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Stately tall hollyhocks are the backbones of many gardens

February 13, 2019

Planning a flowerbed means facing that annual dilemma: do you plant annuals and enjoy flowers right away or plant perennials and wait a year or two before your first booms? You can plant perennials that bloom the first year.

Most of these seeds can be found at local garden centers and nurseries.

Coneflowers are native, easy to grow wildflowers that usually take two years to bloom.  Now several cultivars will bloom the first year from seed. Pow Wow Wild Berry is among the quickest to bloom from seed, in just 20 weeks.

It blooms constantly, and produces more flowers than most coneflowers.  Plant it this year and you will have years of blossoms.

Cheyenne Spirit is another quick blooming cornflower, taking about 24 weeks to bloom from seed.

Cheyenne Spirit is a colorful mixture, so from one planting you will get flowers in creamy white, red, light pink, golden, purple, orange, and bright yellow. With all cornflowers let some go to seed in the garden for songbirds to eat during the winter.

Stately tall hollyhocks are the backbones of many gardens, but they usually take two years to bloom. Now Happy Lights Hollyhocks will bloom the first year if you start them indoors.  Happy Lights are the old-fashioned single-flowered hollyhocks so are perfect for a cottage garden, against a wall or as a flowering hedge. Best of all this variety is the most resistant to the disease rust than almost all other hollyhocks.

Plant them in any good garden soil even if it is dry, as long as it drains well and gets full sun.

Hardy Luna Hibiscus is the only hibiscus that flowers from seed the first year. These big tropical blooms are a magnet for hummingbirds. The Luna series comes in different colors such as Luna Pink Swirl, pure white, red and others.  Many gardeners plant a mix of colors. Luna hibiscus respond well to fertilizing when they are actively growing. Use a liquid organic fertilizer every few weeks. After the last flowers fade you can cut these hibiscus down to just above the soil level for the winter, and it will grow back next spring.

Round out your perennial garden with quick to bloom Camelot Rose foxglove. Sow the seeds this spring, and even before summer hits you will have armloads of chartreuse-and-pink flowers that keep blooming for weeks. The buds start out as light green brushed with pink, then open to one-and-a-half-inch trumpet shaped-flowers all along the 20-inch stems. The flowers show a bright pink interior with black freckles that contrast nicely with the lavender exterior.

The second season blooms are even more spectacular. This is another good plant for light shade or a cottage garden.

Everything will be coming up daisies when you plant White Breeze Shasta Daisy.  The white flowers have contrasting golden eyes and bloom from late spring through early fall. The foot tall plants do best in full sun or partial shade. They look best when you plant them in large groups. They make excellent cut flowers.  White Breeze Shasta Daisy also does well as a planting in outdoor pots and flower-boxes. They provide masses of flowers that contrast nicely with other flowers in the same pot.

Plant quick blooming perennials this year and your garden will have flowers for years to come.  They will become, dare I say, your perennial favorites.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.