Planting Summer Flowers

i am so excited to have my husband, luke, in this space sharing his tips for planting annual flowers! if you have a garden-related topic that you'd like us to blog about, please comment below! thanks!

When we first moved to our farm and were planning out the garden Natalie had to convince me to devote space to flowers instead of planting it all to vegetables. I was reluctant, but conceded to her request. By the time the zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers were in bloom I was so glad I let Natalie persuade me. Seeing our summer garden with flowers in full bloom always brings a smile to my face.

Here I’m going to discuss seeding summer flowers like zinnias and sunflowers, which we just planted in our own garden this week. For those of you in our region (Zone 6) it is time to plant summer flowers! For those of you North of us, wait to seed until soils have warmed or transplant after you’ve passed your last spring frost date. 

I usually start zinnias from seed in the greenhouse, but this year I wasn’t able to so I’m just going to be talking about directly seeding in this post. Like with our directly-sown vegetable crops I start by digging a shallow furrow with a triangle hoe to plant into. I like having my drip tape laid out first so that I can use it as a guide to keep my rows straight.   

Zinnias might just be our favorite garden flower. They are so vibrant and colorful and make beautiful summer bouquets. Especially since we can’t buy zinnias at the store, they are such a special treat to grow in the garden and have in our home.

Because zinnia seed is light and non-uniform I find it easiest to sprinkle by hand. Zinnias should be sown 2 inches apart and then thinned to 9-12 inches between plants once they are starting to crowd. I recommend using a ruler at first to get a good handle on the correct spacing. They only need to be buried a 1/4 inch deep, so be sure your furrow isn’t too deep.

Sunflowers are a must for our garden as well. Not only are sunflowers a gorgeous accent in the garden, they are great for attracting and feeding pollinators which are vital for your flowering summer vegetable crops.

Because sunflower seed is large and fairly uniform I find it easiest to use the seed packet as a little seeder. I fold the lip of the packet so that the seed comes out one at a time and I tap the side of the packet to control how fast the seed slips out. Sunflowers can also be sown at 2 inches between seeds, 1/2 inch deep. Thin to 4-6 inches between single-stem varieties and 18-24 inches between branching varieties once the seedlings have started to grow.

Once the seeds have been dropped in the furrow I will use a trowel to scrape the soil back into the trench and cover the seed. Be careful not to bury the seed too deep. And make sure there is good seed-soil contact when you cover the seed, even taking the flat end of the trowel to pat down the soil to make sure it is firm.

Lastly, be sure to water in the seed thoroughly giving the beds a good soak with a water hose. I use drip tape for irrigation, but I will still water in my seeds with a hose-end sprayer to make sure they have plenty of soil moisture for germination. And be sure to keep the beds from drying out until the seedlings emerge. At this point it is critical that your seeds have plenty of moisture.

Stay tuned to see how our zinnias and sunflowers do this year. I can’t wait for those summer blooms!


P.S. If you'd like to purchase flower seeds for your own garden, we have our favorite varieties for purchase at Freckled Hen Farmhouse. Click HERE to shop our selection of garden seeds!


Melodie said...

Oh i'm glad she managed to convince you because flowers are always a cheerful sign that the seasons are changing and i'm loving it!
Yours are gorgeous and if i had a garden i would get them all!

Unknown said...

I know you probably do zero container gardening, but I'd love a farmer's advice on growing veggies, herbs and flowers in raised beds or in window boxes! I wonder if you would have any insight that we city mice may not have! Thank you for your thoughtful content! Though I don't have a large garden, I love seeing your hard work pay off!!

Unknown said...

I am planting zinnias again but sunflowers for the first time! How far apart did you space your sunflower seeds from your zinnia seeds?

Luke Freeman said...

Sandra - I would go with smaller, shallow-rooted plants for your window boxes. Herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano, chives, basil, sage. Lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens. Or small flowers like pansies or alyssum.

Abigail - I would space the rows 24 inches apart so the sunflowers and zinnias don't shade each other out. Good luck with the sunflowers!

Anonymous said...

Do you have problems with rabbits? They gobble up my sunflowers just as they are emerging. I am one angry woman about all the interference those rascals have caused. Any ideas?

Luke Freeman said...

Kim - that would drive me crazy too! Thankfully we don't have problems with rabbits. You could put up a fence to keep them out or cover the sunflower planting with row cover or netting until the plants are tall enough so that they can withstand a little feeding from the rabbits.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to know more about your greenhouse. I want one, but I need it to be affordable. I live in Santa Fe, NM. Thanks!

Luke Freeman said...

Hi Katie, I'm fortunate enough to have access to a greenhouse at my work at the university research farm so we haven't had to build a greenhouse on our own property. If we get to the point of needing our own greenhouse I would look into models from

Elizabeth said...

Hi! I love y'all's gardening posts! This inspired me to go ahead and get my flowers seeds in the ground that I had but just never made the jump! I would love to see more about y'all's herb gardening! Basil and pineapple sage are my faves, what's yours? :)

Luke Freeman said...

Hi Elizabeth, good recommendation! We'll try to get an herb gardening post out soon! Our favorites are basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro, dill, rosemary, mint, and lavender. Long list but we love our herbs!

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