The 5 Quickest-Sprouting Flower Seeds to Plant, for When You Want Blooms ASAP

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There's really not much to dislike about gardening. It gets you outside, working with your hands and back to nature. For some, it saves us a trip to the grocery store for fresh herbs and crisp produce. For others, the colorful blooms and scent of the flowers are enough.

The only gripe we have? It just takes so much time to grow just about anything.

If patience really isn't your thing, listen up: you're gonna want to get your hands on some quick-sprouting flower seeds. Allison Vallin, an organic gardener in Maine and creator of the blog Finch + Folly, confirms that yes, there are actually flower seeds that geminate and grow faster than others—just be sure to have realistic expectations. "Just because a seed germinates fast doesn't mean that it blooms fast," she says. "For example, flowers like violas and petunias take longer for their seeds to germinate than zinnias and cosmos, but they will produce their first flowers much earlier than the later."

So, say you plant a garden full of gorgeous zinnias. Those seeds will germinate (or sprout) in a few days, but they won't actually bloom for another three months. If you plant petunias, however, you can expect to see some purple within 70 days of germination. Just know before you grow.

As for general care, Vallin has some handy tips regarding soil, water, and sunlight. With soil, warmer is typically better, but it all depends on the seeds. Some prefer cooler dirt, so do your planting in early spring. With water, most species can go with a few days on one, long soaking opposed to a little water each day (it's better for reaching the roots). "Avoid spraying from above, rather, focus on watering below the foliage," Vallin suggests. "This helps prevent diseases like mildew."

Lastly, most flowers are sun lovers that crave a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight a day. So look for those sunny spots in your garden beds. And if you have a lot of shade or gardening near woods, like Vallin does, she suggests a few shade-loving annuals, begonias, impatiens, and sweet alyssum.

If you're feeling antsy and want flowers fast, look for species of annuals that blossom within that 2.5-month range. "For the fastest sprouters to flowers, I would recommend sunflowers, calendula, marigolds, nasturtiums, and phlox," she says. "They're not only quick to deliver and total eye candy, but they’re each pretty forgiving flowers to get started with. You really can’t grow wrong with any of them, and they'll bring loads of pollinators into your garden."

Ready to get plantin'? Below, some tips for bringing these quick-sprouting flower seeds into full bloom.

Vallin's 5 favorite quickest sprouting flower seeds

1. Sunflowers:

Turns out, the iconic summer flower is also one of the quickest to sprout. If you’re worried about the room, sunflowers aren’t always ginormous—plant some dwarf sunflower seeds in a self-draining pot or garden bed for buds between 6-14 inches tall. Pro tip: Vallin says that sunflowers don’t love to be transplanted, so sow where you want to grow (usually a sunny spot in some soil with compost or organic matter added to it).

2. Nasturtiums:

Don’t let the name fool you, these beautiful plants bloom in a burning bush of reds, oranges, and yellows (that are also edible!). Vallin says that like sunflowers, nasturiums shouldn't be transplanted, and you'll want to plant your seeds directly in the garden as soon as the soil has warmed up. “Nasturiums are drought-tolerant, so no need to overwater,” she says. “Simply sow in regular soil and plant the seeds 1/2-inch deep and 10-feet apart. They prefer full sun and well-draining soil.”

3. Calendula:

One of Vallin’s personal favorites, the cheery calendulas are as pretty as they are easy to plant. They’re also a total powerhouse of a medicinal herb that’s often used as an anti-inflammatory in skincare products, like Naturopathica’s Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream ($68) and Kiehls’ Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner ($24). Vallin recommends cutting off the spent blooms to make room for healthy growth, and it will bloom all the way until frost. “The plant actively drops its seed, so you can expect to see ‘volunteers’ pop-up next spring.”

4. Phlox:

Want that classic English cottage feel? These pretty flowers bloom in a vivid burst of baby blues, bright pinks, fun purples, and summery whites. It comes in perennial and annual varieties, but Vallin recommends the annual variety (Phlox drummondii) which grows about 2-feet tall and blooms through mid-summer. “This is a pollinator favorite, so sow in a sunny spot, with rich, moist soil,” says Vallin. “But if you live in a drought-prone area, this probably isn’t the best flower to grow.”

5. Marigolds:

These summery beauts are great for any level of gardener who wants flowers in a flash. They also make a great companion plant. So if you're growing tasty veggies, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash, throw in a couple marigolds to join the party.

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