Self-Seeding Perennials For The Garden – Growing Perennials That Self Seed

Image by Gary Tognoni

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Perennialsare dependable flowers that, once planted, live to beautify the landscape for several years. So, exactly what are self-seeding perennials and how are they used in the landscape? Perennials that self-seed not only regrow from the roots every year, but they also spread new plants by dropping seeds on the ground at the end of the growing season.

Self-Sowing Perennials for Gardens

Planting perennials that self-seed can be a very good thing if you have an area you want to cover with perennial blooms. However, most self-seeding perennial flowers tend to be a bit aggressive, so plan carefully before you plant.

Here is a list of some of the best self-sowing perennials for gardens, along with their USDA plant hardiness zones.

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus), Zones 3-7

Four o’clock (Miribilis jalapa), Zones 8-11

Bachelor buttons (Centaurea montana), Zones 3-8

Coreopsis/Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Zones 4-9

Violet (Viola spp.), Zones 6-9

Bellflower (Campanula), Zones 4-10

Verbena (Verbena bonariensis), Zones 6-9

Columbine (Aquilegia spp.), Zones 3-10

Gayfeather/blazing star (Liatris spp.), Zones 3-9

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Zones 3-10

Butterfly weed (Asclepias incarnata), Zones 3-8

Growing Self-Seeding Perennial Plants

Be patient, as perennials may need a year or two to get established. However, if you start with the largest plants possible, the plants will be large enough to put on a show much sooner.

Determine the needs of each perennial and plant appropriately. Although most need sun, some benefit from partial shade, especially in hot climates. Perennials are also relatively accepting of most soil types, but most require well-drained soil.

Wildflower mixes are another good source of self-seeding perennial plants. Look for packets of seeds suitable for your growing zone.

Mulch perennials with dry leaves or straw in fall to protect the roots from soil freezing and thawing. Remove the mulch before new growth appears in spring.

An inch or two of compost or well rotten manure dug into the soil gets perennials off to a good start. Otherwise, one feeding in spring, using a general-purpose fertilizer, is sufficient for most perennials.

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