For years I ran a small but successful backyard nursery where I grew thousands of perennials from seed. During those years I experimented with growing a lot of different perennials using several different seed starting methods. After a lot of experimenting I narrowed down the Best Perennials to Grow from Seed using my 2 go to methods: Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs, and Starting Seeds Indoors. Take a look at the list below of my favorite perennials to grow using these methods:
Best Perennials to Grow from Seed
1. Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
Black Eyed Susans are the poster child of late summer blooms. They display brightly colored yellow to golden blooms that pollinators love. They are easy to grow and don’t require much care. They are also very versatile and can be used in landscape beds or in more of a wildflower type setting. They range between 1-3 feet tall and can thrive in so many regions (zone 3-9) depending on the variety.
Many seed varieties require a cold stratification period for germination so this makes Black Eyed Susan a great candidate for Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs. This is my preferred method growing Black Eyed Susan.
Coneflower (Echinacea) are flowering perennials in the daisy family. They are a tough and withstand periods of heat and drought. They are also native to the the United States. For centuries, coneflower has been used as an herbal remedy for sore throats, colds, and flus.
Coneflowers can range from 2-5 feet tall depending on the variety. Their flower blooms are typically purple but other varieties can have white, pink, purple, orange, red, green, or yellow blooms.
While a cold stratification period is not required for seed germination, it does help yield better germination rates. That’s why using the Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs method is ideal for growing coneflower from seed.
Delphiniums are short lived perennials (2-3 years) that are easy to grow from seed. Their are several different varieties that vary in height, but they can get as tall as 6 feet. Flower blooms are long and beautiful and are mostly blue or violet, but other varieties have white, pink, or red blooms.
Delphiniums are very hardy and easy to grow from seed. I’ve grown hundreds of Delphiniums using the Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs method. You can also direct sow the seeds 1/8” deep directly in your garden beds in spring.
Dianthus, also called ‘Pinks’, or ‘Sweet William’ are small, sun loving perennials that are in the same family as Carnations. They have beautiful, fragrant flowers that smell spicy, or cinnamon like. Dianthus can be considered a perennial, annual, or biennial depending on variety and growing zone.
Dianthus can be grown from seed using the Starting Seeds Indoors growing method. Sow Dianthus seeds indoors, 8-10 weeks before moving outside.
So many things to love about these short lived perennials/biennials.
Because of their height (3′-4′), and upright growing habit, they make a great addition to the back of perennial garden beds. Their beautiful blooms attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.
Hollyhocks have so many different varieties, each with very different flowers.
Hollyhocks have large seeds and are easy to grow using the Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs method. You can also sow them directly in the soil in spring, 1/4” deep.
6. Garden Phlox
Garden Phlox is a popular perennial that has been in gardens for over 100 years. It has beautiful clusters of trumpet shaped flowers that bloom throughout the summer. They make a great cut flower and are often used in floral arrangements.
Their fragrant blossoms attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Coreopsis, also known as Tickseed, is a low maintenance perennial that is a reliable bloomer throughout the summer. Flowers are usually some form of yellow with a rigid tooth shape. To maximize flower production pinch off spent blooms.
Coreopsis can grow in a wide range of soil conditions and can tolerate full sun and drought conditions.
8. Coral Bells
Coral Bells is a hardy perennial with both beautiful flowers and foliage. They have varying appearances depending on the variety. ‘Palace Purple’ is a common variety that can add beautiful red foliage to shade gardens. Check out some popular varieties: Coral Bells.
Coral Bells is easy to grow and a great choice for cold climates since they can tolerate cold winters. They can even be considered semi evergreen and their leaves can sometimes retain color throughout the winter
Start Seeds Indoors 8 weeks before last frost date.
Nepeta (Flowering Catmint) is a very durable perennial that is easy to grow. Nepeta produces tons of flower blooms throughout the summer. This is one of the most persistent bloomers of all perennials. Blooms are usually purple, blue, or violet but some varieties can be white.
Winter Sowing In Milk Jugs is an easy and effective way to grow Nepeta from seed.
Yarrow is a tall, very easy to care for perennial with fern like foliage. Their flowers have a pleasant aroma and are great in cut flower arrangements.
Yarrow can tolerate dry soil and heat. They require little maintenance and can be seen in wildflower mixes.
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