Basic Flower Seeds Complete Guide
Imagine a garden filled with yellow marigolds, bright red zinnias, and fragrant gardenias. They didn’t just appear out of nowhere! Someone took the time to carefully plant the seeds–which is where any beautiful garden begins.
People have been planting flower seeds for centuries, as flowers add color, texture, and life to the surrounding landscape. Flower seeds also have other uses. They can be edible or used in arts and crafts projects. Oil, such as found in the sunflower seed, can be extracted and used for cooking.
Different types of seed have specific handling requirements. Some can be sown directly in the ground, while others should be sown indoors. Some seeds grow fast and others grow slowly. And each seed type thrives in different conditions: warm or cool climates, arid or humid conditions, shade or full sun. Learning about the needs of each type of seed will help ensure a healthy life–and beautiful flowers.
What is a seed anyway?
Seeds are the mature ovules of a plant. A seed contains an embryo from which a new plant will grow under proper conditions. Seeds contain a supply of stored food and the genetic material that will cause it to grow similar to its parent plant. Seeds are produced in the ovary of a flower when pollination has taken place. Some flowers produce thousands of seeds, while others produce much fewer.
Types of seeds
Seeds are classified according to their bloom frequency, life span, and type of flower produced.
- Annual seeds, once planted, have a life span of one year. That means that they need to be replanted each year. Some annuals can reseed themselves in warmer climates. Examples of flowers that have annual seeds are Alyssum, marigolds, poppies, nasturtiums, zinnias, and morning glories.
- Perennials only need to be planted once, as flowers come back year after year. Most types of perennial seeds tend to be more expensive because of this. Examples of perennials include Black Eyed Susan, Hollyhocks, and Shasta Daisies.
- Biennials have a life span of two years. Typically, these flowers will grow during the first year and bloom in the second year. Examples include Forget-Me-Nots, Evening Primrose, and Sweet William.
When planting a flower garden, many opt to plant a mixture of annuals, perennials, and biennials.
Pay attention to the soil needs of each type of flower seed. Most flowers prefer rich, well-drained soil. Avoid planting flowers where there is standing water after rains. Please note, however, that some types of flowers grow well in boggy conditions or in poor soil, such as cornflower. On the other hand, some seeds only flourish in nutrient-rich soil.
Flower seeds also have different requirements when it comes to the depth in which they are planted. For example, sunflowers should be planted 1/4-inch in the soil, while zinnias should be planted 1/16-inch under the soil. Some kinds of seed can be placed right on top of the soil.
The correct spacing between seeds is also crucial. For example, allow 6-8 inches between pansies and 18 inches between all varieties of marigolds. Proper seed spacing ensures that your flowers aren’t too close together or too far apart.
Let there be light
The only thing as important as providing the right soil conditions for seeds is ensuring they receive the proper amount of light. Many flowers prefer a sunny location. Others, such as pansies, prefer part shade. If your flowers don’t get enough light they may fail to bloom. And if you place a shade-preferring flower in direct sunlight, it may wilt or become scorched.
Watering with H2O
Water breathes life into seeds. Just like people, flowers cannot live without proper amounts of water. Most types of flowers need to be watered regularly; however, some types of flowers prefer drier soil, while others prefer constant moisture.
There are many uses for flower seeds other than planting. Because of their variety of color, size, and shape, many find them useful in arts and crafts projects. Oftentimes, children use them in school projects. There are several edible seeds as well, such as the sunflower seed. Animals such as squirrels, chipmunks, and birds feast on them too.
Selecting the Right Flower Seeds
Flower gardens are the finishing touch on any yard. They add beauty, color, and fragrance to your home. In order for your flower garden to be a success, however, you need to select the right flower seeds for the area in which you live. There are numerous factors that help decide what seeds are and are not ideal for you.
Meeting your flowers’ climate needs
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could have a yard full of tropical flowers, such as orchids, birds of paradise, and hibiscus? Unfortunately, that’s not possible. Each type of flower seed has different climate needs.
One way to see if a particular variety of flower is well-suited to the area in which you live is to determine your location’s hardiness zone. The US hardiness zone, which ranges from 1 to 10, is defined by temperature, or the flower’s ability to withstand minimum temperatures of the zone. Most of Florida is in zone 9 or 10, while Alaska is in zone 4.
To give a concrete example, consider the following. Let’s say you want to grow pansies and petunias. Now, both pansies and petunias prefer cooler weather. If you live in Chicago, which is zone 6, these types of seeds can be planted in the spring. But if you live in Miami, zone 10, flower seeds will need to be planted in the fall.
Meeting your flowers’ soil needs
Another important factor in selecting the right seeds is assessing the native soil of your location. There are many different soil classifications, including well-drained, sandy, clay, acidic, light and heavy. For example, light soil has lower clay content than heavy soil. Light soils tend to drain better and become drier faster. They are easier to cultivate and maintain than heavy soil.
There are several ways to determine the makeup of your yard’s soil. The most common way is to do a soil profile, in which you take samples of soil from different areas in your yard. Soil at different depths should be excavated, including an area that is a few inches deep up to 10 inches deep. These can be then sent to a lab, where the following will be revealed:
- Soil pH: This is a measure of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. The ideal pH level for growing flowers is between 6 and 7, with slight variations depending on flower type. Lower numbers indicate the soil is acidic, while higher numbers indicate an alkaline.
- Nutrients: In order to produce healthy flowers, the soil should contain a number of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. If your soil is nutrient deficient, adding compost or manure, while maintaining a healthy pH level, can help get your soil ready for planting flowers.
Meeting your flowers’ growth needs
Once you have chosen a location for your flowers, you will need to make sure that you allow plenty of room for seed growth. Seed packets will tell you how far apart flowers should be planted, as well as their mature size. A common problem people have is planting too many seeds in a small space, not taking into account the room they need to grow. Smaller flowers, such as alyssum, can be planted 8 inches apart, while larger flowers, such as hollyhock, should be planted 18 inches apart.
Meeting your flowers’ light needs
All flowers need sunlight, but light requirements vary. Make sure you plant in an area where your flower seeds will be exposed to the right amount of light. Full sun, partial sun, part sun-part shade, and shade are common requirements.
Table of Contents
- 1 Basic Flower Seeds Complete Guide
- 1.1 Flower Seeds
- 1.2 Selecting the Right Flower Seeds