Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
August, 2012
Regional Report

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This Colorado yarrow, which grew from a self-sown seedling last season, adds late season color and texture among other perennials.

Dependable and Fast-Flowering Perennials

Like many gardeners, I get much satisfaction from growing flowers from seed instead of having to buy them as container-grown plants. It saves me money and I can allow many of these perennials to self-sow.

We are fortunate today to sow seeds of certain perennials and enjoy their beautiful blooms in the first year. Thanks to the ingenuity of plant breeders, these newer varieties don't need a cold treatment before flowering.

With the new fast-flowering perennials there are two classes. The first behaves more like traditional perennials that bloom the first year from seed and for years thereafter. When these plants are a few years old, they should be lifted and divided to renew blooming.

The newer classe of first-season blooming perennials are more like annuals. This group provides a good showing the same year you sow seeds, but they don't rebloom reliably in subsequent years. You treat these plants like annuals and sow new seeds every year.

Among my favorites that provide color and form the same year is 'Colorado' yarrow (Achillea millefolium 'Colorado'). This very hardy yarrow features handsome, deep desert colors of red, pink, apricot, creamy white, and yellow. The flat flower heads are composed of tiny, densely packed individual florets. Beneficial insects are readily attracted to the blooms. In addition, if you like to have fresh bouquets of flowers, 'Colorado' yarrow makes a great cut flower and can be dried for everlasting arrangements.

The seedlings of this yarrow will start flowering in 10 to 12 weeks from sowing. They love full sun and come back reliably every year. Just be aware that yarrow can be aggressive and will self-sow. If you don't deadhead regularly, you'll have seedlings popping up in areas of the garden where they may not be wanted. Seedlings will transplant easily, so you can relocate them or share with gardening friends.

There are many other fast-flowering perennials that can be grown from seed started in early spring. Some others in my garden include 'Lavender Lady' lavender, 'Compliment' lobelia, 'Cambridge' dwarf penstemon, 'Early Sunrise' coreopsis, and 'Honey Bee' agastache.

Be sure to check out your favorite seed sources to discover these and other reliable fast-flowering perennials that will provide color and beauty in your garden the same season.

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