15 Flowering Perennials to Seed Indoors This February

When February comes, many gardeners are ordering from seed catalogs, eager to get started growing in the spring. February is a great month to start seeding your favorite perennials indoors. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares her favorite perennial plants you can start seeding in February!

february perennials

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In many climates, February is not a month I would consider “gardening weather”. Where I live, this is usually our snowiest and coldest month of the year. It is the cold and the cabin fever that can really get my garden dreams going, however.

While many gardeners start vegetables indoors in February, it’s also a great month to start planting some perennials by seed indoors. In warmer climates, you can even start direct sowing outdoors. Some gardeners in cold climates opt to winter sow their seeds.

Starting seeds early enough will give your seedlings enough time to mature so that they will be nice and strong when you are ready to plant them in your garden when spring comes. If you are looking to grow some perennials from seed this year, here are a few options for you to start growing this February!

Seed Starting Basics

Close-up of male hands pouring potting soil with a spatula into eco-friendly pots for planting seeds, on a white table. There are also a large paper bag of soil, bowls of various seeds, and eco-friendly pots on the table.
It is recommended to use a seed starting mix as this material is light and does not retain much water, which prevents rotting.

Seed starting is fairly easy once you have the basics under your belt. I will not get into the nitty-gritty of seed starting, but I will cover a few things that I am going to be talking about to make sure everything is clear.

Last Frost Date

This date will vary depending on where you live. You can quickly search where you live and “last frost date” and you will have no trouble finding your average last frost date.

Trays or Pots

Whether you plant your seeds in trays or pots is totally up to you. I tend to use pots more regularly and prefer them because I do not need to transplant them as often. I also usually hold on to my annual pots from season to season, so I always have some hanging out in the shed.

Growing Mix

Growing mix or seed starting mix is important to use because it is a nice light material without any soil. This allows your seeds to germinate easily without any pushback from the soil. It typically does not hold as much water as the soil does which can help to prevent any seeds from rotting or damping off.

Hardening Off

This is the final step before you can plant your seedlings safely in the ground. Once temperatures have risen and you are well out of the threat of frost, take your trays or pots outside every day for a week or so. Bring them in at night. This exposure will allow the seedlings to acclimate to their surroundings and prevent any shock once they are planted.

Baby’s Breath

Flowering plant Gypsophila spp. in a sunny garden, on a blurred green background. The plant has thin, branched stems, at the top of each are numerous clusters of small, delicate white flowers.
This incredibly beautiful perennial produces delicate white or pink flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Gypsophila spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

That’s right, baby’s breath. The pretty white flowers that typically come in bouquets from the florist are also beautiful garden plants. This perennial ground cover comes in white flowers or light pink flowers.

Begin indoor sowing 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Cover your seeds lightly with about ¼ inch of growing mix. Keep the soil moist. Your baby’s breath seedlings should begin to emerge in about 2 weeks.

Baby’s breath will self-sow, or you can plant your seeds directly in your garden soil if you don’t want to start your seeds indoors.

Beardtongue

Flowering perennial Penstemon spp. in the garden, on a blurry green background. The plant has spikes of tubular flowers that are hot pink in color with dark pink veins in the centers.
Beardtongue is a perennial that produces beautiful tubular flowers in bright colors.
botanical-name botanical name Penstemon spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 1-8 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide (species dependant)
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

If you are not familiar with beardtongue, this is a good time to get acquainted with it. The flowers on this perennial are tube-shaped and brightly colored. If you deadhead the blossoms you will get another bloom out of your plant which will extend the bloom period.

Beardtongue will be ready for sowing 8 weeks before your last frost. Place seeds on the surface of the soil and very lightly cover the seeds with the soil. Pat the soil to keep it firm, and water to keep the soil evenly moist. Seedlings will emerge in 21 days.

