QUESTION: Are there heirloom flowers? I grow some heirloom vegetables and love them, so if there are heirloom flowers I’d like to add some to my garden. — Rico G.
ANSWER: Yes, there are definitely heirloom flowers you can plant in your garden. Let’s discuss what heirloom means and what the benefits are of growing heirloom flowers.
Technically, an heirloom is defined as a plant that is open-pollinated. These are pollinated by insects, hummingbirds, or the wind and the resulting seed will produce plants that are identical (or very similar) to the parent plant.
Heirloom varieties are old-fashioned plants whose seeds have been passed from one gardener to another for at least 50 years. Technically, an heirloom is defined as a plant that is open-pollinated. Open pollination means that pollination happens naturally, either by the wind or by pollinators like insects or birds. But it also means that the seeds that come from those flowers will produce plants that are just like the parent plant. For you as a gardener, this means it’s easy to let the plants reseed themselves so they come back from year to year.
With seeds that come from hybrid plants, on the other hand, the next generation of plant that you grow from that seed could have characteristics of either parent. It is quite unpredictable what you get next, which is why heirloom seeds and plants are a great choice for gardeners who want to keep growing the same flowers year after year.
As opposed to heirloom varieties, hybrids are grown from new seed, or they may be crossed with other specimens, to breed for certain characteristics like resistance to heat or for a certain color or size.
- Many heirloom flower varieties are more fragrant than their modern counterparts, so if you want a garden that’s awash in fragrance, choose heirloom varieties.
- Heirloom flowers often grow taller than modern hybrids, so if you need some stunning tall blossoms for the backs of your flower beds, look for heirlooms.
- The growth habit of heirloom blooms is often messier than modern varieties, so if you want a wild, rambling look or are planning a cottage garden, heirloom varieties may be just the thing you need.
- Instead of changing over the years like hybrid plants, heirloom varieties are the same now as they were 50 years ago. That means you can grow plants identical to those you’re nostalgic for that your mother or grandmother grew.
- Heirlooms are known for being easy to grow, so they’re the perfect choice for a beginning gardener or anyone who appreciates ease of care.
- Tired of having plants die out before they can mature? Heirloom varieties are known for having high germination rates and high plant success rates.
You can find heirloom varieties from most major seed companies these days. If you cannot find heirloom flower seeds at a store near you, many online seed companies offer them. You won’t regret adding heirloom flowers to your garden.