15 Flowering Perennials to Direct Seed this February

Itching to get the garden growing? There’s plenty to do in late winter, including direct seeding hardy perennials. In cold climates, look for seeds that require periods of chill and moisture to germinate. Cold stratification benefits many beautiful flowering perennials that can be directly sown this February to emerge in spring. Follow garden professional Katherine Rowe in exploring the possibilities of direct seeding perennials in winter.

an herbaceous perennial bed with colorful flowers shines in the sun.

Contents

Growing perennials from seed is a rewarding process made more manageable through direct seeding. Direct seeding means planting seeds directly in the ground without first sprouting them indoors or in a greenhouse. Sowing directly in the garden is a space-saver when it comes to seed starting and reduces materials and maintenance.

With flowering perennials, direct sowing in late winter usually entails scattering seeds on a clean soil surface, lightly covering them to nestle in, and letting nature take its course. Many perennials need periods of cold temperatures and moisture for spring germination. This cold stratification exposes seeds to natural freeze and thaw cycles, breaking down the seed coating for emergence in warmer temperatures.

Direct seeding perennials in February allows seeds their required cold exposure in preparation for spring. Sowing outdoors is especially beneficial in cold climates, where late-season snowfall and cold rains provide insulation and moisture. Winter sowing and starting seeds indoors are viable options, too.

For success with direct seeding this month, rely on perennials that naturally reseed in the landscape. Hardy perennials, including natives, bear seeds well-suited to overwintering outdoors. Those requiring cold stratification may emerge stronger for it.

In the fall, when your perennial garden has flourished and gone to seed, collect and scatter them directly or leave them to drop naturally. Stop deadheading flowering perennials in late summer so seeds can set – beneficial for the garden and wildlife as a winter food source.

Agastache

A close-up of the exquisite bloom of the Agastache plant, delicate lavender-hued flowers cascade elegantly, forming a captivating display. The verdant green leaves serve as a lush canvas, with a subtle blur revealing a harmonious background.
This plant serves as a plentiful nectar supply for various pollinators.
botanical-name botanical name Agastache foeniculum
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Agastache, or anise hyssop, adds vertical interest with upright stems lined with delicate tubular blooms. The showiest of the native mints, Agastache foeniculum is an old garden favorite with purple-blue bloom spikes that rise above gray-green, aromatic foliage. Anise hyssop is a rich nectar source for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

This plant is native to northern North America and has a widespread range. Agastache blooms profusely in summer through frost and pairs beautifully with other flowering perennials like aster, salvia, solidago, and blue-eyed grass. 

Anise hyssop is a rugged perennial that thrives in full sun in various soil types as long as they’re well-draining. Direct sow seeds in fall and winter to give them plenty of natural cold-stratification. Cut back spent blooms to enjoy prolific flowering all season.

Black-eyed Susan

A vibrant Black-eyed Susan blossom with bright yellow petals and a dark brown central disk, displaying nature's intricate symmetry. The flower radiates warmth, standing out against a backdrop of lush green leaves, capturing the essence of summer's beauty.
These easy-care perennials enhance the garden bed when planted in groups.
botanical-name botanical name Rudbeckia fulgida
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 2-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Black-eyed Susan blooms nonstop from summer through frost in a spectacular show of golden daisy flowers. Bright blooms have chocolate centers and rise prolifically on single stems. A native wildflower, rudbeckia grows naturally in meadows and prairies.

Black-eyed Susans are long-blooming perennials native to parts of the South, Central, and Western United States. They’re adaptable plants that thrive in various conditions, including heat, humidity, and drought. Easy care rudbeckia brightens the garden bed when planted in groups, along borders, and as specimens in meadow and cottage gardens. 

To direct seed this perennial in February, scatter seeds and tamp into place lightly. Seeds need light to germinate and don’t require much cover.

