With milder weather right around the corner, now is the perfect time to plant cool-season flowers. Whether you start with seeds, seedlings or both, perky blue bachelor buttons and billowing pink cosmos will please you and countless bees, butterflies and other pollinators, too. Leafy calendulas crowd out weeds and start producing gold to yellow flowers at a young age, and the edible petals can be used as a substitute for saffron.
These flowers are so easy to grow that they are often used in roadside plantings, but the plants will grow faster and stronger in a well-prepared garden bed. Amend soil with 2 inches of compost and a time-release fertilizer blended for flowers. Follow instructions on how much to use. Once your flowers show vigorous growth, weed the bed thoroughly before covering the space between plants with 2 inches of mulch.
Try These Easy Winter Annuals:
- Bachelor buttons or cornflowers are famous for their starry blue blossoms. They also bloom in pink, white or dark red. This is a great flower to try growing from seed, because the large rice-shaped seeds are easy to handle, and the little plants’ gray-green foliage makes them easy to distinguish from weeds.
- Calendulas or pot marigolds are also easy to grow from seed, or buy as sturdy seedlings. Happy plants grow into leafy bushes that bloom in spurts during periods of warm winter weather. Calendulas can handle cold spells, and they often reseed in sites where they are happy.
- Cosmos flowers may look delicate, but the plants are remarkably resilient once they are established in the garden. Old-fashioned varieties can grow to 5 feet tall and benefit from staking, while ‘Sonata’ and many other varieties are more compact. Cosmos blossoms are a favorite among butterflies, and they make lovely cut flowers, too.