10 Easy Flowers to Start From Seed in Your Garden

orange marigolds glow in sun with green yard in background

Treehugger / Autumn Wood

Growing flowers from seed is slightly more challenging than growing from bulbs—because bulbs contain a plant's entire life cycle whereas seeds are more like embryos—but seeds can provide blooms that last throughout the summer versus bulb flowers, blooming only briefly in the spring. Flowers like marigolds, cosmos, and zinnias are deemed easy to grow because they're not overly particular about temperature, can be planted in shallow soil, self-seed, are quick to sprout, and can survive with little water. Another bonus, growing flowers from seed is cheaper than purchasing already-sprouted plants.

These 10 flowers make growing from seed look easy.


Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

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Sunflower (Helianthus)

Sunflower with other flowers out of focus

Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

Perhaps the easiest way to bring big impact to your garden is with sunflowers, which can be sowed in large pots (ideal for cuttings) or directly into the ground. These annuals are best planted in soil that's between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination occurs when the soil is 70 to 85 degrees, so seeds should be dropped in an inch below the surface just before it reaches that temperature.

Although they do require brightness, sunflowers are low-maintenance once planted. Simply water weekly—up to an inch, depending on rainfall—and watch them grow to be five to 10 feet tall.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Loose and well-draining.
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Marigold (Tagetes)

Pom-pomlike orange marigold blooms in a garden
Raung Binaia / Getty Images

Starting marigolds inside is almost pointless as they germinate so quickly outdoors. Once you sow them in the garden—no more than an inch deep and about an inch apart—they'll typically sprout within days and bloom in roughly eight weeks. While they need plenty of sunshine, they aren't too picky about soil.

Blooming brightly all summer long, their daisylike flower heads come in various tones of gold and brass. If you're growing marigolds to repel insects, choose an older variety rather than the newer hybrids. Most marigolds are annuals, but their tendency to self-seed makes them appear perennial.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun.
  • Soil Needs: Loamy or sandy, well-draining.
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Close-up of pink cosmos growing in a field
Eri Shimizu / EyeEm / Getty Images

Though dainty, cosmos are tough as nails, able to survive on little water even in hot and dry conditions. Drop them in just about any soil, a quarter-inch deep, and in seven weeks, their signature pink, orange, red, or yellow daisylike flowers will open and begin attracting pollinators. Another cool thing about these pretty annuals? They're edible. Pluck off the colorful blooms and add them to summer salads as a garnish.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Loamy.
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Nasturtium (Tropaeolum)

Single red nasturtium surrounded by its signature round leaves

Jacky Parker Photography / Getty Images

Nasturtiums are a great beginner-level flower that can easily be grown from seed both in containers or in the ground. These annuals start to appear just seven to 10 days after sowing. Usually, you won't need to add any extra fertilizer, and they're not picky about soil.

Nasturtiums have interesting round green leaves that complement their fragrant orange, red, yellow, and white blooms. Almost the entire plant is edible: The leaves, flowers, and seedpods have a peppery taste reminiscent of mustard.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy.
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Zinnias in all colors growing in pots outside
Chokniti Khongchum / EyeEm / Getty Images

Zinnias are quick to sprout (four to seven days) and germinate easily in containers, ideally four to six weeks before the final frost, or in the ground, when daytime temperatures reach at least 60 degrees. Plant the annual in almost any soil, a quarter-inch deep and at least six inches apart, for an explosion of elegantly tall and puffy-looking single, semidouble, or double flowers. There's also a wide variety of shapes to choose from, including the popular beehive, button, and cactus.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Loamy or sandy, lightly fertilized.
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Close-up of orange and yellow calendulas in a garden

Calendulas are easy to grow because they're exceedingly cold-tolerant—in fact, they should be planted a couple weeks before the last frost. Seeds sowed in warmer weather will result in smaller, weaker plants.

With stunning bright yellow to deep orange blooms, they're perfect for lining the edges of garden beds. Although annuals, calendulas often self-seed. Be sure to keep their soil slightly moist, and give them at least some shade if your area gets extra hot in summer. A popular variety is the pot marigold.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Ample organic matter, well-draining.
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Four O'Clocks (Mirabilis jalapa)

Pink and yellow four o'clock flowers in a garden
Photos from Japan, Asia and othe of the world / Getty Images

Blooming into small, fragrant flowers, four o'clocks are quite low maintenance and can be sown directly into your flower bed after the last frost. They're named for how they bud open in the afternoon from midsummer through fall. Four o'clocks prefer consistently moist soil, so make sure to keep them watered in any dry spells. They're annuals in most colder climates, but perennials in warmer ones.

Four o' clocks bloom in orange, pink, white, yellow, and magenta. Some individual plants even have multiple flower colors blooming all at once.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-draining.
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Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)

Dozens of pink moss rose blooms in a garden

magicflute002 / Getty Images

Low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, moss rose is also easy to grow: Just sow seeds an eighth of an inch deep after the last frost and be greeted by stunning white, red, and pink flowers in only a couple of weeks. They're easy to propagate from cuttings, too, and though annual, are known to self-seed, so you can enjoy their colorful blooms and succulent-esque leaves year after year.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy and dry, well-draining.
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Columbine (Aquilegia)

A single white and purple columbine in full bloom

Brenda Dobbs / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Layered and bonnetlike in their lovely and often bicolored blooms, columbines are especially hardy and able to thrive in most environments if planted in well-draining soil. With more than 70 species, these perennials range from light pastel tones to bright reds and oranges. Columbines bloom in spring and early summer with the added benefit of attracting the most appealing pollinators, birds and butterflies.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8.
  • Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun.
  • Soil Needs: Moderately moist, well-draining.
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Morning Glory (Ipomoea purpurea)

Close-up of a purple morning glory and green leaves
Antoni Medina . / 500px / Getty Images

After planting just a few seeds, you'll have vines of stunning morning glories climbing up walls, trellises, and arbors—adding a dimensional feeling to your garden. While they do take a long time (about 120 days) to blossom, these late-summer bloomers keep up the momentum after other flowers have passed their peak. Starting the seeds indoors about six weeks before the last frost will speed up the process. Morning glories grow as annuals in most USDA growing zones, but they're generally great self-seeders that come back season after season.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Moderately fertile, well-draining.

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.