Create a Low-Cost, Beautiful Flower Garden with Seeds

Annual flowers are a great way to start a garden.  There are many different kinds you can buy in pots or start from seeds.  The give you garden lots of color and different texture, as well as coming in various sizes.  The advantage of seeds is they are less expensive for more flowers than those you buy already growing in pots.  Annual seeds can be replaced each year to get new varieties or some flowers will reseed themselves so they come back each year without any effort from you.  Inexpensive annual seeds can be purchased at Dollar or Drug Stores.  If you prefer to have a perennial flower garden in the hopes that you will not have to be planting every year in the future; you can plant seeds for those too.  Until your perennials are large enough to fill in your garden, you can use annual seeds planted between the plants to fill in the garden so it does not look as  sparse.  Purchase perennial seeds at garden centers or home improvement stores.

Look for seed packets by searching the pictures on the front to select the colors and styles you like.  Then check the back of the seed packet for sun requirement, growth information like how tall the flowers will get, and how far apart to plant them, as this will indicate their plant width.  Sun requirements let you know where the seeds might fit in your garden.  Knowing the final plant size, will allow you to estimate how many seed packets you may need to fill the space you have allotted for a flower garden. Most seed packets will have about 10-12 large seeds about 20 medium, or around 30 small seeds.  You can squeeze the bottom of the packet to try to feel if seeds are larger or smaller.    Be sure to also check to make sure the flowers grow in your region by looking at the map on the back as it will indicate when you should plant the seeds for optimum performance as well as when they are expected to bloom.  Most of the year, you can purchase seeds from seed catalogs or at a gardening centers.  Early in spring other stores may carry seeds as well.  If you want mostly inexpensive annual seeds, you might try checking discount stores, drug stores, and dollar stores in March through May.  If you find later that you bought too many seeds, you can give them away, over plant your area, or save the extra seeds to use next year.

Annual Seed Packets
After you purchase your seeds and take them home, you should arrange the seeds by when they should be planted so that you plant the earlier ones first for spring and then the others for summer or autumn blooms.  Again you will reference the back of the seed packet for planting time and size.  Since plants germinate at different rates, you may want to try to plant them all at the same time by doing the early ones in their latest month and the later ones in their earliest month.  Once you have decided when to plant seeds, you may want to further sort them by height so you can plant the taller ones at the back of the garden going forward to the front with the shorter plants.  

Now it is time to plant your seeds!  To plant large seeds or plant them further apart, you will want to use the tip of you hand trowel to dig a hole the depth indicated on the seed packet.  Some people prefer to use a pencil to make smaller seed holes by marking the depth on the pencil, then plunging it into the ground at that depth to make a perfect hole.  After using either method, place the seed in the hole and cover it with the removed or displaced soil.  If you want to plant your medium to small seeds in a row, you can use the edge of the trowel, an outside tine on a bow rake, or a stick to drag through the soil in order to make a small ditch.  The soil will move to above the sides of the ditch.  You can then drop your seeds into the ditch at the spacing indicated on the packet.  Then push the soil from the sides of the ditch back over the seeds.  Rows can be straight lines or you may draw a wavier pattern to give the garden a less formal look.   Water the newly planted seeds.  Then lightly water each day to keep the soil moist, not soggy, to encourage germination.  After seeds sprout, continue light daily watering until they look more like a tiny plant instead of 2-4 leaf seedlings.  Once they are established plants, you may be able to water less often in mild weather areas. 

Tips for gardening with children:  If you want to get kids involved in the process, they usually love digging holes as long as you show them where and how deep.  They also like to scatter the “baby” seeds over the ground.  You will need to either show them how to do this by rubbing seeds between fingers to drop around loosely.  Another way for you or children to scatter small sand-like seeds is to put them in an old salt shaker with holes larger enough to sprinkle them out of.  Smaller kids find “salting the earth with seeds” to be a fun activity.  Just be sure they skip around the garden area and don’t just stand in one place salting!  For another fun activity to do with children, see post Flower Motif Mats to Interest the Kids in Gardening.

When doing garden maintenance later, keep in mind that some seedlings for flowers will look exactly like the seedlings of weeds.  For example Daisies often look the same as Dandelions when they are small, but as they get larger Daisies grow upward with smaller leaves and Dandelions grow their leaves longer and outward.  It may go against your gardener’s nature to wait on pulling weeds, but if you can’t remember what you planted where, you may want to let a plant get 2-3 inches big before you deem it a weed and pull it up.  To help you remember what you planted where, you may want to make a simple drawing of the garden plot and label it with the flower names.

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