It has been a long winter. We are looking forward to the warmth and colors of spring. The ground is just beginning to thaw. Below is a list of flower seeds that grow well in cooler soils. They should be planted now, before hot weather sets in. Mulch these plants to conserve soil moisture, to keep the soil cool, and to discourage weed growth.
Alyssum, Lobularia maritima, 3-9 inches tall and a bit wider. Low growing ground cover with white, purple, or pink pastel blooms that cover the entire plants. It is attractive to tiny pollinators. Press the seeds onto the soil, but do not cover them; light is needed for germination. Plant in organically rich soil in full sun to part shade. Encourage reblooming with a liquid feeding. Alyssum may stop blooming in midsummer heat. The plant reseeds if flowers are not removed.
Bachelor’s Buttons or Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus, 2-3 feet tall. Colors include true blue, red, white, pink, purple, shades of black, and bicolor. Plant red, white, and blue flowers together for a patriotic display. This a minimal care plant that does well in most well-drained soils in full sun. Plant seeds ½ inch deep. This is an ideal plant for a children’s garden. It reseeds readily.
Calendula or Pot Marigold, Calendula officinalis, 12-24 inches tall, depending on the variety. This springtime plant has single or double forms of beautiful yellow, orange, light pink, or almost white flowers. If seeds are planted when it is too warm, the plant does poorly. Remember to cover seeds well with ¼- ½ inches of soil as light exposure keeps the seeds from sprouting. The flowers are edible but bitter, attract pollinators, and work well as cut flowers. It loves full sun in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. It reseeds readily.
Photo: Calendula, donvikro/pixabay
Larkspur, Delphinium species, 24-60 inches tall, depending on the variety. This plant has beautiful spikes of blue, purple, white, or sometimes pink flowers. Germination improves if seed is pre-chilled in the refrigerator for 14-21 days. Do this by putting the seeds into a Ziploc bag with a small amount of damp growing medium. Then, plant the seeds outside in early spring ¼ inches deep (Cover well; the seed needs darkness to germinate). Seed germinates very poorly once soil temperature reaches 55° F. All parts of this plant are poisonous.
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale, Brassica oleracea, 15-20 inches tall and 12 inches across. Grow these for their large, attractive mounds of white, pink, purple, or lavender leaves. These Brassicas are edible, but bitter and not as good tasting as their vegetable garden relatives. Plant seeds on the surface as light is needed for germination. Plant in full sun in rich soil.
Poppy, Papaver species. These plants with silky flowers of red, pink, purple, orange, white, or gray grow best in cooler weather. There are single or double varieties. Poppies can be planted as soon as you can work the soil. It is easier to plant the small seeds and to reduce by thinning later, if you mix the seeds with three parts of sand before sowing. Plant seeds one-eighth inch deep in a sunny spot where you want poppies to grow. If you want them to resow each year, do not remove the flowers. Some varieties (bread poppies) provide tasty seeds to add to your breads, buns, or pastry.
Sweet Peas, Lathyrus odoratus, 8inches to 10 eet. tall, depending on the variety. Varieties of these plants bloom from spring to summer with a very wide range of colors and forms. Scent varies widely, and some older varieties are said to be more aromatic. Soak the seeds overnight to promote germination. Plant ¾ to 1 inch deep in full sun; keep well-watered. Provide support for the vines of taller varieties.
Now is the time for me, and for you, to rush out to the garden and plant those early seeds.
Enjoy your gardening,