Organic Vegetable Gardening in An Urban Setting

Herb and Flower Planting Instructions

This information should help you get your herb and flower gardens off to a good start. It helps to know your last frost date. This data can be accessed through the quick links on the right. You can also get to the vegetable planting guide this way. The Seed Starting Chart on the right is for vegetables and provides an easy chart to help you on your way to a great, season long harvest of healthy organic food for your table.

Flowers and Herbs by Latin Names

Agastache foeniculum (Lavender Hyssop) - Planting: Sow the seeds of this fast-growing biennial indoors in early to mid-spring, or directly into the soil as soon as the soil can be worked. Seeds should be just covered when sowing. Does best in well-drained soil in partial shade to full sun. 

Althaea rosea (Hollyhock) - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the sur¬face of the soil one week before last frost. Seeds germinate in 10-14 days. Space plants 18” to 36” apart. Prefers full sun to partial shade and rich, moist soil.

Allium schoenoprasum (Common Chives) - Planting: Start seedlings indoors 4-6 weeks before transplanting.  Sow seeds in flats ¼" deep and spaced 1" in all directions.  Transplant as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.  Chives are also easy to direct seed.  Established plants can easily by divided in both the spring and fall.

Amaranthus caudatus/cruentus/gangeticus (Amaranth) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 10-14 days.  Plant out after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Can also be directly sown after the danger of frost has passed.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and tolerates almost any type of soil. 

Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem) - Planting: Sow seed indoors in pots in a warm area (70-85 degrees F) in late winter or spring. Plant out after the danger of frost is past. Seed can be directly sown into a weed-free seedbed in May or June. Fall seeding is not as effective as late spring seeding. Grows in almost any soil type. Requires full or nearly full sun.

Anethum graveolens - Planting Sow outdoors early in the spring when the ground is warm. Place seeds just beneath the surface of the soil. Prefers full sun and rich well-drained soil.

Asciepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) - Planting: Sow seeds just beneath the surface of the soil in pots. Place the pots in plastic bags and refrigerate for three weeks, remove plastic and place in full light. Transplant when there is still a chance of light frost. Blooms the first year if sown early. Butterflyweed prefers full sun to partial shade and average soil.  

Asclepias incarnata (Red Milkweed) - Planting: For best germination, sow seeds in flats ¼" deep, moisten soil, cover with plastic bags and refrigerate for 10 days. Thereafter, provide light and 50-75 degrees F. Seeds will germinate in 10-15 days. This moist stratification is not absolutely necessary, but will help to increase germination.

Aster novae-agnliae (New England Aster) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil in a flat. Enclose flat with plastic and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Remove plastic wrap and place in warm lighted area. Seeds germinate in 14-35 days. Asters prefer full sun and average soil. Hardy perennial.

Borago officinalis (Borage) - Planting: Easily grown from seed.  Seeds can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost or direct seeded just after the danger of frost has passed.  Plant seeds just beneath the surface of the soil.  Borage prefers full sun and rich, moist soil.   Plants typically grow 2-3' tall.

Calendula officinalis (Calendula) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost or directly outdoors after the last frost. Seeds germinate in 5-15 days. Plants prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade in warmer areas.

Campanula pyramidalis - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Transplant when a light frost is still possible. Seeds will germinate in 14-28 days. Prefers full sun and average soil.

Celosia cristata (Amish Cockscomb) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.  Plant out into full sun or partial shade, after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers average, well-drained soil and full to partial sun. 

Cleome hassleriana (Cleome) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the last frost.  Plant the seeds just beneath the surface of the soil.  Seeds will germinate in 10-14 days.  Cleome prefers full sun or very light shade and rich soil.  Tolerant of dry conditions.   

Cobaea scandens (Cup and Saucer Vine) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before the last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 10-25 days if the temperature is kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Plant out into full sun 2-3 weeks after the last frost. 

Consolida ambigua - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil two weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 15-20 days. Does best in cooler climates. Plants thrive in rich soil and full sun.

