Easy to grow flowers - CornflowerIf you are taking your first steps as a gardener, you don’t want to be weighed down by lots of potting shed jargon. You don’t want to be over-burdened with complicated planting procedures. It would be far easier to sow and reap the rewards of a garden full of colour and splendour.

The following list of flowering plants contains some of the easier varieties that you can grow from seed. Most of them are annual (will last a single season), but will produce a lifetime worth of colour and in double time.

Many of these ‘easy to grow’ flower varieties can be sown directly into the grow where they are to flower. You may need to ‘thin’ them out – that is, remove some of the seedlings to allow others more space to grow. In some cases, the thinnings can be planted elsewhere for even more colour.

Easy grow varieties to try from seed

1. Nasturtium

Flower Type: Fast growing hardy annual Creeper.
These long-flowering vigorous climbing plants look spectacular when trained over walls, fences and hedges. They lack tendrils, but will scramble happily over trellis work, sheds, fences etc. Flowers summer-autumn. Sow outdoors, where they are to flower after the risk of frost has past. The leaves taste like watercress, the flowers add a spicy touch to salads and the green seeds can be chopped and used with parsley as a garnish or made into a substitute for capers.

2. Virginia Stock

Flower Type: Fast growing annual for borders.
In just 4 weeks from sowing, you will have sweet-scented flowers of pink, white and lavender. A bright and colourful mixture of one of the easiest grown and hardiest of all dwarf annuals. An infallible standby for edges and borders coming very quickly into bloom. Flowers summer. Sow in spring outdoors where they are to flower. Seed sown in the autumn will flower in the following spring.

3. English Marigold

Flower Type: Annual for borders and containers
Large, frilled flowers in unusual shades ranging through apricot, orange, primrose and cream. Very easy to grow, providing a good show of flowers even in the poorest soils and splendid for cutting. Flowers all summer. The petals have been used as a substitute for saffron, can be made into soup, added to rice puddings, omelets, seafood chowders and they make a bright and zesty addition to tossed salads.

4. Bellflower

Flower Type: Perennial for borders and rock gardens
Dainty rockery, patio and wall campanulas. Neat mounds always smothered in bloom. They are sun lovers and are easily grown in ordinary free draining soil. Flowers summer. Sow late winter to mid spring or autumn. Prefers in a sunny and ordinary well drained soil.

5. Pansies & Violas

Flower Type: Perennial for borders and containers.
They resist both heat and cold and are earlier flowering than other varieties in this class carrying blooms up to 10 cm (4″) across in a wide and iridescent range of colours. Sow late winter/spring or late summer. The petals make a colourful addition to green salads and can be candied to top desserts etc.

6. Forget-me-not

Flower Type: Biennial for borders
Essential spring bedding plants. Forget-me-nots are usually blue, but also found here in pink and white, and all on dwarf, compact plants! A fantastic accessory to spring beds and borders, complementing golden Daffodils and Tulips. Sow May to June. Prefers any ordinary, well-drained soil in sun or part shade.

7. Snapdragon

Flower Type: Biennial border flower
Long, tall flower spikes, with a strong, upright habit in a magnificent formula mixture of stunning colours. Ideal for adding height to borders or as a long lasting cut flower. Sow January to March on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. For best results, provide a light, well-drained soil in full sun.

8. Sunflower – ‘Companions’

Flower Type: Annual border flower

Helianthus annuus Claret F1 Hybrid: An exquisite chocolate-brown Sunflower with a gorgeous metallic sheen to the bloom. The mid-height habit of this gorgeous gem makes Claret the ideal addition to your borders this summer. Highly recommended. The green buds before the flower opens are delicious cooked in butter sauce and the seeds make a tasty snack. Write to us for a free leaflet with recipes for a wide range of edible flowers.

Helianthus debilis Key Lime Pie: Attractive clusters of small flowers each with primrose-cream petals, surrounding an unusual lime-green centre disk. En-masse, this mouthwatering combination looks great in borders or as a cut flower. Gorgeous companion for Claret.

9. Cosmos

Flower Type: Annual border flower
Semi-double and single, large, waved, upright blooms distinct and charming. 80% true from seed as they can make fine cut flowers and can also be used as summer flowering pot plants for the cold greenhouse. Flowers summer to autumn. Height 36″. Sow in Spring.

10. Cornflower

Flower Type: Annual border flower
Very popular and easily grown plants which prefer well-drained soils. Suitable for beds, borders and cut flowers. Flowers summer. Height: 30″.

11. Black Eyed Susan

Flower Type: Biennial border flower
Unlike many other varieties that only have an odd red bloom, with a high proportion of salmon, Blushing Susie is predominantly red, with other shades of ivory and apricot adding contrast. Spectacular when used tumbling over containers, twining around basket chains or climbing obelisks in the garden or containers. Sowing Time: February to April. For best results, provide a light, well-drained soil in full sun. Can also be grown in 25-30 cm (10-12″) containers in the greenhouse or conservatory. Additionally, a mid-summer sowing will produce winter/spring flowering plants in the cool greenhouse.

12. Evening Primrose

Flower Type: Biennial border flower
A delectable back of border plant, at whatever stage the flower is at! Tightly scrolled buds open to 7 cm (3″) in palest lemon, maturing to yellow, apricot and finally salmon-pink. The delicately scented blooms are at their best in the evening. Height: 60-100 cm (24-40″). Germinate February to May. Plant outside after all risk of frost

13. Sweet William

Flower Type: Biennial border flower
Rich colours and a tantalising fragrance are the areas in which this splendid variety excels. Plant them around your garden for a late spring reminder that ‘summers not far away¹. Perfect for bedding and borders. Prefers rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Seeds can also be sown outdoors where they are to flower. They will grow in most soils and grow equally well in full sun or part shade. The petals add zest to ice cream, sorbets, salads, fruit salad, dessert sauces, seafood stir-fry dishes.

14. Poppy

Flower Type: Biennial border flower
A charming relative of the cornfield poppy producing shining crimson single blooms with a black blotch. Easy and cheerful. Brought from Russia in 1876. Sow early spring to early summer outdoors where they are to flower. They prefer a hot sunny open site and free drained soil, but will grow in most sites and soils. Remove seed pods before the seeds are shed if you do not wish them to self-seed.

15. Nigella

Flower Type: Annual border flower
Lovely blue, white or pink star-like flowers, carried above a mist of fine green leaves. A prolific self-seeder. Once you have planted this summer-time beauty, it will be popping up all over the garden for many years to come. The flowers are followed by very decorative seed pods.

Easy to grow flowers in pots

Which of these varieties work well in pots and tubs? You might want to try the following: Pansies and Violas, English Marigolds, Cosmos and Snapdragons.

Fast growing flowers from seed

In a bit of a hurry to amass some colour in your garden? Try growing Virginia Stock, Poppies, Nigella, Californian Poppy, Coreopsis, Night Scented Stock, Nasturtiums, Alyssum, Poached Egg Plant, Linum, African Daisy, Candytuft, Malope and Godetia.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

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