This past year I successfully grew seventy (70) new-to-me varieties of flowers from seed, not including the dahlias seed mixes. (Typing it all up now, it seems ridiculous.) The plan was to try out as many different species and varieties as I could so that I could figure out which ones I liked so I didn’t waste my time next year. In this, I was pretty successful. However, I don’t recommend it–it’s a lot of work, and it’s hard to troubleshoot any pest or disease issues when they come up.

That said, I’m pretty thorough when it comes to documenting what I’m growing, so hopefully all of the angst of keeping everything alive in during our severe drought last summer was worth it. Here is my exhaustive list of non-dahlia flowers I grew in 2021. I grew everything on this list at my home garden from either seed or bulb.

Acidanthera Murielae (bulb)–These were very slender and delicate, but about 90% of them died due to some kind of “rust” issue–it looked similar to what people in the UK were dealing with regarding their leek crop this year. I’m not sure if I’ll try it again as I don’t know how to troubleshoot the issue.
Aster, Giant Perfection Mix–Despite being annuals, asters take forever to grow. Once they do, though, the blooms are strong and last forever. This blend was a mix of white, pink, and purples–I thought they would look dated because their colors are somewhat washed-out looking, but they were actually quite pretty.
Bachelor’s Button, Blue Boy–These were gorgeous and one of the fastest growing flowers in my garden. I have several different mixes I’ll be growing in 2021. The only downside I’ve seen is that they get so tall that they have a tendency to flop over.
Calendula, Pacific Beauty Mix–All calendulas, I’ve found, have resinous stems and flowers, so expect sticky hands when you try to harvest them. This variety produced large yellow and orange blooms. If I grow them again, I’ll likely grow this variety.
Calendula, Zeolights–Steady, reliable blooms which were a faded orangey-pink color. Similar to the Pink Surprise variety, but with larger blooms.
Calendula, Pink Surprise–Small, light pink blooms. Not worth growing if you are harvesting the petals for tea. May or may not grow these again this year; we’ll see.
Calendula, Resina–Small yellow flowers, but supposedly the best for medicinal purposes.
Chamomile, Roman–Took forever to grow. I had no luck at all with these in 2020, where they were tucked in among my tomatoes. In 2021 I tucked them into a back shady area of my Moon Garden, where they did finally reach a decent size. Not prolific by any means, however.
Carnation, La France–Did not take off; plants grew a total of 6″. No blooms.
Cosmos, Sea Shells–Another slow grower, which I thought was unusual for an annual. These can get very tall by the end of the season. Pretty flowers, but the leaves/stems are sticky. I have a few other varieties I’ll be trying this year.
Daisy, African–A moderately slow grower, but once it was established it was quite prolific. It was a great addition to my Moon Garden. Medium-sized white flowers with pale blue centers; plants were about 1.5′ tall. Depending on space, I may grow it again this year.
Delphinium, Magic Fountains Sky Blue/White–Never took off.
ECHINACEA, GREEN TWISTER–All of my echinaceas took forever to grow. Once I realized that they were perennials, and that this is how perennials tended to act, I was appeased. This variety was the least successful one that I grew in 2021.
ECHINACEA, PRIMADONNA DEEP ROSE–Moderately successful.
ECHINACEA, WHITE SWAN–My most successful echinacea variety, pretty white flowers with spiky yellow centers.
Echincea, Purple Coneflower–The basic purple cornflower. I already had a few of these growing in my main flowerbed. The new ones grown from seed were moderately successful, and actually looked stronger and larger than the ones I had inherited with the garden.
Gaillardia, Lollipop Mix–This was a species I had never heard of until I saw it in a catalogue last spring. The yellow blooms were pretty, but I didn’t like the orange ones. All of my plants were successful. The plants averaged around 1′ tall and the blooms about 2″ wide and frilly. I didn’t like them enough to grow them again.
Hollyhock, Indian Spring–I actually loved these hollyhocks; they seemed to thrive no matter what type of soil I put them in. This mix had white and pink blooms. The white flowers were nice, but I really loved the bright pink ones; they really brightened up the garden. I collected seeds from the pink ones and will be growing them again this year. They all reached a good 4′ tall and were able to support themselves. From what I’ve heard, once you plant hollyhocks, you’ll always have hollyhocks, but I was pretty on top of collecting seed pods so hopefully they won’t have self-seeded.
Hollyhock, Nigra–Unfortunately I had no luck with this variety at all. I’ll try growing it again this year as it seems like it will be a very striking plant.
Hyssop, Apache Sunset–This pant was moderately successful, if slow-growing. The flowers were delicate and pink, but nothing showy, and the plant didn’t get taller than 8″. I’m not sure what I expected, but somehow I hadn’t made the connection that it would smell like anise/black licorice. While I like black licorice, I don’t like it enough to give it space in my garden.
