When Should You Plant Flowers? Let's Get Growing! (2024)

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When do you plant flowers in the garden? It depends! Is it a perennial flower, annual flower, or bulb? Is it frost-sensitive or not? As with vegetables, there’s a right and a wrong time to plant your beloved blooms. Here’s when to start seeds and when to transplant young plantsoutdoors.

Different plants need a different amount of lead time before they are ready to transplant into the garden. Starting too soon can result in a weak, lanky plant, whilestarting too late can give you one that is just not ready for the outside world—both will struggle to survive! Here’s what you should take into consideration beforeplanting.

Know Your FrostDate

Before you even think of starting seeds, you must know your area’s spring (and fall) frost dates. Planting schedules like the one below or our Vegetable Planting Calendarrely on frostdates to determine when it’s safest toultimately plant outdoors since young plants are more susceptible to afreeze.


  • How to Grow a Flower Garden

  • Why You Should Plant Annual Flowers

  • 20 Easy-to-Grow Perennial Flowers for Beginners

When Should You Plant Flowers? Let's Get Growing! (1)

When to Plant PerennialFlowers

Perennials are plants that are capable of survivingtwo or more years. While they may die back to the ground in winter, their roots survive underground and produce new foliage asthe increased light and warmth of spring arrives. Mostperennials will bloom in the same year that they are planted, while others may need to spend time becoming established first (particularly if planted later in the growingseason).

Start Seeds in theSpring

Some perennials can be challenging to start from seed, but most are fairly easy to grow and make foran inexpensive way to fill up a new flower bed. Some seeds will need a period of cold temperatures before they will germinate and mayalsotake a longer time to germinate—3-4 weeks is not unusual—so they should be started earlier than others. Follow the instructions given on your seedpacket.

Plant Mature Perennialsin theFall

If you’re planning on adding mature perennial plants (such as those bought from a nursery) to your garden, the best time to plant is in the fall, so the cold temperatures and moisture that come with winter stimulate germination. Plant them at least sixweeks before your first fall frost date in order to give them time to settle in before winter. Roots will still grow while temperatures are in the 40s (Fahrenheit). Read all about planting and caring for perennials here!

You can also start seeds indoors in in springtime. See the chartbelow.

When to Start Perennial FlowerSeeds

FlowerStart Seeds Indoors (Weeks Before Last SPRING Frost Date )Plant Outdoors
Anise Hyssop8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Asclepias (Milkweed)10-12 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Catmint8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Columbine8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Coreopsis8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Daisy10-12 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Delphinium (perennial)10-12 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Dianthus10-12 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Echinacea (Coneflower)8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Foxglove (Digitalis)10-12 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Gaillardia8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Helianthus8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Heliopsis10-12 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Hibiscus8-10 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Hollyhock8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Monarda (Bee Balm)8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Phlox (perennial)10-12 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Rudbeckia (Black-Eyed Susan)8-10 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Thyme8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Viola8-10 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Yarrow8-10 weeksOn last frost date

How Long Do Perennials Take toGrow?


Many perennials take 8 to 10 weeks to reach a good size and can be transplanted on or afterthe last frostdate:

  • Anise hyssop, catmint, columbine, coreopsis, echinacea, gaillardia, helianthus, hollyhock, monarda, thyme, andyarrow.

Rudbeckia and violas are a little hardier and can go out in the garden 1 to 2 weeks before the last frost. Perennial hibiscus, on the other hand, needsto wait 1-2 weeks after the frost-free date haspassed.


Daisies, delphinium, and dianthus should be started 10 to 12 weeks ahead and can be planted out 1 to 2 weeks before the frost-freedate.

Asclepias, foxglove, heliopsis, and phlox take 10 to 12 weeks but need to wait until after the last frost to betransplanted.

When Should You Plant Flowers? Let's Get Growing! (2)

When to Plant AnnualFlowers

Annuals are plants that sprout, grow, bloom, and go to seed all in one season and only for one season. When winter comes, the plant dies, relying on its many seeds to germinate in the following spring. Because of this, most annual flowers are easy to grow from seed, taking about 6 to 8 weeks to grow to a transplantable size, though there are always exceptions to the rule. Some seeds may just take longer to germinate, and slower-growing annuals will need to be started earlier. (Be sure to read the backs of your seed packets for plant- andvariety-specificrecommendations!)

