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Best flower seeds to direct sow

White and purple daisy flowers

Raising flowers from seed is a low-cost way to fill your garden with beautiful blooms, and many flower seeds can simply be sprinkled straight onto the ground where you want them to grow. 

Armed with some top tips from our team, and a selection of 10 easy flower seeds to direct sow, your patio pots and garden borders will be bursting with blooms before you know it.

When is the best time to direct sow flower seeds?

The best time to sow flower seed outdoors is spring, when the days are lengthening and warming up. You can usually start direct sowing your hardy annual flower seeds from late March to May. Just wait until the soil is above the minimum temperature of 10C.

If you’ve missed the spring sowing window, don’t worry. Many flower seeds can also be direct sown at the end of summer but before the first frosts. They will overwinter in the ground and bloom slightly earlier the following year. 

How to direct sow flower seeds

Lilac coloured fluffy heads
Poppy ‘Lilac Pompom’ produces unusual fluffy double flower heads on strong stems
Image: Poppy Seeds – Lilac Pompom from Suttons

First-time growers needn’t be nervous about direct sowing seeds – it’s the easiest way to grow your own flowers and there’s no need to buy any special equipment. All you need are some seeds, a patch or pot of soil, a garden fork or trowel, plus a little effort.

  • Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil. 
  • Draw a plan of what you’re sowing and where, and prepare some identifying labels for each row or patch. Remember to consider your flower plants’ mature height and spread!
  • Prepare the ground by digging the soil and removing any weeds. Dig and rake until the soil has a fine tilth.
  • Annual flowers look best when grown in large groups, but keeping to loose rows within each ‘patch’ helps you to identify and remove any weeds. Make a shallow line with your finger and sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible along the row.
  • Cover the seeds with a light covering of sifted soil. Note: some seeds shouldn’t be covered e.g. poppies, so always read the instructions on the seed packet.
  • Keep your seed bed free of weeds and water it during any particularly dry spells.
  • Once your seeds have germinated and emerged from the soil, thin out any overcrowded seedlings and weeds. This gives your plants the space and light they need to grow healthily to maturity.

10 easy flower seeds to direct sow

Here are ten of the easiest flower seeds to direct sow for a quick and colourful summer display. 

Bright yellow sunflower

1. Sunflowers

Fun for children to grow, sunflower seeds are easy to handle and the popular blooms often reach two metres tall and beyond. They come in a range of colours, attracting pollinating insects and wild birds with their edible seeds. Choose dwarf types for containers or ‘giants’ for towering border varieties.

Image: Sunflower Seeds – F1 Suntastic Yellow from Suttons

Sweet pea in glass vase

2. Sweet peas

Sweet pea seeds quickly grow into care-free climbing plants that scramble over arches or wrap around obelisks. A good way to introduce scent and colour – they make excellent cut flowers for your home too! Direct sow your seeds from late April to May.

Image: Sweet Pea Seeds – Supersonic from Suttons

Pink and white cosmos flowers

3. Cosmos

Cosmos are colourful daisy-like flowers with frothy foliage and, provided you deadhead the spent blooms, they will last throughout the summer and well into autumn. For the best effect, sow your cosmos seeds in drifts through borders or in containers. 

Image: Cosmos Candyfloss Mix Seeds from Suttons

Pink calendula flower

4. Calendula (Pot Marigolds)

A traditional favourite, pot marigold seeds (Calendula officinalis) produce large, golden blooms. Valuable on the allotment, the flowers attract pollinating insects while the edible petals can be used to brighten up salads or cakes. Sow from March to May for flowers from June to Sept, or direct sow your seeds in Aug and Sept for early blooms the following year.

Image: Calendula Seeds – Pink Surprise from Suttons

Orange yellow and red nasturtiums

5. Nasturtiums

Fast-growing nasturtiums produce fabulous floral displays and are ideal on the allotment as a companion plant. The edible leaves and flowers are both great in salads – and the seeds can be pickled to make delicious ‘capers’! Direct sow your nasturtium seeds from March to May and enjoy the flowers from June to September.

Image: Nasturtium Seeds – Tutti Frutti Mix from Suttons

Purple poppies with yellow centres

6. Poppies

Enduringly popular, poppies are a great choice for the garden or wildflower meadow. From the well-known bright red field poppies to elegant oriental varieties, these flowers are available in a range of exciting colours. Direct sow your poppy seeds between March and May or, for flowers early the following year, direct sow the seeds in August or September.

Image: Poppy Seeds – Laurens Grape from Suttons

White and purple morning glory flowers

7. Morning Glory

The flowers of these little climbers will whisk you away with their Mediterranean vibes, reminding you of sunny summer vacations as they clamber freely over fences, trellis or obelisks for months on end. Direct sow your morning glory seeds (Ipomoea) in May and enjoy the blooms until the first frosts.

Image: Morning Glory Seeds – Inkspots from Suttons

Three purple and white nigella flowers

8. Nigella

The velvety pastel coloured flowers of nigella or love-in-a-mist rise from a froth of feathery foliage that quickly and easily fills out beds and borders. Sow your nigella seeds wherever you want them to grow from March to April for flowers from July to the end of August. If you sow more seeds in September you’ll get blooms from the following May.

Image: Love-in-a-Mist Seeds – Delft Blue from Suttons

Bright blue cornflower flowers

9. Cornflower

Perfect for a meadow or cottage garden, gorgeous free-natured cornflowers thrive in sunny borders.Sow your cornflower seeds from March to May for flowers from June to September. You can also direct sow them onto warm soil in August and September to enjoy slightly earlier flowers the following year.

Image: Cornflower Seeds – Blue Diadem from Suttons

Mixed wildlife flowers

10. Wildflower seeds

When sown, even as a small patch, native British wildflowers attract helpful pollinators and support a wide variety of other wildlife. The beautiful blend of colours gives an eclectic cottage garden feel.Sow your wildflower seeds directly into the ground in spring, choosing soil that hasn’t been regularly fertilised in recent months.

Image: Colourful Annuals Mix Seeds from Suttons

Now you know which flower seeds are easy to direct sow where you want them to bloom! For more advice on which flowers to sow and when, see our handy monthly flower seed sowing guide.

Lead image: Swan River Daisy Seeds – Bravo Mix from Suttons

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