First-Year Flowering Perennials - Diane's Flower Seeds
First-Year Blooming Perennials

First-Year Flowering Perennials
by Diane Linsley

What is a perfect plant? In my imagination, it’s a long-lived perennial that blooms the first year from seed, is easy to grow, and self sows in moderation. Does this dream plant really exist? Probably not. But some plants come very close to the ideal. They are called first-year flowering perennials.

Are there any disadvantages to first-year flowering perennials? My only complaint is they are not always long-lived. It seems like the longest-lived plants are the ones that are difficult to start from seed and slow to begin blooming. But if you are willing to give up expectations of long life for some of your perennials, you will be rewarded with other benefits like ease of sowing and reseeding in the garden.

If you want to see early blooms on your plants, you'll need to start the seeds indoors 6-10 weeks before the last frost date. Of course, they will not bloom at their normal time the first year. For example, lupine usually blooms in May. If you sow the seeds indoors in March, then transplant them outside after the last frost date, you can expect to see the first blooms in late summer or fall. The following spring, the show will be more spectacular.

If you live in a warm zone, or you have good soil and plenty of sun, your plants will bloom sooner. Here is a list of the best perennials that bloom the first year from seed. These have worked well for me in my zone 5 garden.

Best First-Year Flowering Perennials

Agastache foeniculum -- Native perennial. Tall spikes of lavender-blue flowers.

Antirrhinum braun-blanquetii -- Perennial snapdragon. Light yellow flowers.

Campanula latifolia 'Brantwood' -- Large, violet blue, bell-shaped flowers.

Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus' -- Large, bushy perennial with clusters of reddish-pink flowers. Self sows. Also see Centranthus ruber 'Alba'.

Dianthus superbus 'Crimsonia' -- Feathery, crimson-red flowers with a spicy fragrance.

Feverfew -- Masses of small, white, daisy-like flowers. Reseeds heavily.

Gaura lindheimeri -- Native perennial. Pink-tinged, white flowers on tall stems.

Geum 'Blazing Sunset' -- Fully double, scarlet-red flowers. Long bloom season.

Gypsophila pacifica -- Perennial baby's breath with pale pink flowers.

Hollyhock 'Indian Spring' -- Tall biennial with large flowers in shades of pink, white, rose and wine-red.

Linum perenne -- Native perennial with sky-blue flowers on arching stems.

Lupine 'Russell Hybrids' -- Dense spikes of flowers in a wide range of colors.

Lychnis chalcedonica -- Glowing, scarlet-red flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Malva sylvestris 'Zebrina' -- Pale pink flowers with dark purple stripes.

Papaver atlanticum 'Flore Pleno' -- Soft orange, double flowers. Very nice.

Papaver 'Double Tangerine Gem' -- More compact than Papaver atlanticum.

Platycodon 'Hakone Blue' -- Long-lived perennial. Deep blue, double balloon flowers. For more platycodon varieties, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Ratibida columnifera -- Native perennial with drooping, yellow petals.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' -- Large, golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers. For more Rudbeckia hirta, see Perennial Flower Seeds.

Salvia azurea -- Tall perennial with striking, azure-blue flowers in fall.

Salvia 'Violet Queen' -- Spikes of dark violet flowers on a bushy perennial.

Shasta Daisy 'Silver Princess' -- Pure white flowers with soft yellow centers.

Stipa tenuissima -- Mexican Feather Grass. Graceful, hair-like leaves.

Verbascum phoeniceum -- Tall stems with pink, purple or white flowers.

Verbena bonariensis -- Clusters of rosy-purple flowers on tall stems. Self sows.

Viola tricolor 'Helen Mount' -- Small flowers in purple, lavender and yellow.

Related Articles

Groundcovers from Seed -- Annual and perennial groundcovers.

Self-Sowing Annuals -- Flowers that reseed and come back every year.

Deer-Resistant Flowers -- Annuals & perennials. Tips for deterring deer.

Recommended Books

The Complete Flower Gardener by Karan Davis Cutler

Perennial All-Stars: The 150 Best Perennials for Great-Looking, Trouble-Free Gardens by Jeff Cox

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