Since most annuals are frost tender, you’ll need to wait until after the last spring frost date to transplant them into your garden. Below, you’ll find a table listing common annuals, as well as when to start their seeds and when to plant them outdoors. Remember to harden plants off before setting themoutside!

When to StartAnnual FlowerSeeds

FlowerStart Seeds Indoors (Weeks Before Last SPRING Frost Date)Plant Outdoors
Allium6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Ageratum6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Alyssum6-8 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Aster6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Bachelor Button6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Calendula6-8 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Celosia6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Coleus8-10 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Cosmos6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Delphinium (annual)6-8 weeks1-2 weeks before last frost
Gomphrena6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Impatiens8-10 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Marigolds6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Morning Glory*3-4 weeksAfter last frost
Nicotiana6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Petunia8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Phlox (annual)8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Salvia6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Scabiosa6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Snapdragon8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Statice6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Stock8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Strawflower6-8 weeksOn last frost date
Sunflower*3-4 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost
Verbena8-10 weeksOn last frost date
Zinnia*4-6 weeks1-2 weeks after last frost

*These fast-growing annualsare often started outdoors after the danger of frost haspassed.

How Long Do Annuals Take toGrow?


Speedy annuals such as morning glories and sunflowers may take only 3-4 weeks to reach a transplantable size. Zinnias only need a 4- to 6-week head start and can be transplanted outdoors after your last spring frost date. Alternatively, these fast-growing annuals canbe directly sown in the garden after the danger of frost haspassed.


Annuals that take 6-8 weeks to grow and can go out when the frost-free date arrivesinclude:

  • Ageratum, asters, bachelor buttons, celosia, cosmos, gomphrena, marigolds, nicotiana, salvia, scabiosa, statice, andstrawflowers.

Alyssum, calendula, and delphiniums also take about 6-8 weeks to grow,but these can go outside a little earlier: 1-2 weeks before the lastfrost.


These annuals are slower to germinate and take 8-10 weeks to reach a good size for the garden. They can go out on the frost-freedate:

  • Petunias, phlox, snapdragons, stock, andverbena.

Coleus and impatiens also take 8-10 weeks but are a little more tender and need to be transplanted a week or two after the last frostdate.

When Should You Plant Flowers? Let's Get Growing! (3)

When to Plant Spring and SummerBulbs

Planting bulbsis another lovely way to add seasonal pops of color to your garden. We divide bulbsinto two main categories: spring-flowering bulbs and summer-floweringbulbs.

  • Spring-flowering bulbs are those that bloom from early spring to early summer. Included in this category are flowers like tulips, crocuses, anddaffodils.
  • Summer-flowering bulbs are those that bloom from early summer to early fall. Included in this category are flowers like gladiolus, dahlias, andcannas.

Generally speaking, spring-flowering bulbs should be planted in the fall (a few weeks before the first frost), while summer-flowering bulbs should be planted in the spring (a few weeks after the last frost). Why? In many cases, summer flowering bulbs are not hardy enough to survive winter outdoors, while spring flowering bulbs may actually need a period of colder weather to trigger their spring blooms. There are exceptions, of course! Hardy perennials that flower in the summer, like daylilies, can be planted in the spring orfall.

What Makes a Bulb aBulb?

Not all “bulbs” are actually bulbs! A true bulb is a specific type of underground storage structure—think onions, tulips, and daffodils.Many popular “bulbs” are actually other types of structures, likecorms (gladiolus),rhizomes (irises, daylilies), and tubers (dahlias). However,most gardeners simply refer to this entire category of plants as “bulbs” to make things a littleeasier!

When to PlantBulbs

Bulbs to Plant in the FallBulbs to Plant in the Spring
AlliumBegonia (tuberous)
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides)Calla Lily
Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa)Crocosmia
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)Elephant Ear
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus)Freesia
Snowdrop (Galanthus)Lily, Asiatic/Oriental (Lilium)
Squill (Scilla)

*This hardy perennialmay be planted in the spring orfall.

Caring forBulbs

Wait until spring-flowering bulbs have finished blooming and their foliage has died back before digging, dividing, ormoving them around. Mark their locations with brightly-colored popsicle sticks so you can find them more easily in late summer or early fall, which is the time to divide and transplant. Read more about spring-flowering bulbs.

Fall is also the time to dig up summer-flowering bulbs that need to be stored inside for winter.Read more about growing summer-flowering bulbs here!

What flowers will you grow this upcoming season? Let us know in thecomments!

When Should You Plant Flowers? Let's Get Growing! (2024)


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