Many beginning gardeners want a show of beautiful colors in their yards. However, intimidation can set in once you reach the huge selection of seed packets at the retail store. This list should make your visit to the seed packet aisle a breeze.
1. Zinnia: This easy-to-grow annual (only lives for one blooming season) comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Zinnia petals also come in single, semi-double, and double. Zinnia is fast-growing (germinates within 7 days) and sun-loving. Its cheerful look will brighten up any flower bed and container. Try the smaller “Thumbelina Mix” in the front of your flower beds. The tall “California Giant” will add interest in the back. Flowers come in red, yellow, pink, orange, and even green and purple. The “Envy” variety is a cool lime green. Zinnia also come in mixed colors, such as the “Peppermint Stick Mix” and “Queen Red Lime.” For a fluffier texture, try the “Cactus Mix.”
2. Cosmos: This is another fast-growing and easy-to-grow annual that loves full sun. Cosmos germinates within 7 days. This plant gives a light and airy feel to gardens. They have feathery foliage and flowers that are available in pastel shades to scarlet hues. Cosmos can grow up to 4 feet tall. For a unique look, try the “Seashells Mix.”
3. Marigolds: This annual comes in the warm colors of yellow, orange, and red and orange. A cream-colored types also exist. The French and African varieties are very popular, but no matter what you choose, these pest-repelling flowers will bloom all spring and summer. Marigolds look great in flower beds and containers. The seeds germinate within 14 days.
4. Dianthus: Anything in the Dianthus family is very easy to grow, including the Carnation, Sweet William, and Pinks. Whether you choose an annual or a perennial (lives for several blooming seasons) will bloom repeatedly, especially when dead flowers are pinched off regularly. Depending on the variety, germination can take anywhere between 5 days and 3 weeks. Dianthus come in white, as well as shades of pink, from a light baby pink to deep hues of magenta. Many also come in a combination of white and pink or white and magenta. Petals are described as single or double, depending on the variety of dianthus.
5. Sunflowers: Nothing represents summertime quite like the beloved Sunflower. If well-cared for, these hardy plants bloom into Fall. Although there are many types of Sunflowers, you can pretty much choose any one and it will be easy to grow. The “Mammoth” will take a long time to reach its 12-foot height, but its massive flower will be worth it. For a more distinctive look, try the “Teddy Bear” variety. It’s fluffy flower head will make you smile. Whether you choose an annual or perennial type, most varieties will germinate within two weeks, but they may not bloom or reach their full height for several weeks.
Other seeds for first-time gardeners to try growing are Impatiens (great for shady areas), Columbine, Daisies, Nasturtiums, and Sweet Peas.
Always read the information on the seed packet, and plant according to instructions. Keep in mind the amount of shade or sun your garden or container offers. Look at the amount of watering and maintenance the plant needs, and compare it to the amount of time and effort you are willing to commit to gardening. Growing plants from seed is a rewarding experience. When those flowers start to bud and bloom, the work you put in will be worth it!