Home Blog Spring flowers: top 10 seeds to start now
February 10th 2015

Spring flowers: top 10 seeds to start now

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harvestingicelandicWith the days finally getting longer I’m starting to get the spring itch already! Unlike much of the country, here in Washington we’re experiencing one of the most mild winters I can remember. Seeds have arrived and we’re already starting to fill the greenhouse with tray after tray filled with soil and seeds.

If you have access to a greenhouse or an indoor space where you can rig-up some simple grow lights, there are a number of flowers that you can start indoors and then plant out as soon as the ground can be worked, which will give you a jump start on harvesting bountiful blooms in spring.  Starting seeds indoors, versus direct seeding, can reduce pressure from weeds and pests, plus enables you to transplant strong, healthy plants exactly where you want them in your garden.

For many flower varieties, you won’t want to start seeds until 6-8 weeks prior to your frost-free date, which for my hardiness zone the last frost is usually around April 30. There are a number of flowers, however, that you can start indoors even earlier than that, which is great for gardeners itching to get their hands back in the dirt this time of year.  Most of the flowers I’m listing below are cold hardy varieties which means the young plants will usually tolerate a light frost and temperatures down to about 25 degrees F.

Whether you are ready to start seeding today, or simply looking for inspiration to round out your seed order, be sure to add a few of these favorites into your fields and cutting gardens.  After the dark gray days of winter, your spring harvest of beautiful, bountiful blooms will be that much sweeter!

harvestingpoppiesPapaver nudicale/Iceland Poppies: Iceland poppies are fast becoming one of my favorite flowers. Their brilliant silk-like petals and citrusy scent are absolutely intoxicating and they add a romantic element to any bouquet.  There are lots of poppies to choose from, but some of my favorites include Temptress mix, the San Remo mix and Champagne Bubbles and my NEW Sherbet mix.

Bells of Ireland:  One of the best fillers you can grow, each Bells of Ireland plant churns out masses of beautiful, fragrant stems that make bouquets look lush and vibrant.

harvestingchantillySnapdragons:  Every year we grow thousands of snapdragons and sell every useable stem in the patch! Chantilly snapdragons and Madame Butterfly mix are some of my latest favorites. This gorgeous group of ruffled butterfly type blooms is one of our most requested and best loved crops of the summer! Our buyers actually jump up and down clapping when the first bunches are delivered. I have grown all of the available colors and our best sellers are pink (it’s actually coral), light pink, bronze and light salmon.  To stagger blooms throughout the season, I also grow snapdragons in the Overture, Opus and Animation series.


harvestingsweetpeasSweet Peas: These sweet little blooms hold a huge space in my heart and an even bigger space in our hoophouse.  I’ve finally perfected my growing techniques to consistently produce high quality blooms with long stems.  A few of my all time favorites are ‘Nimbus,’ ‘Mollie Rilstone’ and ‘Erewhon.’

harvestingcynoglossumCynoglossum: Chinese forget-me-nots are a unique crop worth considering both because of their delicate flowers and the fact that they can be successfully grown as annuals. Be sure to get new seed every year since freshness is vital to good germination with this crop. Also, sow twice as many as you’ll need because germination can be quite irregular. In the past I’ve had great luck with ‘Blue Showers’ and ‘Mystic Pink.’

harvestinglarkspurDianthus: This workhorse of the garden is such an import crop for us that while it isn’t a personal favorite (too bright!) I still plant and pick row after row all season long.  The Dianthus ‘Amazon’ and the ‘Sweet’ series are both consistent performers with great stem length and nice sized blooms. Unlike biennial Dianthus, neither require cold temps to set flowers so they can be grown as annuals.

Larkspur: One of the easiest early varieties to start from seed. I particularly love ‘Earl Gray’ and our new Summer Skies Mix, a custom blend I created.  I generally direct seed it into the field in the fall and then follow with two rounds of plugs, one in late winter and then one in early spring.

harvestingbachelorbuttonsBachelor buttons:  I have a love hate relationship with these guys. I love their pretty wildflower blooms in early summer bouquets but I confess that I really hate picking them.  I love them.  I hate them.  Then I love them again because they bloom when the field is still bare.

harvestingcerintheCerinthe: Also known as Honeywort, cerinthe is another one of my favorite early season fillers. It is easy to grow and each plant produces a decent number of stems. I love the way the stems arch and nod;  just a few stems of cerinthe can add a lot of volume and dimension to a bouquet.