Black Eyed Susan

Close-up of a Rudbeckia hirta in a flower bed in a garden. The plant has tall, thin, hairy stems with daisy-like flowers with rays of bright yellow petals and dark brown central discs. The leaves are rough, lanceolate, hairy.
Black Eyed Susan produces delightful bright yellow daisy-like flowers with dark brown centers.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia hirta
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Black-eyed susans are an all-time classic perennial. Its yellow daisy-like flowers with brown centers are a staple in many gardens.

Starting black-eyed susans from seed is fairly simple. You will need to sow your seeds 10 weeks before your last frost date. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep in trays filled with growing mix. You should notice your plants germinating in about 1-3 weeks.

You can also sow black-eyed susan seeds right into your garden. However, this should be done in the summer or fall when your soil can maintain warmer temperatures to support germination.

Columbine

Flowering Columbine plant in a sunny garden, against a blurred leafy background. The plant has large beautiful five-petalled flowers with long receding spurs in the form of bag-shaped extensions of the petals. The sepals are bright purple and the petals are pure white.
Columbine has delightful flowers that attract hummingbirds.
botanical-name botanical name Aquilegia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full or partial sun
height height 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

This native wildflower has some of the most unique flowers I have seen on a perennial. Columbine blooms in several different colors and will attract hummingbirds to your garden.

Collecting seeds from your columbine plant is really easy. Once your flowers have dried up, it will be easy to locate the seed pod. Snip this from your plant and break it open to reveal black seeds. Tuck these away over the winter in your refrigerator.

When you are ready to sow your seeds lay the seeds on top of the soil, and lightly cover them with additional soil. Keep your trays in the sun. You will begin to see seedlings emerge in 3-4 weeks.

Columbine seeds can be sown into your garden in the springtime if you are not up for planting trays indoors. You can also leave the spent flowers on your plant which will allow the seeds to drop naturally and self-sow right into your garden soil.

Coneflower

Flowering plant Echinacea purpurea in a garden. The plant has large flowers with long, oval, thin, drooping, bright purple petals and copper-colored central cones.
Echinacea purpurea seeds need to be chilled for a few weeks before planting.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea purpurea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-5 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-8

Another popular wildflower, coneflower is very heat tolerant and easy to grow perennial. These plants come in just about every color in the rainbow (except blue of course). Coneflowers will fill your garden with beautiful flowers all summer long.

You can collect your coneflower seeds or you can purchase some from your garden center or an online retailer. Seeds should be chilled for a few weeks before planting. This will help to mimic the colder outdoor temperatures. Plant these seeds at a depth of ½ inch. Your seeds will begin to germinate in about 2 weeks.

Because coneflowers are quick to germinate, they can also be seeded in March if you decide to start seeding a little later in the season.

Coreopsis

Flowering Coreopsis plant in a sunny garden. The plant has a mass of bright, showy, daisy-like flowers, bright yellow with orange centers.
This perennial grows well in full sun and sandy soil.
botanical-name botanical name Coreopsis spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-4 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 2-11

Coreopsis is a great perennial to grow from seed. This plant will be covered in yellow, orange, or red flowers all summer long, and often well into the fall. The foliage is lacy and attractive. Coreopsis loves the full sun and will grow well in sandy soil.

Coreopsis seeds should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. Plant your seeds ½ inch deep in your growing mix. Seedlings should begin to emerge in 2 to 3 weeks.

Once the seedlings have emerged, move your trays to a sunny window. Keep the soil moist. Harden off the seedlings for a week before planting outside.

Dianthus

Close-up of a flowering Dianthus plant in the garden. The plant produces globular clusters of tiny, round, disc-shaped flowers, bright pink in color with scalloped edges on the petals.
Dianthus produces tiny carnation-like flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Dianthus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This perennial is closely related to the carnation, and the small flowers that grow on dianthus look like tiny carnations. They bloom in a variety of colors, mainly different shades of pink and white, in spring on top of narrow lance-shaped foliage. Deadheading these flowers will promote blooming throughout the growing season.