Convolvulus tricolor - Planting: Sow outdoors 1/4" deep after last frost. Keep moist while germinating 5-21 days. Can slightly chip and soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting for better results. Prefers full sun and moist average soil. Needs adequate support to climb.

Coriandrum sativum (Cilantro)- Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep after the last frost.  Space plants 8-10" in all directions. Seeds germinate in 10 days.  Prefers full sun or partial shade and rich well-drained soil. Cilantro has a tendency to self-seed.

Cosmos sulphureus - Planting: Sow outdoors 1/8” deep after last frost or indoors 4-5 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 3-10 days. Prefers full sun and poor soil.

Coix lacryma-jobi (Job's Tears) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep and 6" apart early in spring after the danger of frost has passed.  To improve germination, pre-soak seeds in warm water for 2 hours before sowing.  Seeds may take 2-3 weeks to germinate, so be patient. 

Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover) - Planting: Plant seed indoors in early spring, and transplant outdoors no later than August 1 to ensure good root development. Easy to grow when direct seeded into a weed-free seedbed in mid-spring to early summer. Requires a well-drained soil.

Dianthus barbutus - Planting: Follow instructions for Dianthus chinesis Dianthus chinensis- Planting: Sow seeds just beneath the surface of the soil, indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 5-20 days if the temperature is kept between 60-70° F. Transplant after last frost in full sun. Plants thrive in rich moist well-drained soil.

Digitalis purpurea (Giant Spotted Foxglove) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before planting out.  Seeds will germinate in 14-21 days.  Transplant 2-3 weeks before the last frost.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and rich, moist, cool soil.

Dolichos lablab (Hyacinth Bean) - Planting: Sow indoors in pots just beneath the surface of the soil 4-6 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 15-20 days.  Transplant after the danger of frost.  Can be direct-seeded after the danger of frost has passed in warmer areas.  Prefers full sun and rich, moist soil. 

Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower) - Planting:  Sow outdoors ½" deep when a light frost is still possible.  Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days.  Coneflower prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained average soil.  Tolerates heat and drought.  Flowers reliably the first year from seed if sown early.  Perennial.

Echinops ritro (Platinum Blue) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 4-5 weeks before the last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 5-15 days.  Plant outdoors when the danger of frost has passed 24-36" apart.  Prefers full sun to partial shade. 

Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy Mixture) - Planting: Direct seeding is preferable, as poppies do not like to have their roots disturbed.  Sow in the early spring when the soil is still cool and light frost is possible.  Can also be sown in the fall just before the ground freezes.  Seeds will germinate in 10-15 days.  Plants prefer full sun and will tolerate poor soil.

Helianthus annuus & cucumerifolius (Sunflowers) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep and 6" apart in rows 24-36" apart after the last frost.  Successive plantings will provide continual blooms throughout the summer.  Seeds germinate in 10-14 days.  Prefers full sun to light shade and well-drained rich soil. 

Helianthus mollis (Downy Sunflower) - Planting: Germination is increased by a 30-day cold treatment in slightly damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but this is not mandatory for good germination. Plant seed indoors in early spring. Seed can be directly sown into a prepared seedbed in fall, or in early to mid-spring. Requires a well-drained sandy or loamy soil in full sun.

Heliopsis helianthoides (Ox Eye Sunflower) - Planting: Plant seed indoors in late winter or early spring. Germinates readily when sown into a weed-free seedbed in fall, spring, or early summer. Prefers a moderately rich loam, clay or slightly damp sandy soil. Requires full sun for good results. Will tolerate very light shade.

Helichrysum subulifolium - Planting: Sow indoors on surface of soil 6-8 weeks before last frost. Direct seed only in areas where summers are very long. Seeds will germinate in 5-20 days. Prefers full sun and average soil.

Hesperis matronalis - Planting: Sow indoors on surface 8-10 weeks before planting out. Seeds will germinate in 20-25 days Prefers full sun or partial shade and rich, moist soil.

Lupinus perennis (Lupine) - Planting: Germination is greatly increased by a 7 day cold treatment in a slightly damp paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.  Cold-treated seeds can be directly sown in spring or early summer.  Untreated seeds can be sown outdoors in fall.

