If you live in a cold climate, there are plenty of annual and perennial flower seeds you can sow in the fall garden. Later, as winter turns to spring, the seeds germinate and new growth begins. It is a simple way to start new plants. I have provided a printable list for you to choose seeds for your garden.
For more, hop over to the Fall Gardening & Winter Prep Headquarters for lots of smart & helpful tips.
Choose Favorite Flowers for Your Zone
There is no one-plant-suits-all in gardening.
With each growing zone and climate, there are plants that thrive, and others that do not, either because they are too tender or aggressive.
Tender plants (when we attempt to grow them as perennials) demand too of our time and resources to help them along, and the aggressive ones invade, hogging natural resources.
You’ll know you have the right plants for a sustainable garden when they tolerate your growing conditions and require minimal or no care.
Know Your Zone & Get Local Advice
Wait! Before You Plant…
Always check first that plants are:
- Recommended for your growing zone.
- Not invasive in your area.
- Suit your growing conditions (sun, soil, water).
- Can cope with your specific location and weather conditions (e.g. high winds).
The first step is to know your gardening zone (for plant hardiness) and learn which plants are best for your growing conditions and climate. Invasive species (plants and animals) are huge problem these days and it is critical that gardeners are making safe choices that benefit the environment.
Growing zones are usually displayed on plant packages, tags, and seed packets to assist your buying decisions.
To learn more about local conservation authorities and endangered and invasive species, see Handy Online Resources for Gardeners.
There are so many plants gardeners later deeply regret planting. Learn from their mistakes by doing your homework before planting or sowing. Never assume because a plant is sold at a local garden nursery that it is harmless to the environment. Plenty of invasive species are sold every day.
Plant Beneficial Plants
Fall in love! Once you know what is safe and beneficial to plant, explore your options, look over your neighbor’s garden—the one with awesome beauty!— and choose what you love.
For me, I love having a lot of wild things in my garden—insects, birds, bees, mammals, pollinators, things pollinators eat, and so on. The whole circle of life. So, I focus on the plants that attract, feed, and house them, in a cottage-style design. For me, that means creatively disheveled, densely-planted garden, with lots of colour, texture, and variety.
Got a patio or balcony?
You can sow seeds in containers just as you would in the ground, using good potting mix. When first frost is imminent, add some straw, burlap or other insulation on the surface of the soil to prevent the seeds from freezing or store the container in a cold (not below zero) garage until late early spring.
Free Printable Seed List
25 Flower Seeds to Sow in the Fall lists annual and perennial seeds you can sow in fall, before the ground freezes, for spring and summer germination and (best of all) flowers!
They will be dormant through fall and winter and germinate in spring. Lots of plants self-seed this way.
You can see examples of the recommended seeds here on Amazon.com. I do, however, always recommend finding a local seed seller if you can. This way you know the seeds will succeed in your climate and growing conditions.
There are annuals and perennials, depending on where you live. In Canada and the United States, what’s perennial in the south can be too tender for the north! And, some of our northern favourites, can’t handle the southern heat.
I’ve listed general hardiness zones for each species but there are always exceptions with different hybrids and cultivars, so check your seed packets!
|Alyssum, sweet (Lobularia maritima) | zones 3-10
Bachelor Buttons / Cornflower Centaurea cyanus | zones 3-8
Bee Balm Monarda | zones 3-9
Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia | zones 3-9
Blanket Flower Gaillardia | zones 3-10
Blue Flax Linum perenne lewisii | zones 5-8
Calendula Calendula | zones 9-11
Columbine Aquilegea | zones 3-9
Coneflower Echinacea | zones 3-9
Coreopsis Coreopsis | zones 4-9
Cosmos Cosmos | zones 9-10
Cupid’s Dart Catananche caerulea | zones 4-9
Daisy, Painted Chrysanthemum coccineum | zones 3-7
Delphinium | zones 3-8
Flax Linum grandiflorum | zones 3-10
Foxglove Digitalis | zones 4-8
Larkspur Consolida | zones 2-10
|Love-In-A-Mist Nigella damascena | zones 2-11
Lobelia Lobelia | zones 4-8
Lavender Lavandula | zones 5-9
Lady’s Mantle Alchemilla | zones 3-7
Milkweed Asclepias | zones 4-9
Nasturtium Tropaeolum | zones 7-10
Pansy Viola | zones 5-10
Penstemon Penestemon | zones 3-8
Pincushion Flowers Scabiosa | zones 3-7
Pinkball Thrift Armeria Formosa | zones 3-9
Poppy Papaveraceae | zones 3-8
Prairie Coneflower Ratibida columnifera | zones 3-10
Rose Campion Silene | zones 4-8
Snapdragons Antirrhinum | zones 8-9
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus | zones 2-11
Sweet William Dianthus | zones 3-9
Virginia Stocks Matthiola maritima | zones 9-11
Wallflower Cheiranthus cheiri | zones 6-9
Some of the plants on the list, like delphiniums, which originate in a mountain climate, benefit from a cold winter respite, which assists the spring germination process.
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- Choose seeds suited to your growing zone and conditions, making sure none are invasive species in your area.
- Read your seed packets for best timing for seed sowing, and provide the best soil and growing conditions possible.
- If there are special instructions on the seed packet, follow them!
Some seeds with tougher shells benefit from scarification (scratching the surface before sowing) or pre-soaking for better germination rates.
- Mark where you sow with winter-durable tags or markers.
It is incredibly easy to mistake freshly germinating seeds for unwanted weeds, or stomp on tiny seedlings in the spring garden. Mark your spots!
When I need a permanent plant ID tag, this is the plant labeling system I like.
Want reliable plant information? These are my go-to plant databases for identifying plants, growing tips, invasive species news, and more.
This method of fall seed sowing is really just an imitation of what nature does at the end of the summer growing season. Flowers turn to seed, seeds fall to the ground, and some germinate. In a cold climate with a true winter, germination is simply delayed until the warm weather returns.
Want to plant flowering bulbs? This lists 20 flower bulbs you can sow in fall.
And fall and spring are best for these cool-loving greens: 20 quick-growing veggies for your garden.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