It is possible to have a beautiful flower garden without having to spend a lot of money. One of the best tricks to saving money is to buy seeds, rather than plants. A package of seeds usually costs less than $2.00 and gives you many flowers whereas a plant will often cost between $3-6 and yield only a few flowers. Popular seed packs are varieties of wildflowers, poppies, and Lupines.
And remember that perennials, like Lupines and wildflowers, once planted, should come back year after year (often in a greater number), meaning that fewer flowering plants will have to be bought with each year, and additional money can thereby be saved.
Here are three types of flowers that are relatively easy to plant in the form of seeds, and can grow to make a garden even more lovely, without being too expensive:
- Color – Great variety of color, from deep yellows to blues to pastel purples and much more. There are many different types of wildflowers, not just one. Many wildflower seed packets are mix of multiple flowers, including Alpine Aster (Aster alpinus), Corn Marigold (Chrisanthemum segetum), Lupine (Lupinus perennis), Showy Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa), Blue Flax (Linum perenne lewisii), Dense Blazingstar (Liatris spicata), Yellow Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnaris), and/or others.
- Types – there are wildflower mixes full of seeds specifically for partial shade or sunny areas. Some mixes have flowers that are low growing. Look for a mix that contains some annuals – annuals help ward off weeds until the perennials become established.
- Height – 2-4 feet
- Planting depth – ¼ inch
- When to plant – sow the seeds in the early spring. In frost-free areas, however, the seeds can be sown fall to spring.
- Where to plant – Place them in a sunny, prepared, weed-free seed bad.
- Bloom time – most will bloom the second year after sowing.
- Zones – 4-8
- Planting – Scatter the seeds evenly. Cover with ¼ inch of fine soil. Keep the soil moist.
- Seedlings – These will emerge within 7-21 days. Be sure to pull out weeds until the plants have become well established.
Lupines (Lupinus polyphyllus)
Native to California and British Columbia, these work well in a back border for either cutting or naturalizing. The plant grows upright spikes full of small, pea-like flowers.
- Color – Mostly light lavenders to deep purples and blues, the Russell Hybrids include lupines of many colors, ranging from yellows to pinks to reds to purples and many bicolors.
- Height – up to 3 feet
- Planting depth – ¼ inch
- When to plant – Early summer
- Where to plant – This flower can flourish in sun to partial shade
- Bloom time – Lupines bloom during May and June
- Zones – Does alright in zone 3, but best in zones 4-7. Prefers cool weather.
- Planting – Nick the seeds and soak them overnight to aid in germination. The seeds should be thinly sowed, just ¼ inch deep during the early summer, in rows 6” apart. Plant in a shady border or a cold frame (this will not be their permanent location). Keep the soil moist, and protect the area from the sun.
- Seedlings – After just 14-28 days, the seedlings should emerge (both the soil and weather conditions can affect this time frame, though). Once the plants are large enough to handle, the seedlings can be transplanted to a shady border, planted 8” apart. Be sure to transplant them very carefully – the long tap root should not be broken.
- Final planting – Come fall, you should place them in their permanent location, in a partially shady or sunny location. The best soil is slightly acidic and well-drained. Give the plants a 2” circumference apart. In a climate with severe winters, it is best to cover the plants with straw to protect them.
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
These bright flowers make great fillers in both beds and containers.
- Annual (but in mild climates, can be a perennial)
- Color – Bright oranges, yellows, light pinks, light yellows, reds… From creamy colors to bright colors
- Height – 12 inches
- Planting depth – ¼ inch
- When to plant – After danger of a heavy frost is gone.
- Where to plant – In a sunny area, in basic garden soil.
- Bloom time – Spring into summer, especially in cool weather.
- Planting – Sow thinly and keep in 1 foot apart rows (sow the seeds where they are meant to grow permanently – no transplanting required). Cover with ¼ inch fine soil. Keep the soil evenly moist and slightly firm.
- Seedlings – They will emerge in 10-14 days.
- Notes – They do not transplant well. They prefer cool weather.
You can buy seed packets from most gardening supply stores, as well as from catalogs and online stores. Check out Burpee Seeds for some seed options.
Before planting, be sure to pay attention to the specific heights of the flowers, and consider where they will look best. Garden planning is very important. Tall flowers should not be planted in front of smaller ones, thereby shielding the small ones from sight (and sunlight). Consider also when the flowers will bloom – mix flowers that bloom in the early summer with those that bloom in late summer. Keep color in all areas of the garden from spring to fall.