Impatiens balsamina - Planting: Sow indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost on the surface of the soil. Seeds w ill germinate in 7-25 days. Water from below to avoid damping-off Prefers partial shade to full sun and rich moist soil.

Ipomoea purpurea - Planting: Sow outdoors 1/4" deep after last frost. Keep moist while germinating 5-21 days. Can slightly chip and soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting for better results. Prefers full sun and moist average soil. Needs adequate support to climb.

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting or Perennial Sweet Pea) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep and 3" apart.  Thin to one plant every 6-12".   Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days.  Plants will require support and prefer full sun.  Double rows work well on both sides of a trellis.  Plants continue to bloom if old blossoms are continually picked.  Sweetpeas are poisonous!

Lathyrus sativus (Azureus Sweet Pea) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep and 3" apart after the danger of frost has passed.  Thin to one plant every 6-12".  Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days.  Plants will require support and prefer full sun.  Double rows work well on both sides of a trellis.  Sweetpeas are poisonous!

Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazingstar) - Planting: Germination is increased by a 30-day cold treatment in slightly damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Plant seed indoors in the early spring. Seed can be directly sown into a prepared seedbed in fall, or in early to mid-spring. Requires a rich loam, clay or slightly moist sandy soil in full sun

Malope trifida - Planting: Sow outdoors 2-3 weeks before last frost just beneath the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in 15-30 days. Prefers sun or light shade and light well-drained soil.

Malva sylvestris - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil 1 week before last frost. Seeds germinate in 10-14 days. Space plants 18” to 36” apart. Prefers full sun to partial shade and rich moist soil.

Matihiola bicornis - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil after last frost or indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Seeds germinate in 3-20 days. Prefers full sun and moist well-drained fertile soil.

Mentha viridis (Spearmint) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 4-6 weeks before last frost. Can be directly sown outdoors just before the last spring frost.  Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.  Plant out into full or partial shade, after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers average, well-drained soil and will tolerate dry conditions.

Mirabilis jalapa (Four O'Clocks) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 4-6 weeks before the last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 5-18 days if the temperature is kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Can also be direct-seeded after last frost.  Prefers full sun to partial shade,  and average soil.

Moluccella laevis - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before last frost. Transplant when a light frost is still possible. Seeds will germinate in 8-25 days. Prefers average soil and sun to partial shade.

Myostosis alpestris - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before last frost. Seeds germinate in 8-30 days. Water only from beneath. Transplant when a light frost is still possible. Self-seed quite readily. Prefers partial shade and moist rich soil.

Nepeta cataria (Catnip) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days.  Plant out in early spring when a light frost is still possible.  Best grown in full sun or partial shade. 

Nicotianu alata & sylvestris (Tobacco) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days.  Plant out after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and average soil.  Will reseed year after year. 

Nigella damuscenu (Love-in-a-Mist "Oxford Blue") - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil when a light frost is still possible.  Seeds germinate in 8-15 days.  Will self-seed profusely.  Love-in-a-Mist prefers full sun and average soil. Tolerates dry conditions.

Nigella sativa (Black Cumin) - Planting: Sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil when a light frost is still possible.  Seeds germinate in 8-15 days.  Will self-seed profusely.  Cumin prefers full sun and average soil. Tolerates dry conditions. 

 Ocimum basilicum (Basil) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors when the soil is warm and the temperature does not drop below 65° F.  Can be started indoors 4-6 weeks before planting out.  Space plants 4-6" apart in all directions.  Plant seeds just beneath the surface.  Seeds germinate in 5-30 days, so keep moist.  Prefers full sun and rich, well- drained soil.

Osteospermum ecklonis - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost. Seeds germinate in 10-15 days. Transplant when soil is warm. Prefers full sun and rich well-drained soil.

Petunia multiflora (Petunia) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors on the surface of the soil 8-10 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days.  Plant out after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and average soil.

Petroselinum crispum - Planting: Sow outdoors 1/4” deep when there is still a chance of light frost. Seeds germinate in 14-21 days. Can soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. Prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained rich soil.

