Planting Permanence: Top Perennial Growing Advice

by Erin Enouen

Perennials are sought-after garden plants, and for good reason. In contrast to annuals, perennials return year after year so the work you put into getting them started and established in year one is an investment with many returns!

Despite this benefit, most people purchase their perennials as transplants. While it's true that some perennials require more complicated seed starting conditions, other perennials are fairly easy to grow or just take some know-how and patience. We've broken down our catalog of perennials so that you can save on plants and time and enjoy long-lasting perennials grown from seed.

Easy From Seed Perennials

Novices and experienced growers alike should not shy away from these common garden favorites that give back year after year. Not only are many of them intensely flavorful, most also bloom mid-season offering their wonderful scents to pollinators as well. None of these are finicky germinators, just be mindful of water and seeding depth like you would any seed you are sowing.

Start Indoors or direct sow the following:
If starting indoors, you can seed 3-5 seeds per 2" pot of these varieties. No need to thin when transplanting.
Anise Hyssop
Lemon Balm
Garlic Chives

Start indoors & transplant the following:
Greek Oregano Seed 3-5 seeds per 2" pot of oregano.
German Thyme Seed 3-5 seeds per 2" pot of thyme.
Common Sage

Top Ten Tips for Starting Trickier Perennial Seeds

Now that we've covered the easiest to grow perennials, its time to cover those that have their own set of care instructions. Check out our top tips, and the plants that need them below.

An abundant basket of Wild Bergamot. Easy to grow, but needs patience when starting seed.
  • Cold stratify: Many perennial seeds need to go through winter-like conditions before germinating. Generally, you can stratify seeds by placing them in a moist towel in the refrigerator for 6-8 weeks. Or, seed into flats, water them in, and keep in a cold place for several weeks before bringing them back into a warm environment for germination.

Needed for: Milkweed, Echinacea, Marshmallow, Double Take Columbine, Stinging Nettle

  • Give light: Because they germinate on the surface in their natural habitat, some varieties need light to germinate. Check the seed packet for germination light requirement. If light is needed, rough up the surface of your seed-starting pot with your fingers and sprinkle the seeds directly on top.

Needed for: Double Take Columbine, Multi-hued Yarrow

  • Nick & soak seeds: Some seeds have a hard seed coat to protect them from adverse conditions. In a tended garden environment, this can make it tough for seeds to germinate. Some seeds need you to rough them up a bit. Soak seeds overnight in warm water, then nick the seed with a razor blade before sowing.

Needed for: Hardy Hibiscus

  • Be patient: A few varieties can take up to three weeks to germinate, which can be a tough test for eager gardeners! Place these sluggish germinators in a special spot so you don't forget them. Keep them moist, but not wet, and sprinkle the surface of the soil with vermiculite help regulate the moisture.

Needed for: Meadow Arnica

  • Sow in the fall: Try as you might to replicate the natural world indoors, some seeds grow really well when given a most natural environment. For the following varieties, prepare a

    Bottom water with a smart vessel like these self watering pots.

    weed free and nicely tilthed spot, mix the seeds with sand, and sprinkle on the surface.

Needed for: Eastern Pollinator Mix, Northeast Native Mix, Johnny Jump Up, Salmon Larkspur