Begin planting your dianthus seeds 8 weeks before your projected last frost date. These seeds will quickly germinate in about 10 days as long as they are kept warm in a sunny location with nice moist soil.

False Sunflower

Close-up of a blooming Heliopsis helianthoides in a garden. The plant has tall stems with large, daisy-like bright yellow flowers, the petals of which are surrounded by brownish-yellow central cones. The leaves are dark green, ovate with serrated edges.
False Sunflower is a tall perennial that produces large yellow flowers with brownish-yellow central cones.
botanical-name botanical name Heliopsis helianthoides
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 3-6 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

If you love sunflowers but only wish they would return each year, the false sunflower is about as close as you are going to get. These tall perennials are topped with large yellow flowers that resemble sunflowers. These native wildflowers are very tolerant of many growing conditions.

Start your false sunflower seeds indoors about 6 weeks before your last frost date. Cover your seeds with about ⅛ inch of the growing mix, and keep the soil moist.

Plant your seedlings once the threat of frost has passed. False sunflowers will not produce flowers in the first year, but get ready for the second year when the plant will be mature enough to produce tons of happy yellow flowers.

Globe Thistle

Flowering Globe Thistle plant in a garden, against a blurry background. The plant has globular, thistle-like, dark purple flower heads and dark green leaves with deep lobes.
Globe Thistle produces purple or white flowers in a ball shape and grows well in full sun.
botanical-name botanical name Echinops spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-5 feet tall, 1-4 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This is one of my favorite perennials. The purple or white globe-shaped flowers add a lot of interest to your garden. Globe thistle is a very tough plant growing in most soil conditions as long as it is getting lots of sunlight!

Collect seeds from your globe thistle in the fall, or buy some from a retailer. These seeds will need to be chilled before they can be planted indoors. You can do this by putting them in a wet growing mix, or a damp paper towel and keeping them in the fridge.

Sow your seeds 2 months before your last frost date. Cover the seeds lightly with the soil, and keep the soil moist. Your baby globe thistles should emerge in about 2 weeks.

Gaura

Flowering plant Gaura lindheimeri in the garden. The plant has blade-thin stems covered with tiny, white, butterfly-shaped flowers and small, oblong, pink buds.
This perennial has tiny butterfly-shaped flowers that grow on thin stems.
botanical-name botanical name Gaura lindheimeri
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-3 feet
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

Gaura is a breezy perennial. The tiny butterfly-shaped flowers grow on stems that are as thick as a blade of grass. They are beautiful when planted in a container or windowboxes, as well as in your gardens. Gaura comes in light or bright pink, and white.

Gaura will take up to 30 days to germinate. Place your trays in the sunlight and do not cover the seeds, rather just gently press them into the surface of the soil. Keep the soil moist, and transplant when the threat of frost has passed.

Hollyhock Mallow

Flowering Hollyhock Mallow plant in a sunny garden. The plant has a tall, sturdy stem covered with large, dark green, lobed leaves and small, bright pink, 5-petaled flowers. Petals have dark pink oblong veins.
Hollyhock Mallow is a bushy plant with lovely pink flowers.
botanical-name botanical name Malva spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full – Partial Sun
height height 2-4 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-7

This garden favorite is a beautiful perennial to add to your cottage gardens. The flowers on this wildflower are a lovely light pink, they look very similar to hollyhock flowers.

This plant is very easy to grow from seed. You can direct sow hollyhock mallow seeds right into the garden in the spring once the temperatures have warmed up and the soil can maintain its warmth. Or you can get started indoors 8-10 weeks before your last frost.

Press the seeds lightly into the soil and cover them with a bit of soil. Keep the soil moist and your seedlings will emerge in about 2 weeks.