Columbine

A close-up of Columbine flower reveals its intricate structure. The distinct spurred petals surround a central core, resembling a beautiful dancer in a poised stance. The soft, pastel hues add a touch of elegance to the garden scene.
With interesting blooms and appealing compound leaves, columbine is an elegant native wildflower.
botanical-name botanical name Aquilegia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial sun
height height 18-24″
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Columbine is a graceful native wildflower with origami-like blooms and attractive compound leaves. As temperatures warm, flowers appear like lanterns floating on tall spikes. The nodding blooms range from vibrant red and yellow to beautiful blues, purples, and pinks, depending on the variety.

Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) bears showy red and yellow bell flowers, perennializes well, and spreads by self-seeding. Aquilegia coerulea, the popular Rocky Mountain blue columbine, brings heirloom violet and white blooms with yellow stamens to the western garden. Hummingbirds and other pollinators appreciate the nectar from the tubular blooms, and birds feed on the seeds in fall.

Columbine is native to cold climates and benefits from a cold period of 30 days (or more) to germinate. Scatter these perennial seeds in February on the soil surface and cover them lightly with soil to keep them in place.

With a natural habitat along woodland edges, clearings, and riverbanks, columbine grows best in moderately moist, well-drained soils (not too wet or dry). Protect it from hot afternoon sun in warm months. Columbine is semi-evergreen and will retain its basal leaves unless temperatures are too cold or too hot, where it enters dormancy until temps level off.

Penstemon

A close-up captures the beauty of Penstemon's pink flowers, showcasing delicate petals and intricate details. The lush green leaves surrounding the blooms add a rich backdrop, complementing the overall elegance. Slender long stems gracefully support the blossoms.
Numerous penstemon species are grown for their vibrant flowers and rich green leaves.
botanical-name botanical name Penstemon spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 6-72″
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Many species of penstemon, or beardtongue, are native to the U.S. and widely cultivated because of their brilliant blooms and dark green foliage. Tubular flowers in shades of violet-blue to scarlet produce nectar that pollinators find irresistible.

Penstemons are long-lived, heirloom perennials tolerant of varying conditions and drought. They grow best in dry, light, well-drained soils. These perennial seeds benefit from cold stratification, so sow in February to allow exposure to cold temperatures and moisture.

Delphinium

A close-up of the enchanting blue flowers of the Delphinium plant, each petal holding a hint of ethereal grace. Soft, thin stems and green leaves create a delicate dance, capturing the plant's gentle demeanor. In the blurred background, lush greenery provides a serene setting.
The winter sowing method and direct sowing are effective ways to propagate Delphinium.
botanical-name botanical name Delphinium spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-6’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-7

This is an elegant perennial with large, deep blue bell flowers on tall stems. The winter sowing method is a good option for propagating from seed. Direct sowing is also worth trying for those glorious summer bloom spikes.

Delphinium is cold-hardy with a widespread range from the edge of the American West to the Southeast. Light to deep blue blooms rise on three-foot stems above lobed leaves, creating waves of blue in open meadows in early spring through summer.

Delphinium grows best in cool climates. In warm areas, plants die back in the summer heat and grow as annuals. In these regions, start seeds as soon as temperatures cool in the fall for a spring display.

Tall varieties may require staking and benefit from deadheading the spent blooms. Delphinium needs moist and well-drained soils; they’re susceptible to crown rot and mildew if conditions are too moist.  Full sun conditions stave off powdery mildew.

Echinacea

A close-up of a vibrant Echinacea flower, its delicate petals painted in hues of pink, gracefully encircling a radiant golden center. The surrounding floral companions create a soft, blurred backdrop, accentuating the focal beauty of the Echinacea bloom.
This natural prairie plant requires well-draining soils for optimal growth.
botanical-name botanical name Echinacea purpurea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Echinacea is a favorite summer bloomer in vibrant hues of purples, pinks, reds, yellows, and oranges. Ray flowers surround a pronounced center of disc florets, a prime nectar source for beneficial insects. Dried seed heads bring lasting winter interest and provide food for wildlife.

Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower, is a quintessential garden native with purple petals surrounding an orange center. A natural prairie plant, coneflower thrives in summer heat and full sun. Well-draining soils are a must for best growth.

Coneflower grows in a variety of climates and reseeds naturally. Scatter seeds in fall or winter for spring germination; echinacea seeds benefit from winters spent outdoors.

Bluebells

A close-up of Bluebells showcasing their exquisite blue flowers against a backdrop of lush green leaves. The verdant foliage gracefully complements the vivid blooms, and the plants are rooted in rich brown soil, grounding them in nature's embrace.
For successful germination, bluebell seeds benefit from scarification and cold stratification.
botanical-name botanical name Mertensia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Partial to full shade
height height 1-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Bluebells add the sweetest splash of blue-violet to the garden. In spring and summer, bell-shaped flowers suspend gracefully from leafy, arching stems above dense crowns.

Native bluebells inhabit both the western and eastern U.S.: Mertensia ciliata, or mountain bluebell, and Mertensia virginica, Virginia bluebell, respectively. Both are cold-hardy and reseed in ideal conditions, and mountain bluebell tolerates hot and dry sites

Bluebell seeds benefit from scarification and cold stratification to germinate. Rub seeds with a medium-grit sandpaper before sowing. Bluebells grow best in moist conditions, with a natural habitat of stream banks, wet meadows, and moist woodlands. But they need good air circulation to prevent mildew.

Gaillardia

A close-up of a Gaillardia plant reveals its striking flowers, showcasing a burst of warm hues, with prominent red and yellow petals surrounding a central disk. Adjacent to the blossoms, lush green leaves provide a rich backdrop, contributing to the overall beauty of the Gaillardia plant.
As a robust perennial, Gaillardia is an excellent choice for a late winter direct sow.
botanical-name botanical name Gaillardia spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Gaillardia, or blanketflower, brightens the garden with its riot of daisy-like flowers in gold, orange, red, and bi-color. Brown button centers punctuate the ray petals. This North American native reseeds readily, often blooms in its first growing season, and is drought and heat-tolerant.

Gaillardia blooms throughout the summer and fall and is a carefree performer. It grows in poor, sandy soils and adapts to various site conditions. With well-drained soil, it needs little else. Even the seeds have no special requirements to germinate. A tough perennial seed, it’s a good one to try for a February direct sow. 

Liatris

A close-up of Liatris plants display their elegance through lavender flower spikes, gracefully stretching upwards. The slender stems supporting the blossoms exude strength and flexibility, adding to the plant's unique charm. Further down, the lush green leaves contribute a complementary contrast, enhancing the visual appeal of the entire Liatris plant.
Blazing star is resilient to cold, heat, and drought once it has established itself.
botanical-name botanical name Liatris spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

Blazing star, or gayfeather, holds dense flowers in purples, pinks, and whites on tall, upright stems. Arching, fine-bladed foliage forms clumps beneath the leafy masses.

Liatris are hardy perennials native to North America, from Canada to Florida, depending on the species. Blazing star is cold-hardy, withstands heat, and is quite drought-tolerant once established. Liatris benefits from four to six weeks of cold and moist stratification from late winter sowing.

Lupine

A close-up captures the intricate beauty of Lupine's blue flowers, their delicate petals forming a striking contrast against the backdrop. The slender stem gracefully supports the blossoms, while lush green leaves add depth to the composition amidst a blurred tapestry of surrounding plants.
These ornamental flowers exhibit grace in diverse wild conditions.
botanical-name botanical name Lupinus spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 1-5’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-8

Lupine enchants the spring and summer landscape with lovely bell-shaped blooms in blues, purples, pinks, whites, yellows, and bicolors. These graceful ornamental flowers grow in various wild conditions – from dry to moist, hot to cold, and in less-than-ideal soils.

Depending on the species, lupine is native to eastern North America (wild lupine) and western North America (meadow lupine). Flowers are often two-toned in purple and blue or blue and white. Palmate leaves form an attractive and standout base.

