How to Grow Perennial Flowers from Seed

Buying container-grown perennials can get pricey. Save money by following this step-by-step guide for growing your own perennials from seed.

Child hands planting a pea in garden. Spring scene

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Growing your own perennials from seed is cheaper than buying container-grown plants from a nursery. It can be more satisfying, because you feel like a gardener with above average skills. Or it can be frustrating because your perennial seeds don’t sprout and you have cups of dirt on your windowsills. Follow these step-by-step instructions for success in starting perennial seeds indoors in late winter.

Materials

  • Perennial flower seeds (Tip: Black-eyed Susan, datura, hollyhock, yarrow, purple coneflower, catmint and aster are some of the easiest to grow from seed.)
  • Seed-starting mix or potting soil
  • Plant label stakes
  • Small, shallow containers (Tip: An egg carton is an economical option for starting perennial seeds.)
  • Plastic wrap or plastic bag

Instructions

  1. Fill your containers with seed-starting mix. Sprinkle a couple of perennial seeds on top of the potting mix in each pot. Cover with 1/8 inch of sphagnum moss. Water well. (Tip: Sprinkle water with your fingers so you don’t wash the seeds out of the soil.)
  2. Label each container. Yes, you will forget what types of perennial seeds are in these containers. Use labels. (Tip: Craft sticks make good plant markers.)  
  3. Cover each container with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free spot. Keeping the seeds moist and warm is key to their sprouting. Seeds should sprout within three weeks.  
  4. Place the seedlings in a sunny spot. A windowsill will work or you can place them under a grow light. When the seedlings have grown secondary leaves, take off the plastic wrap and transplant them to larger containers filled with regular potting soil. Keep them moist and in the brightest spot you can.  
  5. After the last frost, take the containers outside to give the little plants a taste of the outdoors. Leave them out all day and bring them in at night. Bright light will make them grow like crazy. 
  6. When plants are a couple of inches tall, transplant them to a temporary home. Your little perennials will get a better start if you put them in a raised bed where you can pamper them for a season. Fertilize a week after transplanting. Label them. You will forget what they are. Trust us on this.  
  7. The following spring, move them to their forever home. Your perennials are now adults and ready to grow on their own, with far less help from you. Keep them watered for a few weeks after transplanting to get them established. 
  8. The following fall, harvest perennial seed from your plants. Continue the cycle of life and grow more plants from seed over the winter. 

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