Pimpinellu anisum (Parsley)- Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ¼ " deep when there is still a chance of light frost.  Can also be started earlier and set out as small plants.  Seeds germinate in 14-21 days.  Seeds can be soaked in warm water for 24 hours before planting.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained, rich soil.

Polygonum orientale (Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate) - Planting: Sow seed in the spring in a sunny, moist, well-drained area.  Plant ¼" deep, thin to 1' apart after germination.  Seeds are very hard and may take up to 4 weeks to germinate, so keep moist.  Planting seeds in the fall can also work well.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and a rich well-drained soil.  Reseeds year after year.  If transplanting volunteers, be careful not to disturb roots.

Ricinus communis (Castor Bean) - Planting: Sow indoors in pots ½" beneath the surface of the soil, 6-8 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 15-20 days.  Transplant after the danger of frost has passed.  Can also be direct-seeded in warmer areas.  Castor beans prefer rich soil and full sun.

Rudbeckia hirta (Black-Eyed Susan) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost. Seeds will germinate in 5-21 days. Transplant when the danger of frost is past. Black-Eyed Susan prefers average well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Biennial or hardy annual.

Salpiglossis sinuata (Painted Tongue) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 10 weeks before last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 7-14 days and do best when allowed to germinate in darkness.  Plant out after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers full sun to partial shade and average soil. 

Salvia officinalis (Sage) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors on the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before last frost. Can be directly sown outdoors two weeks after the last spring frost.  Seeds will germinate in 4-21 days.  Plant out into full sun after the danger of frost has passed in late spring.  Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil. 

Silphium perfoliatum (Cupplant) - Planting: Sow indoors just beneath the surface of the soil 6-8 weeks before the last frost.  Seeds will germinate in 10-14 days.  Plant seedlings outdoors after the danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm.  Can also be direct-seeded after the danger of frost.  Plants prefer full sun to partial shade and tolerate almost any soil.  Annual.

Stachys lanata (Lamb's Ear) - Planting: Sow indoors 8-10 weeks before planting out.  Sow seeds just beneath the surface of the soil.  Seeds will germinate in 15-30 days.  Transplant outdoors in early spring when a light frost is still possible.  Does best full sun to partial shade and rich well-drained soil.

Tagetes patula/tenuifolia (Marigold) - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors 2 weeks before the last frost.  Plant the seeds just beneath the surface of the soil.  Seeds will germinate in 4-10 days.  Marigolds prefer full sun  (may need light shade in extremely warm areas) and a well-balanced slightly dry soil. 

Talinum paniculatum (Jewel's of Opar) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors on the surface of the soil 6 weeks before the last frost in pots or flats.   Seeds will germinate in 14-21 days.  Transplant outdoors after the last frost.  Prefers full sun.

Tithonia rotundiflora - Planting: Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost or sow outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil after the last frost in areas where summers are long. Prefers full sun and light soil; quite drought tolerant.

Trapaeolum majus - Planting: Sow outdoors 1 week after last frost 1/4" beneath the surface of the soil. Seeds will germinate in 7-12 days. Will need support to climb. Prefers full still and average moist soil.

Venidium fastuosum - Planting: Sow indoors 1/8" deep 8-10 weeks before last frost just beneath the surface of the soil. Seeds germinate in 6-14 days. Does well in dry areas. Prefers full sun and light dry soil.

Vigna caracalla (Snail Flower) - Planting: Sow seeds indoors, 1" deep, 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Seeds will germinate in 5-15 days.  Transplant outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.  Prefers full sun.

Viola x wittrockiana (Historic Pansies Mixture) - Planting: Sow indoors ¼"  deep, 10-12 weeks before planting out.  Seeds will germinate in 10-14 days.  Transplant when the spring temperatures are still cool and a light frost is possible.  Plants enjoy cool, rich soil and grow well in partial shade.

Zinnia elegans (Zinnia) - Planting: Sow outdoors after last frost just beneath the surface of the soil.  Seeds will germinate in 5-24 days.  Zinnias prefer full sun and well-drained average soil.

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