Sow lupine seeds by scattering them outdoors in fall or winter. Snowfall provides insulation until seeds germinate in the spring.

Monarda

A close-up of Monarda plants showcasing their exquisite flowers, bursting with hues that attract pollinators. The green leaves, with their distinct shape and texture, complement the floral display, creating a visually captivating scene in nature's palette.
It is recommended to sow monarda seeds in the fall or early winter.
botanical-name botanical name Monarda didyma
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 2-4’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Monarda didyma, or bee balm, is native to the eastern U.S. and is a favorite garden performer due to its resilient nature and outstanding scarlet blooms. Flared flowers cluster on stems above minty foliage.

Numerous hybrids offer vibrant flowers in purple, pink, and red hues. ‘Jacob Cline’ in brilliant red is a hardy variety with good powdery-mildew resistance. The bloom season is long, lasting from early summer through fall. 

It’s best to sow monarda seeds in fall or early winter before the first frost, but late winter seeding can yield success through natural chill and moisture cycles. Winter sowing and then transplanting seedlings to the garden is another option.

Monarda spreads by both seed and rhizome. Divide plants and weed out volunteers to keep them in check. It grows best with good air circulation, organic soils, and consistent moisture.

Yarrow

A close-up of a Yarrow plant reveals delicate clusters of light pink flowers, each tiny bloom forming a stunning display. The slender branches gracefully support the blossoms, creating an elegant composition. In the blurred background, lush greenery adds depth to the enchanting floral scene.
Yarrow flourishes with minimal care in a sunny spot with well-draining soil.
botanical-name botanical name Achillea millefolium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun
height height 1-3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 3-9

This plant brings feathery texture and vivid color to the garden. Large, flat flower heads attract pollinators. Ruggedly adaptable, yarrow is a vigorous grower that we should use more in the perennial bed.

Yarrow is a North American native available in cultivars ranging in size from short with petite flower stalks to tall and upright. All give high contrast to the garden and bear gorgeous colors, from salmon to pink to scarlet. The classic A. millefolium features sunny yellow bloom clusters on tall stems.

Yarrow is a low-maintenance, full-sun, drought-tolerant perennial. It doesn’t need much more than a sunny spot with well-draining soil to do well in the garden. This February, scatter these perennial seeds on the soil surface and press them in place to establish complete contact and keep them from migrating.

Foxglove

A close-up of Foxglove plants, vibrant pink flowers steal the spotlight, showcasing their intricate beauty. The soft focus of the background unveils a tapestry of green leaves and additional blooms, enhancing the overall allure of the garden.
Busy bees are irresistibly drawn to each flower along these loaded stems.
botanical-name botanical name Digitalis purpurea
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3-4′
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 4-9

Foxgloves bear stunning bell flowers on tall, sturdy stems. Bloom colors range from rose to creamy white to peach, often with freckled throats. Busy bees can’t resist stopping at each flower along the loaded stems.

Its basal leaves are thick and leathery, and a mass planting yields an impactful garden display of abundant bloom spikes above the dense foliage. Foxgloves create a flowering backdrop for poppies, snapdragons, hosta, heuchera, and astilbe. They grow best in part sun in consistently moist, organically rich soils with good drainage.

Digitalis seeds prefer surface-sowing without burying. Lightly rake the area to nestle in seeds so they don’t drift or wash.

Lavender

A close-up reveals delicate lavender flowers, displaying vibrant shades of purple. The long stems gracefully support the blossoms, creating a picturesque scene. In the background, more lavender plants add to the enchanting lavender field.
Plant seeds shallowly in a sunny location for insulation and exposure to light.
botanical-name botanical name Lavandula spp.
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 3’
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8 

Lavender carries a refreshing fragrance, silvery foliage, and purple blooms. It has many uses – from cleansing to culinary. Whether it’s one of the many English, French, Spanish, or Dutch varieties, lavender makes a showy, evergreen garden specimen. 

