Gardeners can bring vibrant colors, attract butterflies and add beautiful flowers to their gardens with five popular plants. Growing your own transplants from seeds for summer gardens is not difficult. Remember when growing your plants in plastic cell packs that each cell has room for only one plant. North Carolina State University’s Horticulture Department recommends starting your seedlings indoors about four to 12 weeks before the last spring frost. Always read the seed packet’s instructions completely.
Coneflowers. Coneflowers, or Echinacea, are members of the aster family. They are a perennial that is drought tolerant when the plants are established. Coneflowers will thrive in full sun and partial shade. They have distinctive drooping petals in colors such as purple, pink, yellow, white and orange. Coneflowers will attract butterflies.
Geraniums. The Extension Office at Iowa State University states that geraniums are easy to grow from seed but can be slow growing. It is recommended to begin sowing your geranium seeds in mid to late January. They will flower 12 to 16 weeks later and can be transplanted outside after the danger of frost has passed. Geraniums come in red, pink, fuchsia, white and bi-colors. They are a hardy flowering plant that does well in full sun and partial shade.
Marigolds. Like little bursts of sunshine, marigolds brighten any summer garden. Their blooms are an array of warm colors, including oranges, reds and yellows. Grow seedlings indoors in March and April and transplant after the threat of frost, usually in May. Plant your marigolds in borders in full sun. They can survive in some shade, but will bloom better in sun.
Vincas. According to the Colorado State University Extension Office, vincas have been cultivated for centuries in America, Europe, China and India. It has been used as a medicinal plant, treating ailments such as sore throats and coughs and even as a folk remedy for diabetes. Start your vinca seeds about 10 to 12 weeks before the last spring frost and then transplant outside in a sunny area. Vincas are a bright addition to any garden with vibrant green leaves and bold colors including pink, red, fuchsia, purple and more.
Zinnias. Zinnias were named for Dr. Johann Gottfried Zinn, who penned the flower’s first descriptions. Zinnias' colors are mostly solid, including white, yellow, pink, orange, yellow, scarlet and purple. The National Garden Bureau states zinnias are an easy flower to grow from seed and an ideal choice for children to grow in their first garden. They can be started indoors or grown from seeds outdoors, as they are fast growers. Zinnia seeds can be planted in rows or groups after the danger of frost has passed. They like full sun and a well-draining soil.