The variety of flower seeds available online, in stores, and through catalogs can be overwhelming for a novice gardener to choose from. Individual seed packets are inexpensive and make it tempting to buy almost everything. Not all seeds are created equal, however. Some are easy to grow, others are more difficult, and some are next to impossible for all but the most experienced gardener.
These cheery blooms of yellow and gold, with variations of reds and rust, range in height from 6 inches to 3 feet or more, depending on variety. Some make flowers more than 3 inches across. Plant them in warm, moist soil about 1/8 inch deep and keep the soil moist. The first sprouts will appear in 6 to 14 days and the shorter varieties bloom in as little as 6 weeks. Keep the soil just moist and let the new seedlings grow. Over watering the seedlings can cause "damping off," in which case the stems rot.
The sunflower produces a large flower on top of a sturdy stalk that may be 3 to 12 feet tall. As the head matures, it produces numerous seeds loved by birds and people alike. The sunflower is easy to grow. Plant the seeds about a 1/4 inch down and cover them. Keep the soil moist and the first plants will begin appearing in 10 to 14 days. Sunflowers like lots of sun and will grow quickly if kept fed and watered.
These somewhat hardy annuals are popular as a cut flower in stores. Carnations grow 18 to 21 inches tall. For those anxious to get started in the spring, these are just the plants. Sow the seeds early, about 2 weeks before the danger of frost has passed. Barely cover the seeds with soil. Seedlings show in 5 to 21 days if the soil is kept moist. Pinch the plant tops to encourage bushy growth, and cut the dead flowers frequently to keep the plants blooming.
Buy a packet of Aster seeds and save them for the fall. As you clean the frost bitten plants from summer away, plant the aster seeds and mark their locations so you don't disturb them in the spring. They may begin growing if the winter is mild, or wait until spring to sprout if it is not. Feed them twice over the summer and prune them on occasion to encourage bushy growth. They will flower the first year, sometime in late summer or early fall. These hardy perennials will grow back year after year and, after the first year, they will bloom from mid-summer into fall.
The norther climate is favored by the hardy tulips, daffodils, crocuses and muscari. Plant these bulbs in mid-fall according to the directions, and enjoy flowers the following spring and every spring thereafter. By selecting from early to late varieties, the spring bulb garden can last up to 2 months, while slower blooming perennials fill in.