"There are two great reasons to look to fast-growing annual flowers in the garden," says Erin Schanen, Troy-Bilt gardening partner, master garden volunteer, and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog and YouTube channel. "The first is that you can get a great look in very little time for just pennies. The other is that they are great to use in unexpected holes in the garden, or in places where you're not ready to plant something more permanent." That bare spot between your peonies and your roses? Consider it taken care of.
- Erin Schanen, garden blogger and creator of The Impatient Gardener blog and YouTube channel
Before you get planting, make sure you've prepared your garden. "Seeds germinate best in loose soil without any clumps. A garden cultivator such as the four-stroke TBC304 can help quickly work up an area of soil to prepare it for planting," Schanen says. You can also throw in a bit of compost for good measure. "After cultivating, rake the area to smooth it. Then you can plant flower seeds at the depth and spacing on the package. There's no need to plant in rows, and you'll get a more natural-looking garden by not planting in straight lines," she says.
Now, you're ready to head to the nursery. Ahead, Schanen reveals the five fastest-growing flowers you'll find in her garden—from sunflowers to marigolds to zinnias.
Fast-Growing Flower Seeds To Kickstart Your Garden
"There is so much to love about these. They are beautiful, entirely edible (including the leaves, flowers and even seeds, which can be pickled like capers), fill in rapidly, and are extremely easy to plant. They are also adaptable to a variety of sun exposures and locations, from full sun to part shade, and be easily grown in containers and the landscape," says Schanen, adding that mounding and trailing varieties are also available.
The flowers come in gorgeous, deep shades of red, orange, and yellow—so they'll instantly dress up your yard.
Zinias germinate within a few days of planting, and come in pinks, oranges, and reds. "There are varieties to suit any need with flowers that range dramatically in height, size and color. Some will bloom sooner than others so look for those varieties. They make excellent fillers in the garden and great cut flowers. Give them full sun and consistent moisture for best results," says Schanen.
No plant represents summer more than the not-so-humble sunflowers—and lucky for you, these beauties grow fast. "Perhaps the happiest of flowers, sunflowers grow quickly enough that you can ensure a garden full of them by sowing more every couple of weeks until well into summer in most places. The time to flower varies depending on variety so look for those that are quick to flower. They are a great statement in the garden," says Schanen.
These babies need full, uninterrupted sunlight—so make sure to position them in the most sun-soaked spot of your yard.
Marigolds symbolize upbeat feelings and emotions, and their technicolor hues reflect that. However, marigolds aren't just known for their looks. "Marigolds germinate and produce flowers quickly and have numerous advantages in the garden that goes beyond their beauty. They can help fend off some insect and wildlife damage on other plants in the garden. There are many forms, colors and sizes, all of which are easy to grow," says Schanen.
Marigolds live their best lives in full sun, but partial shade is also fine.
5. Scarlet Runner Bean
This quirky bloom will add some serious height to your garden. Scarlet Runner Bean can grow up to eight feet tall, and tend to cluster around each other. "Like most beans, they germinate in just days, and ask for full sun and consistent moisture. Give them a rich, well-draining soil to get the most out of them and give them a trellis to climb," says Schanen.
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