First-Year Flowering Perennials - Diane's Flower Seeds

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 bloom. 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 'Apricot Sprite' -- Peachy-apricot, tubular flowers for hummingbirds.

Agastache foeniculum -- Tall spikes of lavender-blue flowers. Leaves for tea.

Agastache 'Globetrotter' -- Spikes of lilac-pink flowers with carmine-red bracts.

Agastache rupestris -- Bushy perennial with coral-orange, tubular flowers.

Agastache 'Tango' -- Fiery orange, tubular flowers. Fragrant, gray-green foliage.

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

Centranthus ruber -- Bushy perennial with reddish-pink or white flowers.

Delphinium grandiflorum 'Blue Butterfly' -- Vivid, ultramarine blue flowers.

Dianthus 'Rainbow Loveliness' -- Fragrant, fringed flowers in a mix of colors.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' -- White petals around a bronze center.

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

Gaillardia aristata -- Wine-red or scarlet-red flowers edged in gold.

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

Geum chiloense -- Scarlet-red or golden-yellow flowers. Long bloom season.

Hollyhock 'Indian Spring' -- Large flowers in pink, white, rose and wine-red.

Lavender 'Lady' -- Compact plants with highly fragrant, lavender-blue flowers.

Linum narbonense 'Heavenly Blue' (Flax) -- Wildflower with sky-blue flowers.

Linum perenne 'Sapphire' (Blue Flax) -- Compact selection for front of border.

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

Lychnis chalcedonica -- Red, salmon or white flowers. Attracts hummingbirds.

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

Oenothera odorata 'Lemon Sunset' -- Large, fragrant, light yellow flowers.

Oenothera versicolor 'Sunset Boulevard' -- Sunset orange flowers fading to red.

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

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

Penstemon barbatus 'Coccineus' -- Tall spikes of scarlet-red, tubular flowers.

Platycodon grandiflorus -- Blue, pink or white double or single balloon flowers.

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

Rudbeckia hirta -- Gold, bronze or mahogany-red, daisy-like flowers.

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

Salvia pratensis 'Twilight Serenade' -- Vibrant, deep violet-blue flowers in June.

Salvia superba 'Blue Queen' -- Compact. Violet-blue flowers. Repeat blooms.

Salvia superba 'Violet Queen' -- Dark violet flowers on a bushy perennial.

Salvia transsylvanica 'Blue Spires' -- Spikes of vivid, deep blue flowers.

Shasta Daisy 'Crazy Daisy' -- Double, pure white flowers with yellow centers.

Shasta Daisy 'Silver Princess' -- Compact plants for containers. Single flowers.

Thalictrum aquilegifolium -- Fluffy pink, purple or white flowers. Shade tolerant.

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

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

Viola cornuta -- Small flowers in a wide range of colors. Shade tolerant.

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


Annual Flower Seeds

Perennial Flower Seeds

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