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Cut flowers/ Gardening

9 Self-Seeding “Annual” Flowers To Grow That You Will NEVER Have to Plant Again

My college biology professor used to repeat week after week: “the point of a _____ is to make more_____”, and would fill in the blank with whatever plant, insect or animal he was lecturing about that day.

Flowers in your garden are the same: they want to make more flowers and they don’t alway need your help!

Planting an “annual” seed usually means the plant will die by winter and you will have to replant it every year. But there are some plants that are such prolific seed producers that they will replant themselves for you. Here is a list of annual flowers that reseed come back every year on their own.

  • bachelors buttons
  • sweet peas
  • snapdragons
  • pincushion flower
  • violas
  • sunflower
  • calendula
  • larkspur
  • marigold

In order for these to come back each year you must allow them to “go to seed”. If you cut off all of the blossoms to use in bouquets or crafts, you will not get any new flowers the following year.

But I have found with each of these varieties, that even if I consistently harvest early in the season, by the time these flowers reach the end of their season they have been producing so many flowers that I could not keep up with all of them. And they have thrown plenty of seeds all over my garden just waiting for next spring.

Read on for my tips and favorite varieties of each.

Bachelors Buttons

Bachelors Buttons come in many colors, like this “Classic Magic” blend, and have a sort of shaggy, casual look to them.

However, as you can see by the tulips in the background, these flowers are in full production super early in the year before many seeds can even be sown outside. This makes bachelors buttons an invaluable filler in your cottage or cut-flower garden.

The most familiar or traditional color of bachelors buttons are blue. In fact if you ever find a light blue color in your crayon box called “cornflower” that is named after these flowers. Another common name for bachelors buttons is cornflower.

This variety I grew are called”Blue Boy”, or you can grow the “Classic Fantastic” mix if you want some variation in the blues. I grew these ones specifically to make this red white and blue bouquet for Independence Day last summer.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas have the most amazing scent you can not believe is natural. They are great climbers so you should plant them on a trellis or along a fence.

Just make sure you do not plant sweet peas near your vegetable garden, and make sure your family and children in particular know that these are not for eating. When the sweet peas are pollinated they grow into little pea pods that look just like edible garden peas, but are actually toxic.

Make sure no one eats them, but if you let them develop the pods will fall to the ground and come back the following year.


Snapdragons are one flower I remember my mother growing in her yard. If you want to be able to use them in bouquets you should get seeds of a “tall” variety. Bouquets of snapdragons will fill a room with their spicy scent, so I do recommend getting a cutting variety.

Snapdragons are very hardy and can be a short-lived perennial if your winters are not too cold. Many of mine survived the winter. But I ended up with plenty of new snapdragon babies all over the garden as well.

Pincushion Flower

Pincushion flowers, also called scabiosa, are easy to grow from their funny-looking seeds.

The seeds are shaped like tiny shuttlecocks, and like a shuttlecock will catch the wind and blow around your garden, surprising you next year with where they show up.

I actually have a seedling that started growing in my potted Meyer lemon that is currently indoors for the winter!

Pincushion flowers are on delicate stems that let them “dance” in a bouquet in a really fun way.


Violas are a low ground cover type of flower. Plant them near the edges of your planting beds so they don’t get lost behind other taller plants.

Violas are sometimes called “Johnny Jump Up” because the flower will jump up above the plant on a little stem. Violas are edible– if you know they have not been sprayed with any chemicals– so I like to collect bowlfuls to sprinkle on salads or press on cookies.

The tiny plants seem so low to the ground, but that did not stop seeds from ending up in all kinds of crannies in my garden and popping up all throughly walkways.


Bees love sunflowers. They pollinate away and if you leave the sunflowers after the petals drop the seeds plump up and attract all kinds of wildlife to your garden.

I love watching the sweet little goldfinches hop from sunflower to sunflower in my garden. This spreads seeds all around for next year.

Many sunflowers, like this Mammoth variety can grow way above your head. If you want sunflowers for bouquets you may like to try the shorter or branching varieties.

Many flower farmers grow the “Pro Cut” series that are also pollen-less to avoid making a mess inside your house. Unfortunately, the seeds they produce are not true to type, so you would need to replant more pollen-less seeds every year.


Calendula Resina are cheerful orange flowers that have edible petals and can also be used medicinally in skincare products.

Some people use calendula in bouquets, but I’ve never really found my stems to be long enough to add to other cut flower bouquets.

Calendula come in a variety of types and colors, like this frilly large-headed “Kabloona”, and pink-undersided “Zeolights”. All of them easily self-seed all over the garden.


The tall spikes of Larkspur are a cutting garden must-have. I had a bit of a rough time starting these from seed, but they had no problem coming back on their own the following year. (Gardening can be like that sometimes!)

The ones speckled in pink are the aptly-named “splish splash” variety. This year I want to try some “shades of blue”.


Marigolds are a vegetable garden staple for their scent–which is kind of unpleasant. This scent helps to deter pests from the vegetables.

Marigolds need to be dead-headed regularly to keep producing lots of new blossoms. That means removing the old-shriveled blossoms to allow energy to go to flower production instead of seed development.

Inevitably you will let some blossoms stay on the plant too long and they will develop seeds. I deadhead and drop the heads on the ground around the plant as a mulch. So I always end up with marigold babies around where the plants grew the year before.

Sometimes you can get some really interesting variations the following year if they cross-pollinated. These self-seeded marigolds grew with just a single layer of petals that I found to be just charming!

This is the list I’ve had success with. Do you have any other self-sowing flower favorites? Leave a comment below!