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Which flower seeds are best?

Starting a garden from flower seed is one of the most economical and satisfying hobbies a person can have. Rather than shelling out cash for more expensive, already-established plants, gardeners can access a more varied selection and control the exact variety of flowers they want in their yard or home.

Read this shopping guide to learn about the best ways to select and purchase flower seeds, and get a few tips about starting and growing them in optimal conditions. We’ve also included our top recommendations, such as Black Duck Brand’s bulk flower seed packets, which give gardeners 15 varieties to plant and ample instructions for growing.

What to know before you buy flower seeds?

The most important consideration when buying flower seeds is choosing which flowers you like best. If you’ve dreamed of a garden path lined with marigolds or tulips, this is your chance to make that dream real. Almost all flower seed packets include a full-color photo of the flowers in bloom on the front of the packet so you can see exactly what you’ll be getting.

You’ll want to know how well particular flower seeds will perform in your region. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a Plant Hardiness Zone map, which most seed packets include in their instructions. The highest-numbered zones have the mildest winters, while lower numbers have colder winters (and shorter growing seasons). If the flower of your choice doesn’t handle cool weather very well, consider starting it indoors in a sunny window or otherwise protecting it from frost.

The amount of sunlight your flower variety needs is also important. Will it require full sun (at least six hours of direct sunlight), partial sun or shade (three to six hours of sunlight), or full shade (less than three hours of direct sunlight)?

The age of a flower seed also determines how successfully it will germinate. The longer seeds sit on a store shelf or in your cupboard, the fewer seeds will sprout when you plant them. Check the pack date on the flower-seed packet to determine how old the seeds are.

Finally, determine if the flowers you’re selecting are annuals, which grow and die in a single growing season, or perennials, which die back in the winter but return the following year.

What to look for in quality flower seeds

Flower seeds themselves come in many different sizes depending on the species of plant. Tulips, for example, are bulb plants, so you’ll find them in larger bags that contain three to six dormant flower bulbs. Forget-me-not seeds look like tiny grains, and you need to sow them near the surface of the garden or starting medium.

A flower seed packet is loaded with information, so it’s a good idea to save the packet for reference after planting. In addition to the photo on the front, the packet will have a date indicating how fresh the seed is. On the back is information on the best time of year to start the seed (depending on the hardiness zone you’re in), how deep to plant the seeds, how long it will take them to germinate, the best time to move the seedlings outdoors, and water and sun requirements.

How much you can expect to spend on flower seeds

Considering the output and return on investment, flower seeds are a bargain at any price. Individual packets of common flower seeds are typically priced between $2-$3, while less common flowers and organic seeds will cost a little more per packet, from $4-$8. Larger bulk packets and multipacks containing several varieties of flowers run between $5-$15.

Flower seeds FAQ

Q. What is a “treated” seed?

A. A treated seed is coated with a substance that resists fungus and bacteria. The treatment gives the seed a chance to germinate and grow in damp soil. It’s done much more often to vegetable seeds than flower seeds, and particularly to slow-germinating or large seeds. There is some concern about treated seeds’ impact on pollinators such as bees. Gardeners who are worried about this can use organic seeds or select treated seeds that do not contain neonicotinoids (a substance that may harm bees).

Q. How do I thin seedlings as directed on the flower packet?

A. Flower seed packets will tell you how tall the seedlings should be before you thin them, and how far apart they should be spaced after thinning. The best way to thin seedlings is by hand. Select smaller seedlings or seedlings that are crowding others and gently tug them up and away from the other plants, being careful not to disturb the roots of the remaining seedlings.

What are the best flower seeds to buy?

Top flower seed

Black Duck Brand’s Set of 50 Flower Seed Packets

Black Duck Brand’s Set of 50 Flower Seed Packets

Our take: Gardeners who want a lot of flower types will like this large selection of brightly colored flowers.

What we like: More than enough varieties to choose from in this bulk package, saving time and energy. Most of them are popular as well, offering plenty of beautiful colors for your garden.

What we dislike: To get optimal growth and flowering, you’ll have to read each seed packet’s instructions on what time of year to plant and how much sun is needed.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top flower seed for money

Beauty Beyond Belief’s Bulk Partial-Shade Wildflower Seeds and e-Books

Beauty Beyond Belief’s Bulk Partial-Shade Wildflower Seeds and e-Books

Our take: High-quality, non-GMO wildflower seeds along with e-books that make it easier to read the planting and care instructions is a winning combination.

What we like: Each packet in this bulk selection will cover about 100 square feet with bee-friendly wildflowers that do best in partial shade. Purchasers get access to eight info-packed online books to maximize their flower-growing knowledge.

What we dislike: Successful germination and flowering can be varied, even in regions that are optimal for the wildflower types included.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Seed Needs’ Sunflower Crazy Mixture

Seed Needs’ Sunflower Crazy Mixture

Our take: Who doesn’t like sunflowers? The vivid hues available in this bulk pack will inspire budding van Goghs and home gardeners alike, and they’re super-easy to plant and grow.

What we like: Contains 15 reliable, non-GMO sunflower varieties, including Italian White, Velvet Queen, and Red Sun, in brilliant colors that will make your next-door neighbor jealous. The bulk packaging includes more than 1,000 sunflower seeds.

What we dislike: All 15 varieties are mixed together, making for a variegated yield of sunflowers that some people dislike.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Samantha Bookman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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