If you're just starting out gardening you might be overwhelmed by all the choices you have. Before even perusing the plant catalogs, find out what hardiness zone you live in. No sense planting a frost tender hibiscus if your winter temperatures regularly fall below freezing. Annuals are easy to grow from seeds.
Cool Season Annual Flowers
Annuals are plants that propagate by seed and live for only one season. Annuals like larkspur, zinnias and marigold self-seed so prolifically that they seem to return year after year. However, these are all new plants popping up in the garden.
Cool season flowers prefer cooler temperatures and stop blooming and start to die off when summer temperatures rise. Sweet peas are very easy to grow. They take a week to 10 days to germinate and six to eight weeks to start blooming but when they do start, they put on quite a flower show. The blossoms are sweetly scented and come in a range of pastel colors, medium pink and medium purple. Nasturtiums are another easy to grow cool season flower. The leaves are oval shaped and in certain varieties can become quite large. The flowers are edible and have a peppery flavor. Colors include orange, yellow, red and pink. Pansies will keep blooming even through light frosts. Start them inside by seed and put them in the garden as soon as the ground can be worked. Larkspur is a cool season flower, grows from 4 to 5 feet high with feathery leaves and loads of small flowers in pinks, blues, purple and white on spikes.
Warm Season Flowers
Warm weather flowers include zinnias, which range from tiny plants no more than 6 inches high with flowers the size of a quarter, to plants 3 to 4 feet high and flowers 4 inches across. Plant zinnia seeds where you want them in the garden. They don't like to be transplanted. Sunflowers are almost never-fail flowers. The huge variety, up to 12 feet high, is grown primarily commercially for its seeds. Garden varieties include small sunflowers up to 3 feet high to big sunflowers 8 feet high.
Bulbs are almost fool-proof for the first spring or summer after planting. The plant and flower are in an embryonic state within the bulb. They don't need much of anything but sunlight to bloom that first year. Spring bulbs include crocus, freesia, tulips and daffodils. Summer bulbs include lilies and gladiolus. Keep the bulbs blooming the next year by watering and feeding the plant after it blooms up until the leaves turn yellow and fade.
Perennials are plants that come back year after year. They grow, bloom and then die back in the fall to reappear in the spring again. Foxglove, delphiniums and Shasta daisies are all easy to grow perennials. If you plant by seed, you won't get flowers the first year but you will for several years thereafter. Roses are perennials as well. If you select a variety that does well in your geographic area and is a disease-resistant variety, roses are not difficult to grow. The extra effort is well worth it.