Fast flowers for Zone 9
May 10, 2019 11:36 AM   Subscribe

Hi! I'm trying to spruce up our yard quickly. I've planted some slow-growing perennials, but I'm trying to get some color in there for the rest of this summer and fall. This is Zone 9, Sacramento. I have a variety of settings -- most are full sun, but a few are partial or full shade, so don't hold any ideas back.

I'm particularly trying to find some that I can buy at this upcoming sale of pesticide and herbicide free plants (PLANT LIST PDF) or any mail-order sources that you know to not spray. Thanks!
posted by slidell to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm also in Zone 9, albeit in the Southeast, but for the rest of summer and fall I'd recommend, based on our experience, some snapdragons (which we've had luck with even in shade), some asters, some coreopsis, that firecracker plant, some pinks/dianthus, gaillardia/blanketflowers, and for shade it's hard to go wrong with hydrangeas (I'm partial to oak-leaf hydrangeas). A couple of those butterfly bushes, that butterfly rose, and that primrose all sound pretty appealing too, although I don't have any direct experience with any of them.

But really, if you're going to that sale in person you'll have better luck just identifying anything that looks appealing and talking to people there about your choices, I'd bet.

Good luck, and let us know what you plant!
posted by saladin at 12:01 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

Are you looking for fast growing flowers?

Nasturtiums, marigolds, snapdragons, zinnias, morning glory, sunflowers, dill, kale (red/purple), gladiolus, geraniums, moss rose, poppies, salvia.

In general you want to look for annuals - either as seed or seedlings. They will grow fastest. Any perennials that you plant usually sleep for a bit after transplanting. If you buy them big enough that they're already in bloom, they will probably last for the season, but that gets expensive.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 12:06 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

Put a bit of money into transplants and also make a bed you can look after to start your own seedlings. The first six of ohsnapdragon's recommendations, and poppies and salvia too, can make it from seed to flower in three months, in Sacramento. Sometimes two months. And it's cheaper, and so fun!

But if all of this is in a hurry, watch out for biennial plants -- they spend the first year as a plain plant and flower only the second. Get those as transplants. (Most pinks, lavender, foxgloves, lots of pretty plants.)
posted by clew at 12:18 PM on May 10

Also in Zone 9 - SLO. Second the vote for annuals. Nasturtiums will grow and spread quickly, do well in part shade to full shade. Much loved by snails. I think you may be a bit late for snapdragons in Sacto area. Marigold, Cosmo and Zinnia should do very well started by seed or bought in nursery packs. They provide nectar to Monarch butterfly. You can find varieties that grow and bloom from 4 inches to 3 feet and in a wide variety of colors. I think there's a good chance that both California and Asian poppies will grow and bloom before the heat knocks them down.
posted by X4ster at 12:28 PM on May 10

I'm in Sac too! I have no less than 9 different kinds of geraniums in my backyard that are doing great and they transplant well. Lantana also does very well with our hot temperatures and proliferates quite quickly, in my experience. Roses also seem to thrive around here and it's not too late in the season to get them in the ground. I really like verbena too (I have the purple, low, sprawling kind, but there are a ton of varieties). Rudbeckia (black-eyed susans) and coneflower are a couple of other good ones I see a lot, but I have found them to be a little more finicky.

Will also add that I have had better experience with stuff that I've bought from places like Green Acres as opposed to big box stores (e.g., Home Depot).

Will chime in again if I think of more!
posted by lovableiago at 12:33 PM on May 10

Also just looked at the Arboretum* plant list and the ones that jumped out at me were yarrow, ceanothus, heuchera (coral bells), buddleja (butterfly bush), fuschia (LOVE those--great for shady spots), sunflower, red hot poker, penstemon, and (again), geranium, coneflower, and verbena.

* I've been to those sales--they are great but be sure to get there early to snag the good stuff! :)
posted by lovableiago at 12:40 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]

lovableiago has great suggestions. Yes - Green Acres has better plants than the big box stores. I'm not keen of geraniums because ours always seem to be in need of deadheading and other maintenance. Roses are an investment in the future. They do well here further south of you. Dianthus have delightful scent.
posted by X4ster at 12:43 PM on May 10

Another Sacramento-area person. I love the showy displays of African daisies around here. Lots of different colors, lots of blooms, easy to grow here, perennial. They'll be in bloom now, and they'll stay in bloom as they spread.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:29 PM on May 10

One more thing - there are TONS of sunflower varieties. You could get lots of colors and heights and sizes with just sunflowers, although they will only grow in full sun.

I know dill and kale aren't flowers, but they get HUGE and showy for me. Dill does flower, eventually, but it's more like a pleasant green filler and kale is a cool arcing godzilla.

My favorites for shade are hostas and astilbe, but neither will take off in one season. I also suspect Chicago shade and Sacramento shade might be pretty different.

My rudbeckia, geranium, verbena, and coneflower did not bloom the first season. (Planted from quart size.) I believe there are different kinds of geraniums, some that are slower perennials and some that are showier annuals, but I could be wrong.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 4:09 PM on May 10

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