After surviving the brutal heat of August, Texas gardeners look forward to getting their fall garden going. These 5 easy flowers to grow from seed in September, and by October, the weather will be cool enough for them to go in 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 the ones I am listing below, but these I tried with great success.
Before listing the flowers you can grow from seeds, let me give you some quick tips on how to grow and care for them.
When to start these flower seeds?
For a good head start on the season, sow the seeds by the end of August beginning of September. Use a light seed starting mix and keep it moist at all times until the seedlings emerge.
Use a grow light or a bright windowsill to prevent spindliness. Low light triggers the young plants to stretch looking for a light, resulting in a thin weak stem.
Do I need to fertilize?
Once the second set of leaves shows up, it is a good idea to use a low concentration fertilizer. 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 source of light. Keep it as simple as possible.
When to pot the seedlings up?
The seedlings need a bigger “house” when you start seeing the roots peeking out from the drainage holes. Transfer the plants to a slightly bigger size pot not too big though, to keep the soil evenly moist.
How to water seedling?
In the first weeks, water from top until the seedlings come out. 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. The water will travel from wet to dry, according to the capillary rule.
This watering methods has two main benefits:
- Prevents dumping off, which is a fungal disease that causes the stem to die at soil level.
- Reduces fungus gnats, which are tiny annoying flies that thrive in moist environments.
When to transplant outside?
Before transplanting outdoors, you should harden the transplants off. It is the process of getting the little plants 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. Increase the time slowly through seven days. The last day keep them out overnight, protected from rodents and other nocturnal animals.
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 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 to care for. 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. It grows easily from seed and can become a perennial if planted in a semi-shady area. There are two varieties; tall dianthus, which is 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. If you are not a fan of flowers that reseed themselves, skip this one.
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 an 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, 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 in a vegetable bed. Its explosive blooms start showing up in the fall continuing all the way to spring. Despite their small size, the mass of bright colors they display is breath-taking.
The tall Snapdragon is a great cut-flower, with its cascading blooms they are meant to show off on any arrangement. 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, it will make want to eat them.
Snapdragons are edible flowers, but they do 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. They might need cover only for those super cold days.