zinnia bouquets at farmers market
Image: cjorgens
Zinnias - especially the charming green 'Envy' variety - make glorious and long-lasting bouquets
By far the best—and cheapestway to fill your garden with flowers this summer is to grow them yourself from seed.

Your average packet of seeds is three bucks. Pick three varieties you love and you can end up with tremendous drifts of flamboyant flowers for bouquets and to feed hummingbirds and pollinators and your own color-starved soulfor less than ten dollars.

Plant them now, as the danger of frost has passed. (In Portland, for all intents and purposes, we list our last frost date as April 15).

You can still plant in early June but you'll have to wait a bit longer for those glorious flowers.

Choose a sunny location with moist, well-drained soil. Provide consistent moisture during the first month after planting, while seeds are sprouting and baby plants are getting established.

These flowers grow quickly and usually show the first flowers by mid-summer. Deadhead spent flowers and they’ll keep coming until the frost arrives some time in the middle of October.

Here's my list of easy-to-grow, colorful flowers for summer blooms: 

cosmos in field
Image: O lympus
Cosmos keep flowering all summer and right into the first frosts of autumn
  • Cosmos
  • Zinnia
  • Nasturtium - edible flowers for salad, drought-tolerant
  • Batchelors buttons
  • Marigolds – edible flowers for salads,
  • Pot marigold (Calendula)
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Amaranth
  • Mexican sunflower (Tithonia)
  • Sunflower

A great way to fit even more flowers into your garden is to add flowering vines. These vines are annuals, so they only last through the first autumn frost - perfect for covering a chain link fence or trellis this summer.

These fast-growing vines can run between 6 and 12 feet in a season and will bloom their hearts out all season long:

  • Morning glory (Convolvulus)
  • Firecracker vine (Mina lobata)
  • Black-Eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia)
  • Scarlet runner beans
  • Lab-lab bean (Dolichos lablab)

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