Days to maturity: 6-7 weeks

Timing: direct sow after the threat of frost has passed

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: annual succulent, bright flowers that grow in clusters, toxic to cats and dogs.

Zinnia

Zinnia elegans

Days to maturity: 8 weeks

Timing: Direct sow after last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: vibrant colours, perennial in temperate areas, cutting flower.

red zinnia flowers - growing flowers from seed

Petunia

Petunia spp.

Days to maturity: 6-8 weeks

Timing: start indoors 10-12 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: great in containers and baskets, lots of variety in colour and flower types, fast-growing.

Purple petunias in a hanging basket - annuals from seed

Annuals From Seed to Direct Sow

Many annual flowers can easily be started from seed and enjoyed that same year. Sow these flowers directly in your garden outdoors in the spring and watch them bloom in no time!

Spider Flower

Cleome spp.

Days to maturity: 10-11 weeks

Timing: direct sow 3-4 weeks after last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: exotic looking flowers, attracts beneficial insects and hummingbirds.

Purple Hyacinth Bean

Lablab purpureus

Days to maturity: 12-13 weeks

Timing: direct sow after the danger of frost has passed

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: vining plant, fast growth, showy seed pods.

Cornflower

Centaurea cyanus

Days to maturity: 10 weeks

Timing: direct sow just before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: papery blooms, cut flower, attracts pollinators.

array of coloured picked cornflowers - growing flowers from seed

Cosmos

Cosmos bipinnatus

Days to maturity: 8-11 weeks

Timing: Direct sow after the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: attracts pollinators, cottage flower, daisy-like blooms.

Sunflower

Helianthus annuus

Days to maturity: 10-13 weeks

Timing: direct sow after last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: tall flower great for borders, many varieties available, cut flower.

double sunflowers - seed starting flowers

Love-in-a-Mist

Nigella damascena

Days to maturity: 12-13 weeks

Timing: direct sow 1-2 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: hardy, lacy foliage, cut flower, seed heads used in dried flower arrangements.

Nigella growing in front of lavender - growing flowers from seed

Phlox

Phlox drummondii

Days to maturity: 7-9 weeks

Timing: direct sow once the ground is workable.

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: great for containers, variety of colours, very low maintenance.

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

Days to maturity: 8-12 weeks

Timing: direct sow after the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: drought tolerant, self-sow, bright orange colour.

California poppy - annuals from seed

Borage

Borago officinalis

Days to maturity: 8 weeks

Timing: direct sow after the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: edible flower, drought tolerant, companion plant, attracts pollinators.

borage flower - seed starting flowers

Annuals From Seed to Start Indoors

Here are some other great annuals from seed to start indoors before the growing season. They have longer growing times to reach maturity and need a head start indoors.

Ageratum

Ageratum houstonianum

Days to maturity: 8-10 weeks

Timing: begin indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: looks good in mass plantings, long bloom period, unique blue colour.

Scabiosa

Scabiosa spp.

Days to maturity: 13-14 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 4-5 weeks before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: attract pollinators and hummingbirds, cut flower, long bloom time.

Scabiosa stallata - growing flowers from seed
Scabiosa stallata

Vinca

Catharanthus roseus

Days to maturity: 12 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: fast-growing, drought tolerant, toxic to animals and people.

Celosia

Celosia plumosa

Days to maturity: 12-16 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun or partial shade

Traits: wide range of bright colours, heat tolerant, cutting flower.

orange celosia annual grown from seed
Celosia cristata ‘Twisted Orange’

Impatiens

Impatiens spp.

Days to maturity: 12 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: partial to full shade

Traits: shade lover, bedding plant, prolific bloomer, large range of colours.

Salvia

Salvia longispicata

Bloom time: early summer

Timing: start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: attracts bees, great container plant, deer and rabbit resistant.

Salvia 'Sally Fun' - annuals from seed
Salvia ‘Sally Fun’

Verbena

Verbena x hybrida

Days to maturity: 13 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 12-14 weeks before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun

Traits: fast-growing, long bloom time, some varieties are toxic to pets.

Begonia

Begonia spp.

Days to maturity: 12-15 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 12 weeks before the last frost

Sunlight requirements: Partial sun to full shade

Traits: shade lover, low maintenance, long bloom time.

begonias -growing flowers from seed
Begonia ‘Megawatt’

Geranium

Pelargonium spp.

Days to maturity: 16-20 weeks

Timing: Start seeds indoors 10 weeks before the last frost date

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: great container and bedding plant, long bloom period, lightly scented, mildly toxic to pets.

Regal geranium - annuals from seed
Regal geranium

Lobelia

Lobelia erinus

Days to maturity: 12-16 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting outside to temperatures of 10 °C or warmer

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: trailing plant, available in true blue and other colours, attracts pollinators.

Close up of blue and white lobelia in a black pot

Pansy

Viola tricolor var. hortensis

Days to maturity: 12 weeks

Timing: start seeds 10-12 weeks indoors before last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: edible flower, variety of colours available, cold tolerant and hardy.

pansies growing in shade

Snapdragons

Antirrhinum majus

Days to maturity: 8-12 weeks

Timing: start seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before planting after last frost

Sunlight requirements: full sun to partial shade

Traits: available in a wide range of colours, cutting flower.

orange snapdragon flowers - seed starting flowers

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Flowers From Seed

What is the best time to plant flower seeds?

Some annuals from seed require cold stratification to grow. This means it’s typically best to plant them while there is still a chance of frost or in autumn.

Otherwise, most seeds are best planted after the threat of frost has passed or started indoors. Most seed packets will tell you when to start the seeds. For an early start, many gardeners can begin starting seeds 6-8 weeks before the last frost.

How do you start a flower from a seed?

When seed-starting flowers indoors, you’ll want a good quality seed-starting soil mix. You can use many household items as seed starting containers, such as egg cartons or toilet paper tubes.

Moisture is necessary for the seeds to germinate. Keeping the soil damp with a greenhouse dome on top will keep the environment humid. Once the seeds have germinated, they will need lots of sunlight either from a sunny windowsill or a grow light.

For more detailed information on starting seeds indoors, view this post.

What are the easiest flowers to grow from seed?

If you’re looking for easy, then look for annuals from seed that you can directly sow. Beyond supplemental watering and the usual thinning, they should require less maintenance compared to those that need to be started indoors. If you’re a beginner, avoid starting perennials from seed.

Should I sow flower seeds directly?

Direct sowing is the easiest way to grow flowers from seed, but not all flowers are well suited for it. Avoid direct sowing if the seed requires high soil temperatures to germinate or requires a long time to reach maturity.

On the other hand, some flowers don’t like to be transplanted and are best to be only directly sown. Most seed packets should advise on whether or not to direct sow or begin seeds indoors.

yellow costa calendula grown from seed
Calendula Costa Mix

More Flowers to Add to Your Garden



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