Red Hot Poker

Close-up of a flowering plant Kniphofia spp. in a sunny garden. The plant has tall thick stems, on the tops of which grow large orange-yellow flower stalks. Peduncles consist of many narrow tubular flowers.
Red Hot Poker is a tall, perennial plant that produces large flower stalks in shades of red, orange and yellow.
botanical-name botanical name Kniphofia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 3-4 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

If you are looking for a tall plant that will take your garden to the next level, red hot poker is an awesome option. This tall plant sports large flower spikes in shades of red, orange, and yellow. The red hot poker will rebloom if you deadhead the spent flowers.

Sow your red hot poker seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before your last frost date. This plant forms tap roots which are long deep roots.

You will want to make sure that you are using pots rather than a tray here when sowing your seeds. Keep your soil moist and warm. Seedlings should emerge in about a month.

Rose Campion

Close-up of a flowering Lychnis coronaria plant in a garden. This bushy plant has ovate, densely hairy, silvery-gray leaves and bright purple flowers with glowing white centers.
Rose Campion is an amazing perennial that grows well in full sun and is tolerant of most soil types.
botanical-name botanical name Lychnis coronaria
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to partial sun
height height 1-2 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

This is a beautiful perennial with brightly colored flowers. These flowers could range in shades of pink or white. The foliage is a soft silver. Grow rose campion in full sun and well-drained soil. This perennial is tolerant of most soil types, even rocky and sandy soil. The flowers will easily self-seed into your garden if you do not deadhead them.

Whether you have purchased your rose campion seeds or you have collected them from existing plants in your gardens, these seeds will need to be cold-stratified before you can sow them. Stick the seeds in a moist paper towel and place them in a zip-top bag.

Keep them in the fridge for about a month. When you are ready to sow fill your treys with soil and press the seeds into the top of the soil.

This should be done about 8-10 weeks before your last frost date. Keep the soil moist. Seeds should germinate within a month. Harden the seeds off for about a week, and plant in your gardens.

Shasta Daisy

Close-up of blooming Shasta daisies in a sunny garden. The flowers are large, and have elongated, oval, white petals, arranged around yellow disc-shaped inflorescences.
Shasta Daisy produces large flowers with white elongated petals and bright yellow centers.
botanical-name botanical name Leucanthemum x superbum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full to partial sun
height height 1-3 feet tall, 1-2 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-9

When you close your eyes and picture a daisy, you are likely thinking of a shasta daisy. These perennials are native to California and are tolerant of many growing conditions. The flowers are large and white with sunny centers.

Eight weeks before your last frost date you can begin to prepare your trays and sow your seeds. Lightly cover your seeds with ⅛ inch of growing mix.

Keep your soil moist, but not too wet. Seedlings should begin to emerge in about 2-3 weeks. Once your seedlings emerge, move your trays to a sunny window before transplanting them into your garden.

Yarrow

Close-up of a flowering plant Achillea millefolium in the garden. The plant has flat clusters of small white flowers and thin, dark green fern-like leaves.
Yarrow seeds should be sown 6-8 weeks before the last frost.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full Sun
height height 2-3 feet tall, 2-3 feet wide
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This garden favorite is a wildflower that is also a beautiful perennial. This plant is very tough and grows well even in the poorest of soil. Yarrow is available in many different colors ranging from pink to yellow, and orange. The foliage is fernlike and silvery green.

Sow yarrow seeds 6-8 weeks before your last frost. Prepare your trays with growing mix and sow the yarrow seeds on top of the soil.

Lightly press the seeds down, do not cover them with soil. Keep the soil moist. Seedlings will begin to emerge in 2-3 weeks. Harden the seedlings off for a week before planting them in your garden.

Final Thoughts

Starting your seeds indoors in February is a really fun way to get started on planning your garden when the weather is still too cold. Growing perennials from seed can take some patience. Have faith in those little seeds, they know what they are doing. Be sure to provide light moisture, adequate sunlight, and airflow to prevent any rotting. Happy planting!

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