Lobelia, Crystal Palace–I was pretty dubious of this plant based on the seed packet I received from Botanical Interests. I think I only picked it up b/c Laura on Garden Answer had done a video on “true blue” flowers, which apparently are pretty rare in nature. The seeds I planted were all very successful–probably moreso than any other flower I grew from seed last year–and once they were full grown and started putting out their delicate blue flowers, I was smitten. Really adorable little bushy plants with gorgeous color that thrived in lower levels of my Greenstalk. I imagine they would be a great border or ground cover as well; they reached about 8″ tall before they started bushing out. Will definitely be growing again next year. They grow well in part-shade; they didn’t seem to like full sun.
Malva, Snow White--I purchased this variety specifically for my Moon Garden, an all-white garden that I tucked in against my side fence. They grew well but by the time July hit they were overtaking the African daisies and Acidanthera and even giving the slow-growing Fleurel dahlias a run for their money By August I had decided that, despite having pretty white flowers, this plant really should have been labeled a weed. I will not be growing this flower this year.
Moonflower–This was another slow grower, and one I chose specifically for my Moon Garden. By August the vines had finally taken off, and by September they had started producing these beautiful, almost iridescent 5″ blooms. They had a low germination rate, unfortunately. I think next year I will sow them earlier and having them running up the main trellises in my veggie garden.
Nasturtium, Alaska Mix–I love nasturtiums, and had success growing them in 2020, so I purchased a ton of varieties. This mix was a pretty representative example of the species–bright orange and yellow flowers with emerald green leaves.
Nasturtium, Alaska Variegated–This is one of my favorite nasturtiums, as I really love the variated leaves. (The regular green leaves on most nasturtiums remind me too much of lily pads.)
Nasturtium, Black Velvet--This was another successful variety I grew this year. The flowers are an extremely dark red/black and do appear velvety. This is one of the shorter nasturtiums, topping out around 6″. Unlike the other varieties that I grew, this one did not seem to appreciate full sun.
Nasturtium, Bloody Mary Mix–Pretty, successful.
Nasturtium, Cherry Rose Jewel–Pretty, moderately successful.
Nasturtium, Dwarf Jewel Mix–Pretty much the same as the Alaska mix. Maybe a bit shorted but not noticeably so.
Nasturtium, Fiesta Blend–Similar to the Alaska mix.
Nasturtium, Peach Melba–Pretty, very successful.
Nasturtium, Single Blend Trailing–When I lived in California, many of the highways there were bordered with huge fields of trailing nasturtiums. When I bought some seeds to grow in IL I just assumed that all nasturtiums were vines. (This is partially why I have so many varieties.) However, this is one of the few that actually trails–most of the other ones are bushy and don’t seem to grow past 10″ tall. I’ll always grow this variety because I love the trailing look.
Nasturtium, Tall Trailing Mix–Essentially the same as the Single Blend mix.
Nasturtium, Tip Top Alaskan Salmon–Pretty, similar in color to the Peach Melba variety. 
Nicotiana, Indian Peace Pipe–Now THIS flower was a huge surprise. Almost 100% seed germination, and the plants grew extremely quickly, reaching 3′ wide within a few weeks and then growing to 6′ tall by the end of summer. It puts out huge spikey stems toped with a profusion of long, tubular white flowers and huge, foot-long leaves. This flower was extremely successful, but since it is a space hog, I likely won’t grow it again.
Pansy, Got the Blues–This is another one I likely picked up due to Laura’s “Blue flowers” episode. I was skeptical of any flower that was less than a foot tall, but these were very successful in my Greenstalk and they survived our record-breaking heat and dryness this past summer. Very adorable little plants that are happy growing in part-shade.
Phlox, Sugar Stars–No germination whatsoever. I tried several times with several different seed-starting mix, and no luck. All of the other species I planted using the same starting soil sprouted, so it must have been something to do with the seeds. These were bought from Baker Creek in winter 2020 or spring 2021.
Poppy, Amazing Grey–These were pretty and the slight gray coloring was a nice contrast in my Moon garden. However, as I found, poppy flowers are extremely delicate and only last a dew days. However, the plant survived and kept putting out blooms until September.
Poppy, Falling In Love–Lovely, delicate white flowers edges with pink. However, as with all poppies, the blooms did not last.
Poppy, Hungarian Blue Breadseed–These were planted in much fuller sun that the other two poppies, and they did not seem to grow as well. The germination rate was moderate. Pretty, vibrant purple blooms, though. I may try these again next year as I’m hoping to be able to make lemon poppy-seed muffins with home-grown poppy seeds.
