Text by Bethany Adams
With spring soon to be in full swing, now’s the perfect time to head outside and cultivate a garden space that will showcase the beauty of the season. But if you didn’t get your planting done in the fall, there’s no need to fret—these six vibrant and vivacious flowers can be planted in the spring for blooms that will last into the summer, filling your outdoor space with enough color to last until the first frost!
These happy-faced flowers do best in cool zones, but they can act as annuals in warm regions, offering pops of color before the weather gets too hot for them. While you can grow them from seeds—just start them indoors about 10 weeks before the last frost—it’s easiest to start with an established plant. Once they’re thriving, these beauties can contribute not only to your yard but also to your table, as the edible flowers make the perfect garnish for drinks and desserts.
These cheerful annuals are a good option for beginning gardeners, and they’re easy to grow from seeds planted directly in the ground. The most common variety are French, and both they and the signet variety can be planted as late as midsummer. The taller African marigolds, however, should be planted just after the danger of frost has passed. The African variety is also best grown from established plants or started indoors 4–6 weeks before the last frost.
While zinnias come in three main types—single, semidouble, and double—the varieties of these annuals are plentiful, offering options for color, shape, and height. But be aware: zinnias don’t like to be transported, and they don’t do well with frost, so be careful not to plant them too early! They’ll bloom anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months after planting, so sowing a round of seeds every week or so at the beginning of the season can help you enjoy blooms all summer!
Maybe the most iconic bloom on this list, sunflowers are a sure way to add extra cheer to your garden. Sow them where they’ll get full sun after the last frost, once the soil has reached at least 50°F, and you should see blooms between 80 and 120 days. While you can’t go wrong with the classic brown-and-yellow options, lesser-known varieties like the burgundy red ‘Moulin Rouge’ are great for creating a one-of-a-kind display.
Available in a variety of colors, these vine-grown beauties are good for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. For early summer blooms, break the seed coats by filing them down and then soaking them in water for 24 hours before planting them in soil around 64°F. Once the vines reach six inches, support them with wire frames, arches, or lattices.
Also known as moon vines, white morning glories, or evening glories, moonflowers offer a sweet touch to your yard once the sun goes down. The pale blooms last only one day (or night), but they fill the evening air with a subtle aroma that’s perfect for enjoying from the porch swing. Start the seeds indoors 6–8 weeks before the last frost or plant them once the soil is between 60°F and 70°F. To help them along, nick the seed coatings and soak them overnight in warm water before planting.