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 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.

Agastache 'Golden Jubilee' -- Unique, chartreuse foliage. Lavender-blue flowers.

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

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

Campanula latifolia 'Alba' -- Large, pure white, bell-shaped flowers.

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

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

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

Dianthus superbus 'Crimsonia' -- 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' -- Large flowers in pink, white, rose and wine-red.

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

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 -- 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 'Indian Summer' -- Large, golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers.

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

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

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

Shasta Daisy -- Single or double, pure white flowers with yellow centers.

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


Seeds

Annual Flower Seeds

Perennial Flower Seeds


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