Nigella:  Also known as Love in a Mist, Nigella is a great flower and is even better when used for its pod.  Designers drool over the the black pods variety while I adore the green in mixed bouquets and arrangements. If all pods are not used, they can be dried and look lovely in fall bouquets. Nigella can be direct seeded or started early indoors and transplanted into your garden. Two of my favorites are ‘midnight’ and ‘African bride’ and be sure to check out my Starry Night custom blend which combines the two along with ‘Delft blue.’

I planned to keep this list to 10 but it’s so dang hard to pick just 10….so I’ll put in a quick footnote about a few other spring flowers to start from seed that I adore:

Stock: One stem in a bouquet provides a delicious spicy scent that will stop hurried customers dead in their tracks.  Some of my favorite cultivars are those in the Miracle group, Japanese High Doubles, Katz and Columnar series.

Digitalis /Foxglove: ‘Camelot’ is a first year flowering variety and unlike the biennial varieties, it will bloom without any cold so can be grown as an annual.

Matricaria/ Feverfew:  After trailing a dozen types of matricaria, I really came to love  to the ‘Magic’ series.  Seed is available in the Floret Shop and  Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Have you already started some of your early seeds?  What are you sowing now?  Do you have any early favorites not on this list? I’d love to hear what you have growing in your part of the world!


  1. Jejo on

    I’m so happy I was able to dig this up. I’ve been struggling picking out what flowers I wanted to plant this spring. Honestly, I normally love the freedom to pick whatever, but with how stressful life is (with school and work and truly the state of the world) sometimes it’s just nice to have someone who has experience and run with it. Looking forward to finding peace outside and in the garden.

  2. Jaime Cool on

    I can not tell you how incredibly thrilled I am that I found you! So so inspiring! I am a long time gardener looking to start a mini flower farm and see where it takes me,,, your blog is beautiful and informative!! thank you!

    • Team Floret on

      You found the right place, Jaime! Be sure to check out past blog posts and consider joining us for our next Floret Online Workshop!

  3. Sarah on

    Thank you so much for all of the helpful information! I am growing many types of bachelor buttons this year and see mixed information (everywhere) about seeding inside vs direct seeding. I understand they don’t transplant very well, but I would love to get a jump on things since I didn’t seed in the fall. From this post it looks like you can seed inside and then transplant early (after hardening off)? Is that correct?

    I appreciate your time, and understand if you are too busy to respond, this time of year especially!

  4. Caitlin on

    I love your beautful flowers ?

  5. Caitlin on

    These are my top favourite flower in the world??

  6. Planting Now for Next Years Flowers on

    […] discuss sweet peas. If you’d like a good list of zone 9 seeds you can start now, check out Floret’s article for more ideas. p.s. Thank you for your patience while I was selling the Ultimate Healthy Bundles […]

  7. SAYA on

    You’re my idol

  8. Melissa Peterson on

    Hi there! I’m a huge fan and I just wanted to see if I could link to your website on my blog. Can I have permission to use one of your images? My blog: I would like to give my readers a link to your website, blog, shop, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thank you!

  9. Sadie on

    Lovely! So exciting to have these tips with spring on the way. When you seed plugs – take snapdragons for an example – do you pot up from the original 288-cell trays? Or let them grow on in those initial cells and transplant directly from them into the field?

  10. Jacqui on

    Could you tell me how you install your small single bed hoops? They are so straight and tall on the sides. Are they plastic or metal conduit? Thanks so much!

  11. Winnie Pitrone on

    I am sowing my Agrostemma seeds as well as sweet peas and leek seeds because I adore their flowers. I am in Coastal Northern California.

