25 Annual & Perennial Flower Seeds to Sow in Fall

If you live in a cold climate, there are plenty of annual and perennial flower seeds you can sow in the fall garden. Later, as winter turns to spring, the seeds germinate, giving a jump start on spring blooms—just as nature does it.

Sowing flower seeds in fall is as easy as it gets. By choosing seeds that naturally self-sow at this time year and need the cold of winter to germinate in spring, also known as vernalization, we’re just imitating what nature does naturally.

If you live in a cold climate, you’ve probably noticed this. When flowering plants like black-eyed Susan, cosmos, or foxgloves are left to go to seed (produce seeds) after blooming, those seeds eventually fall to the ground.

Along comes the cold weather and those seeds are just fine. In fact, some of them specifically need that cold spell to germinate later.

Come spring, the combination of moisture and warmth makes the seeds sprout. Easy!

We can let nature do it with existing plants or sow intentionally. And—good news—you can winter sow seeds in the ground or in containers.

I’ve provided a list of suggested seeds below to get you started.


  • Choose Flowers Suited to Your Region
  • 25 Flower Seeds To Sow In Fall
  • Fall Seed Shop
  • Sowing Tips

Choose Flowers Suited To Your Region

Before choosing seeds for fall sowing it is important to note that there is no one-plant-suits-all in gardening.

The best seeds for your garden will suit your region and growing conditions and support local wildlife. What’s best varies for each of us.

You do not want anything invasive or aggressive that will hog natural resources at the expense of a healthy eco-system. Nor do you want plants that require pampering to survive.

You’ll know you have the right plants for a sustainable garden when they tolerate your growing conditions, benefit local wildlife, and require minimal or no care.

Know Your Zone & Get Local Advice

The first step is to know your gardening zone (for plant hardiness) and learn which plants are best for your growing conditions and climate.

Invasive species (plants and animals) are huge problem these days and it is critical that gardeners are making safe choices that benefit the environment.

Plant Beneficial Plants

Fall in love! Once you know what is safe and beneficial to plant, explore your options, look over your neighbor’s garden—the one with awesome beauty and plenty of pollinators flitting about— and choose what you love.

For me, I love having a lot of wild things in my garden—insects, birds, bees, mammals, pollinators, things pollinators eat, and so on. The whole circle of life. So, I focus on the plants that attract, feed, and house them, in a cottage-style design. For me, that means creatively disheveled, densely-planted garden, with lots of colour, texture, and variety.

25 Flower Seeds To Sow in Fall

This list suggests annual and perennial seeds you can sow in fall, before the ground freezes, for spring and summer germination and (best of all) flowers. Lots of plants naturally self-sow this way. This is sometimes called “pre-seeding.”

These flowers are annuals and perennials, depending on where you live. In Canada and the United States, what’s perennial in the south can be too tender for the north. And, some of our northern favorites, can’t handle the southern heat.

There are far more options than I’ve listed here but this is a good start.

I’ve listed everything below and you can save the list for future reference.

I’ve listed general hardiness zones for each species but there are always exceptions with different hybrids and cultivars.

Sowing Tips

This method of fall seed sowing is really just an imitation of what nature does at the end of the summer growing season. Flowers turn to seed, seeds fall to the ground, and some germinate. In a cold climate with a true winter, germination is simply delayed until the warm weather returns.

  • Choose seeds suited to your growing zone and conditions, making sure none are invasive species in your area.
  • Choose best timing for seed sowing and provide the best soil and growing conditions possible.
  • Some seeds with tougher shells benefit from scarification (scratching the surface before sowing) or pre-soaking for better germination rates.
  • Mark where you sow with winter-durable tags or markers.
    It is incredibly easy to mistake freshly germinating seeds for unwanted weeds, or stomp on tiny seedlings in the spring garden. Mark your spots!

Best Fall – Winter Sowing Method

Flower pot planted with native plant seeds.

This sowing method works nicely for native plant seeds in cold climates.

By sowing the seeds in pots instead of the ground, you are less likely to lose them.

By covering the pots with hardware cloth, animals can’t eat them.

By exposing the pots to winter conditions, the seeds get the moist, cold stratification period they need.

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