Rudbeckia, Autumn Colors–These had good germination and grew quickly. I had been used to the scrawny basic yellow rudbeckias I had inherited with the garden. These did not grow tall–maybe 1.5′ maximum–but they put out a ton of yellow/orange blooms. The petals were surprisingly thick and velvety. Their color scheme was great for fall but seemed a bit out of place in the summer garden. As these are perennials, I wont need to sow them again this year.
Rudbeckia, Gloriosa Daisy Prairie Sun–Also pretty, with yellow petals and a green center, but not nearly as prolific as the Autumn Colors. I’ll need to grow them again this year.
SALVIA, ROSE QUEEN–Moderate germination and growth. I don’t see what all of the fuss is about regarding salvias, honestly. These were just eh.
SCABIOSA, FAMA DEEP BLUE–No luck with these The biggest only grew 6″ tall.
Snapdragon, Madame Butterfly Mixed Colors and Madame Butterfly Bronze w/ White–These were pretty, with delicate frilly blooms. Moderate germination; survived cold temperatures better than any of the other flowers. However, I preferred the look of the Rocket Mix variety I picked up at the local nursery.
Strawflower, Apricot–Not very successful. Only had 1 or 2 germinate and the largest one didn’t get taller than 6″.
Sunflower, ProCut® White Nite and ProCut® White Lite–These were moderately successful. O found that any sunflower seeds that were planted in the ground were eaten by chipmunks, and transplanting them out was only moderately successful. I’ll try a few again this year and see how it goes.
Sunflower, Evening Sun–This was by far my favorite sunflower this past year. They germinated well and grew huge and bushy. No issues with needing support, and the flowers were gorgeous.
Sunflower, Mammoth–This one was eh. Chipmunks stole most of my seeds. The one I did get to grow only grew 4′ tall and the head was so heavy that it faced downward completely. I may try it again in a better location if I have the room.
Sunflower, Sparky–This sunflower from Floret was my other favorite. Based on the photos, it looked spiky and thin and I only bought it b/c it was one of the few things Floret had in stock. When I grew it however I was very pleasantly surprised. The petals aren’t spiky per se–they just curl inward a bit. It adds depth and a nice range of color to the bloom. As with my Mammoth sunflower, it didn’t get more than 4′ high but put out multiple blooms. If a sunflower can ever be said to look elegant, this variety succeeds.
Sunflower, Valentine–Lemon-color sunflower, not memorable.
Sweet Pea, Bouquet Blend–None of my sweet peas were very successful. I’ll try again this year.
Sweet Pea, High Scent–This was the only variety that was even mildly successful and put out a few flowers. I’ll try again next year.
Sweet Pea, Knee-Hi Blend–Unsuccessful.
Sweet Pea, Little Sweetheart–Unsuccessful.
Sweet Pea, My Navy–Unsuccessful.
Sweet Pea, Perfume Delight–Unsuccessful. 
Sweet Pea, Royal Blend–Unsuccessful.
Viola, King Henry–Adorable.. Solid royal purple. Very short, but delicate-looking and somehow surived out dry, hot summer with no issues. Perfect  for lower levels of the Greenstalk or as a border/around taller flowers.
Viola, Johnny-Jump-Up Viola–My absolute favorite of my pansies/violas. Totally precious. I never understood why people bothered growing small flowers b/c the ones I bought at the local nursery weren’t very delicate looking and never lasted past July. However the ones I grew from seed were less bulky and smaller but still survived the heat so much better than the ones from the nursery. And they always brought a smile to my face. Not bad for 6″ tall plants. I picked up a few more varieties for this year and I’m excited to see how they turn out.
Zinnia, California Giant–Exactly as described. I had a few reach 5′ tall. Nice bright colors. As it turns out that my mom’s favorite flowers are zinnias, I’ll be growing a bunch more this year.
Zinnia, Canary Yellow–Turns out I love the color yellow, when it’s on flowers! Tall and healthy plants. Not bad for a free seed packet from Baker Creek.
Zinnia, Queeny Lime Orange–Shorter than other zinnias with smaller blooms. Delicate colors, but compared to the larger zinnias, they look a bit washed out.
Zinnia, Senora–Medium-sized zinnia with magenta flowers. It’s a color not included in the California Giant series.
2021’s Flowers

2021 takeaways: Flowers

I love violas and pansies! Who knew? Very cute flowers, and they are pretty hardy as well. Mom loves zinnias, so I’ll grow a bunch more those. Bachelor Buttons are gorgeous but need some support. Hollyhocks are gorgeous and fun. Moonflowers are lovely but need a lot of room to vine out. Lobelias and cosmos are also gorgeous and low-maintenance. Asters are gorgeous but take a while to grow. I only need to grow one variety of calendula–the pollinators love them, but they love other, prettier flowers as well. On the whole, it’s better to grow your own flowers from seed as they tend to be healthier than those from the nursery.

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