  12. grizelda o'connor on

    Having a hard time finding Icelandic Meadow Pastels, or any other. Also the stocks are hard to come across, lots of mixed dwarfs. I’ll try Renee’s perhaps. Earliest spring ever here on mid Vancouver Island. Lots going on. Gonna throw some sweet peas directly in the ground and see how they do. Lots of lovely Owl’s acre sweet peas from UK. I love the Windsor and Limelight with pale pale blues. Isn’t this world grand!

  13. Caleb Whitfield on

    Gah! Reading this great, inspiring post makes me want to plant sooo bad! But it’s a bit early here in Michigan…I’ll be waiting a few more weeks to start sowing.
    Snaps and bachelor buttons are some of my early faves. Another early plant I really love: Sweet Sultans (Centaurea moschata – a cousin of bachelor buttons). The blooms are large, slightly fragrant, and the stems are longer and much easier to cut than regular bachelor buttons.
    What variety of cerinthe do you grow, Floret? I’ve planted it in the past and the color on mine never seemed to be as vibrant.

  14. Katy Van Wyk on

    I am looking all over for Icelandic Poppy Seeds in these varieties, and I am drawing a blank. It’s probably so obvious, but does anyone have suggestions? Thanks so much!

  15. Jackson at Villa Fiore Botanicals on

    We’ve had our stratified seeds out for a couple weeks, prepping them to come in under the lights. I’ll probably add some calendula this year to get it going early and have some bright yellow for spring (has intense vase life and blooms like crazy…). We’re about ready to burn the peony beds – a few sub-zero days coming up will be perfect. Seeds are sorted, so most of our time will be planning beds, getting starts underway, and prepping outside….garden work is never done… :-)

    • Christina Pfeufer on

      Could you please tell me about burning the peony beds, I’ve never done this and am very intrigued. Thanks

  16. Danielle on

    This is so amazing. Helpful, exciting and inspiring! Perfect timing, too. We’re in zone 4A/4B (last frost in late May) and going through our seed inventory now, getting ready for scheduling with the nursery operator who will be starting seedlings for us again this year. Thank you!!

  17. Killoran Moore on

    Thanks! I was going to start my sweet peas, snapdragons (I got an heirloom variety that I am particularly excited about), and bells, but it looks like I’ll be adding a few more to the list. I cannot find peat-free organic compost nearby to save my life. I don’t drive, so there’s that issue too. Haha. I’m going to try one more place tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

  18. Abby Lee on

    Nothing started here yet…well, I did just put some left over bulbs in a sunny window. Wish I had more heated space but its just too darn cold here! Definitely will be starting many from your list when the ground thaws. I always thought larkspur and bells of Ireland should be directly sown but do you start them early?

  19. Janis on

    Can’t wait to get planting, NEXT WEEK!!!! yippee!

  20. Erin Calloway on

    You are so lovely. Thank you for sharing all of your insight. You are helping us learn how to grow all the types of flowers we actually want to pick!
    You are pretty much my flower hero.

  21. KJ on

    I have more a love-love relationship with bachelor buttons (so easy to germinate, non-fussy, prolific) but that may be because I am not harvesting rows upon rows of them :) I will be trying out the cultivar ‘Black Ball’ this year to add a little drama to arrangements.

  22. Gretchen on

    I’ve been drooling over seed catalogs, and this isn’t helping – they’re all so lovely! Snapdragons are my hubby’s favorite, and I had stock in my wedding bouquet, so I never pass one without smelling it!

  23. wasabi honey bee on

    Thank you for this post!!! As always inspiring : )

    I LOVE sweet peas and snap dragons…!!!! Happy February!!!

    ~ Marica

  24. Katie on

    Haven’t started sowing any seeds just yet, but soon!!! I’d like to start with some poppies and sweet peas.

  25. Tonya on

    Thanks for the great info, as always. The lisianthus are up and slowly, SLOWLY growing along. Hahaha.

  26. Renita on

    You read my mind! I’m getting itchy for spring too. Thanks so much for this list.

    Can you tell me what the white flower is in front of the Larkspur, please?

    As always, your info in invaluable :)

    • Marsha on

      That looks like white dianthus.

    • Floret on

      Renita, it’s Dianthus.

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