1. Growing Annual Flower Seeds
Annual flowers are the backbone of billowy cottage gardens. Many annuals will seed themselves. All you have to do is leave the flowers on the plants at the end of the season. They will drop seed and magically, the seeds will weave themselves throughout the garden. OK, it's not magic and sometimes you will get too many seedlings in one spot, to the point of them becoming a nuisance, but small seedlings are very easy to pull or transplant.
Annual flowers tend to grow quickly and even those you direct sow outdoors, in the spring, will flower at their usual time or very soon after. Any of the annuals that self-sow are good candidates for starting from seed, either indoors or direct sown.
2. Growing Perennial Flowers from Seed
Many perennial plants don't bloom until their second year. They spend their first season growing a strong root system and lots of leaves for photosynthesis. Once they are established, they will not only bloom, they will get larger every year. In a few years you will be able to make even more plants, by dividing the ones you have. What's more economical than free plants?
3. Speeding Up Seed Starting
Some seeds need a signal that it's time to germinate. It can be a change in temperature, a moisture level or increasing light. These two methods are good for tricking seeds into germinating sooner than they might.
- Winter sowing involves starting seed outdoors, while the temperatures are still frigid. Not all seeds can survive freezing temperatures, but many need the freezing and thawing action to break dormancy or to crack their hard coverings. Winter Sowing Explained
- Seeds with really tough or thick coverings can take forever to germinate. Scarification can give them a jumpstart. How to Scarify Seeds
4. Growing a Wildflower Garden
There's a certain romantic quality about a field of wild flowers. Many gardeners are drawn to them for their natural look, thinking they must also be easy to maintain. If you think wildflower gardens and meadows are no maintenance, think again. They require a lot of diligence to become established and regular maintenance and renewal to keep them looking good. Even in nature, meadows are just a transitional phase from field to forest.
But that doesn't mean you can't have a wildflower garden. You'll need a good mix of perennial natives, grasses and self-sowers and an eye for editing, but the rewards can be worth it.
5. Maintaining Your Flower Garden
Once your garden is overflowing with abundance, you'll want to keep it in flower. If you love to garden, this is the fun part. Deadheading, pruning and re-seeding let you take part in the seasons of your garden. This is where you really get to know your plants, how they perform and what they like.
A long blooming garden has another perk, too. At the end of the season, you can collect still more seeds from your own plants, to sow the following year. If you already have enough of those plants and want something different, either swap seeds or start the seedlings anyway and swap them with friends, in the spring. Look for seed swaps in your community, at public gardens and online or start one of your own.