How to Plant Perennial Seed Flowers


The wise gardener plants perennial flowers. These reliable bloomers grow each year and often increase in size, providing more plants by division. Perennials grown from seed are a bit more challenging than propagation by division because many of them grow plants that need a year or two to become established. Seeds, however, offer the challenge of creating your own hybrids from cross-pollination of different plants. Perennial seeds have many similar requirements, but they also have a few individual needs.

Step 1

Buy only fresh seed; packets should be marked for use in the current year. Seed harvested by hand from garden plants in fall should be used the following season. The directions should tell you whether the seeds should be planted in summer through fall or can be started indoors in late winter for spring planting.

Step 2

Follow directions with regard to scarification and stratification. Scarify by scraping on a screen, nicking with a paring knife or soaking overnight in a solution of weak tea. Stratify by storing in moist sand, peat moss or a paper towel in a plastic bag in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.

Step 3

Plant perennial seeds inside or in the garden, according to directions. Plant seeds in pots inside in sterile medium like vermiculite or commercial potting soil. Create rows in outside gardens and fill them with the same potting soil so that soil does not harden above the seedlings. Surround the outdoor "nursery" with a simple frame of 1-by-4-inch boards and top with a window screen that can be removed on sunny days.

Step 4

Place most seeds as deep in the soil or planting medium as one to one-and-a-half times their diameter and cover lightly. Some seeds need more light to germinate and need not be covered.

Step 5

Keep the soil moist and warm; the top of a refrigerator provides "bottom heat" for germinating seeds and seedlings indoors. Use a spray bottle of water to keep plants and soil moist.

Step 6

Thin multiple seedlings to leave the largest, strongest one in the pot or garden row. Transplant in spring after all chance of frost has passed or move the plants to their permanent home in late summer or early fall. Water the plants thoroughly when transplanting. Thereafter, they should get a total of 1 inch of water (including rain) each week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't use potting soil that contains fertilizer. Your seed contains enough nutrients to nourish the seedling until it develops its first "true" leaves. Fertilizer will burn the seedling. Never allow potting medium to become soggy or seedlings to sit in water; it will rot their roots or allow mold to form that will overpower the tender shoots.

Things You'll Need

  • Seeds
  • Screen, paring knife or teabag
  • Paper towels
  • Sand or peat moss (optional)
  • Plastic bags
  • Refrigerator
  • Sterile growing medium
  • Pots (indoors)
  • 1-by-4-inch boards (outdoors)
  • Small window screen (outdoors)
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Watering can


  • Tom Clothier's Garden Walk and Talk
  • Planting Seeds

Who Can Help

  • Starting Perennials
  • Starting Perennials from Seed
  • National Garden Association Plant Care Guides
Keywords: plant perennials, perennial seeds, propagation

About this Author

Chicago native Laura Reynolds has been writing for 40 years. She attended American University (D.C.), Northern Illinois University and University of Illinois Chicago and has a B.S. in communications (theater). Originally a secondary school communications and history teacher, she's written one book and edited several others. She has 30 years of experience as a local official, including service as a municipal judge.