Combine lavender with ornamental grasses, echinacea, rudbeckia, yarrow, and other perennials that thrive in dry conditions. This sun-loving Mediterranean plant grows in arid, warm summers and cool winters. In areas with cold winters, look for hardy varieties like Lavendula angustifolia ‘Munstead,’ an early bloomer with a compact habit

Lavender can be challenging for direct seeding in winter, but it does benefit from the chill period. Plant seeds shallowly in a sunny location to give insulation while allowing exposure to light. 

Feverfew

A close-up exhibits the Feverfew plant showcases its white flowers adorned with bright yellow centers, exuding purity and warmth. The gracefully branching flowers form an intricate pattern, enhancing the plant's natural beauty and charm.
Deadheading not only prevents unwanted seeding but also promotes more abundant flowering.
botanical-name botanical name Tanacetum parthenium
sun-requirements sun requirements Full sun to partial shade
height height 12-36”
hardiness-zones hardiness zones 5-8

Feverfew is an old garden favorite due to its bushels of petite daisy-like flowers and their accompanying herbal uses. Blooms last from early summer through frost, and foliage is feathery and aromatic.

This sun-loving plant is easy to grow in moist, well-drained soils. It self-seeds hardily, so pull any unwanted volunteers and deadhead spent blooms to prevent unwanted seeding. Deadheading also proliferates flowering. Use feverfew in naturalized areas where it can reseed freely or in borders and rock gardens.

Seeding feverfew in late winter, a few weeks before the last frost date yields good germination results. Scatter seeds and lightly tamp them in for contact with the soil and exposure to sunlight. 

Final Thoughts

Direct seeding in February grants many perennials the cold and moisture cycles necessary to germinate. For best results, opt for flowering perennials that readily reseed in the landscape. Hardy perennials, including natives, produce seeds adapted to overwinter in the ground.

Experiment with seeding on bare, scuffed soil and give a light soil cover. Late-season snowfall insulates the seeds, and cold rains provide moisture. As temperatures warm, seeds germinate and begin actively growing.

Growing flowering perennials by direct seeding brings lasting color, form, and texture to the landscape efficiently and economically. There’s also the element of surprise in seeing what emerges come spring. Delight in seeding your new garden plantings – signs of spring will follow!

SHARE THIS POST
A vibrant field bursts with an array of purple, orange, and yellow flowers, their petals swaying gently in the breeze. The sunlight dances across the blooms, casting vivid hues and creating a mesmerizing tapestry of nature's palette.

Flowers

How to Plant & Grow a Wildflower Garden from Seed

Wildflowers enliven the garden with colorful blooms and swaying textures. They are an essential source of food and shelter for pollinators and wildlife and provide valuable ecosystem services. With a few sound steps to prepare, you can create a flourishing wildflower garden from seed. Explore best practices for growing a wildflower garden with garden expert Katherine Rowe.

A tidy garden with grass and various drought-resistant plants uses light-colored rocks as mulch.

Mulch

Do Rocks Make Good Mulch?

Rocks are often used as mulch in gardens, but are they the best choice? Master Naturalist Sarah Jay takes a deep dive into the topic, outlining the types of rocks you can garden with and how to use them.

Vegetables in the garden in the month of February.

Vegetables

15 Vegetables to Start Seeding in February

When winter is almost over, but it’s not quite spring, it can be difficult to know what to plant. In many zones, February is perfect for starting long-season crops indoors and direct seeding cold-hardy greens outside. In this article, former organic farmer Logan Hailey digs into the best veggies for seed- starting in February.

A gardener with flower-patterned gloves starts seeds in a plastic clamshell container.

Gardening Tips

5 Ways to Start Gardening a Month Earlier

Instead of counting down the days until your last frost date, you can get a headstart on your garden with these innovative strategies. Even if the weather is still frigid and rainy, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow in the month before spring officially begins.