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Party Hardy - First Year Flowering Perennials

Perennial goldenrod in our meadow

In the world of seed sowing, you have your annuals that live and die in one season and your perennials which will come back every year but usually take longer to establish. Many perennials take two to three years until they flower or get stems long enough to use for cut flowers. However, there are a select few that will flower for you the first year that they are started from seed. These are called FYF (First Year Flowering) Perennials. I also opt to call them The Remarkables, Prestigious Producers or (my favorite) The Mystical Boomerangs. Get it? Because they keep coming back... Where were we... Oh yeah, FYF Perennials. They sound almost too good to be true, right? Well, there are some things you should know about them to help your flowers grow strong and tall not only this season, but for plenty of years to come:

1. Make sure your perennials are hardy to your zone- Some flowers need cold temps to set buds, while others wilt at the first sign of frost. Be sure that the seeds you are planting can survive winter in your gardening zone.

2. Get an early start- The sooner you get those seeds in dirt, the longer the flowers will have to set roots, get nutrients and become lean, mean flower-making machines. It’s easiest for me to plant seeds in Feb. and March when I don’t have much else going on. I winter sow them to keep the locals from eating my merchandise.

3. Dedicate a bed- Perennials are here for the long haul. This means you need to find a spot in your garden that they can put down their roots and not be disturbed. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a whole bed. In fact, many landscapes thrive with perennials as their structure and a rotating door of sassy annuals to add spice and variety to everyday life. The bottom line is to plan on leaving your perennials where you plant them. That way they will get big happy root systems and produce big happy blooms for you.

So how do you identify a FYF perennial? Luckily, many seed packets will say if a perennial will flower in the first year. You can also look for “native” varieties which means that the flower is found naturally in your environment and will most likely flourish in the first season. I have made this handy dandy list of some tried and true varieties that flower in their first year AND make good cut flowers here in Zone 6 (double,whoopy ding-ding):

Rudbeckia Coreopsis Geum

Gallardia Agastache Gaura

Yarrow Joe-Pye Weed Coneflower

Buddleia (Butterfly bush) Butterfly Weed (milkweed)

Goldenrod Phlox (not the scrawny ones)

Chinese lantern

For photos of these Mystical Boomerangs and many other frilly blooms, be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook. Also join the #cutflowerchat with us on Twitter to get all the answers to those cut flower questions you've been itching to ask.

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