Some annuals, perennials, herbs and houseplants can easily be grown from seeds, at a much more affordable cost than buying starter plants. Larger seeds for outdoor gardens can be directly planted outdoors, while tiny seeds and those that need extra time to mature should be started indoors. Outdoor garden beds need to be prepared and readied for seed planting, by breaking up the soil, removing rocks, and adding required additives and nutrients. Indoor planting also requires certain care, in the form of special seeding mixes and appropriate containers.
Echinacea is a perennial that is hardy even in very cold climates. The plant is easy to grow from seeds. Early spring is the best time to plant echinacea seeds that need to be sown directly outdoors. Plant the seeds 1/4-inch deep and 2 inches apart, and then thin to 18 inch apart when the seedlings are around an inch tall. Cover the seeds with a 1/8-inch layer of soil to help them germinate. Once they start growing, the plants need very little care and can grow to a height of 4 feet with flowers that are 4 to 6 inches across. The only thing to be careful about is too much moisture. Echinacea plants thrive in dry soil, under full sun to light shade. Also, Echinacea can suffer in the presence of weeds, so regular weeding is must.
Hollyhocks make a stately addition to flower gardens and can be easily grown from seeds. Hollyhock seeds are large and are best sown outdoors, just beneath the surface of moist soil enhanced with manure. Plants must be spaced 18 to 36 inches apart. Hollyhocks are best planted in the fall as they establish a strong root system during the winter. The plants thrive in full sun or very mild shade. Hollyhocks tend to grow to heights of up to 10 feet and are thus exposed to the force of strong winds. It is best to protect them with sturdy stakes. After the flowering season, the plants can be cut down to 6 to 8 inches height and the stumps covered with coal ashes. If looked after well, a hollyhock plant lasts for several years.
Marigolds are one of the quickest plants to go from seeds to flower-producing plants. They grow to a compact height of 14 to 16 inches. The best time to plant marigolds is once the possibility of frost has passed. Marigold seeds should ideally be sown in a sunny area that receives shade in the afternoon. If starting seeds indoors, sow the seeds a few weeks before the last expected frost, and transplant them once the last frost has passed. If planting directly outdoors, space them 4 to 6 inches apart and thin to a foot apart when they are around 8 inches tall. Marigolds germinate in between three days and two weeks. Marigolds need to be fertilized and watered regularly, as they are hungry and thirsty plants.
Sunflowers germinate quickly and are easy to grow from seeds. True to their name, they require a lot of sunlight--6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Soil preparation is critical for successfully growing sunflowers. Sow the seeds in loose soil at a depth of around 2 inches and spaced 2 feet apart, just after the last winter frost has passed. The seeds must be watered regularly until they reach a height of around 2 feet. After this, mix liquid fertilizer with water and water the plants. Domestic sunflower plants can grow to heights of 9 feet and should be protected with stakes to limit wind damage.