There is no better group of flower seeds to try your hand at sowing in the garden than those cool-season hardy annuals that we call Cool Flowers. Many of them are really easy to get started when planted outdoors in the cool and moist conditions of fall.
First, not all seeds like to be planted out in the garden, some prefer to be started indoors. The Cool Flower seeds I have the most success planting directly in the garden are:
- Bells of Ireland
- Bachelor Buttons
- White Lace Flower
- Love in a Mist
- Corn Cockle
Check the listings in my book Cool Flowers for which flowers survive your winter conditions. For those flowers that will survive your winter plant the seeds 6-8 weeks before your first expected fall frost. (See Cool Flowers page 138 for my quick reference list of winter survival zones and page 137 to find your winter hardiness zone.)
Seeds germinate best when the days are still warm–not hot, and nighttime temperatures are cooling off. If planted too early into the heat, germination will be delayed. This delay allows weeds to outgrow potential flower seedlings and other troubles can occur like birds eating the seed.
Prepare or disturb the soil immediately before planting the seed. This disrupts the developing–yet unseen weed seeds that are also trying to sprout. This levels the playing field between the flower and weed seeds.
Follow directions on whether the seed should be covered with soil or not (listed for each featured flower on their profile page in Cool Flowers.) Covering means the seed needs darkness to sprout. Not covering means it needs light to sprout.
Seeds need moisture to be able to sprout and break through the shell of the seed. Consistent moisture leads to more and quicker germination. Row cover will help to retain moisture and decrease the number of watering needed and protect seeds from birds.
Keep the seedbed free from weeds with weekly hoeing until the seedlings are large enough to be mulched. I keep my fall-planted beds covered through winter to give added protection from the cold wind, deer, and rabbits.
Timing, moisture, and protecting the seeds are the keys to easy seed sowing in the garden. Enjoy!