After surviving the brutal heat of August, Texas gardeners look forward to getting their fall garden going. These five easy flowers to grow from seed in September, and by October, the weather will be cool enough for them to go into the ground.
In Central Texas, we are lucky to have mild winters where we can grow many hardy annuals without much effort. I am sure there are more than I am listing below, but I tried these with great success.
Before listing the flowers, you can grow from seeds, let me give you some quick tips on growing and caring for them.
When to start these flower seeds?
To get ahead of the season, sow seeds by the end of August or the beginning of September. Use a seed starting mix and keep it moist until the seedlings emerge.
Use a grow light or a bright windowsill to prevent spindliness. Low light triggers the young plants’ stems to stretch, making them thin and weak.
Do I need to fertilize?
Once the second set of leaves shows up, it is good to use a low concentration fertilizer. There is no need to get fancy, though, and start looking for a specialty product. You can use liquid seaweed, leftover coffee, or even tea. At this stage, the plants don’t need much as long as they have a good light source. Keep it as simple as possible.
When to pot the seedlings up?
The seedlings need a more prominent “housing” when the roots start peeking out from the drainage holes. Transfer the plants to a slightly bigger pot, not too big, to keep the soil evenly moist.
How to water the seedlings?
Water from the top until the seedlings come out in the first weeks. Then, as the baby plant grows, it is best to bottom water. And that’s by filling a tray with water and putting the seedling containers in it for 15 minutes. After that, the water will travel from wet to dry, according to the capillary rule.
This watering method has two main benefits:
- It prevents dumping off, a fungal disease that causes the stem to die at the soil level.
- Reduces fungus gnats that thrive in moist environments.
When to transplant outside?
Before transplanting outdoors, you should harden the transplants off and get them acclimated to the natural elements after being indoors.
The process takes about a week from start to finish. Begin by putting the transplants outside for an hour or two, preferably in a shady spot. Then, increase the time slowly through seven days. Finally, keep them out overnight, protected from rodents and other nocturnal animals on the last day.
After hardening off, the plants are ready to go into the ground or pots. By this time, it should be October, and the weather is most likely cool. But make sure to water them regularly if rain is scarce.
Calendula is a beautiful flower that doesn’t get a lot of credit. In Central Texas, it blooms from Fall through Spring. And if planted in a part shade area, it might survive the summer.
Start the seeds by the end of August beginning of September indoors. The seedlings may take more than a week to emerge. Keep them under a grow light or a bright window to prevent legginess.
Calendula is an easy plant. Keep deadheading or pinching off the spent blooms to encourage flowering. You can harvest the petals for medicinal and culinary uses.
Dianthus or Carnation is a colorful flower with different shades of reds, whites, and multicolored petals. If planted in a semi-shady area, it grows easily from seed and can become a perennial. There are two varieties; tall dianthus, great for a cut flower garden, and bush mounding dianthus, great for borders.
Larkspur could be considered a wildflower in central Texas. Plant it once, and it will keep coming back year after year. Skip this one if you are not a fan of flowers that reseed themselves.
Larkspurs are beautiful cut flowers that pair nicely with snapdragons. Its most common color is the bright purplish blue, but it does come in pale pink and white.
Ranunculus, also known as the Persian Buttercup, is a beautiful rose-like flower. It comes in an array of colors orange, red, white, yellow, and dark purple.
These flowers grow from octopus-looking corms instead of seeds. You soak them for two hours before planting. It is best to start them indoors at the end of September or the beginning of October.
Snapdragon is one of the most beautiful flowers someone could grow during Texas winters. It comes in two varieties, mounding bush and tall snapdragons.
Dwarf snapdragon is very attractive in borders and adds a lot of interest to a vegetable bed. Its explosive blooms start showing up in the fall, continuing to spring. Despite their small size, the mass of bright colors they display is breathtaking.
The tall Snapdragon is an excellent cut flower, meant to show off in any arrangement with its cascading blooms. Their colors the gradient colors vary from sweet salmon, buttery soft yellow, to popping red. They also emit a sweet scent that’s so enticing that it will make you want to eat them.
Snapdragons are edible flowers, but they leave a bitter aftertaste despite their attractive scent.
Once established, pinch the tips off to encourage new shoots for a fuller plant. It will also produce more blooms, which you should not be shy to pick often.
These flowers are called hardy annuals, which means they survive winters with proper protection. However, in Central Texas, winters are mild with occasional hard freezes. Therefore, they might need cover only for those super cold days.