Top 10 self-seeding plants for a low maintenance cottage garden

We all like to get free plants. And self-seeders produce new plants for us every year. They are ideal if you want a fuss-free garden, because they require little intervention. Left to bloom and set seed, these prolific varieties will soon fill every available patch in the garden.

Here are my top 10 self-seeding plants.

1 Papaver rhoeas


Also known as the common poppy, this is just as famous for its seeds as its red flowers. It likes full sun but will grow in most soil types. But it can spread dramatically, so don’t plant it near farmland or protected spaces.

2 Aquilegia

Aquilegia - the best self-seeding cottage garden plants

This is a cottage garden favourite that freely disperses its seeds, meaning new plants pop up all over the place. Often the next generation flowers a different colour to the parent plant.

3 Angelica archangelica

angelica archangelica is great for pollinators and self seeds

This is a beautiful architectural plant for any garden style. Thick stems branch out like fireworks, each one bearing a globe of tiny white flowers. It’s perfect for pollinators too.

4 Digitalis purpurea


The foxglove is immensely popular in British gardens, and one of the only tall flowering plants that thrives in the shade. Let it go to seed and new flower spires will brighten the garden every year.

5 Myostis sylvatica (forget-me-not)


A low-growing variety with delicate blue flowers that look stunning at the front of borders. It flowers in spring and spreads out like a carpet, making it ideal for rockeries and filling cracks in paving.

6 Verbena bonariensis


Tiny purple flowers bloom all summer on tall stems. Verbena adds height and structure to beds and is loved by pollinators. Leave it to its own devices and it will self-seed and pop up all over the garden.

7 Eryngium giganteum

Eryngium variifolium or sea holly suits a seaside spot

Sea holly is a stunning architectural plant with silvery bracts and egg-shaped heads with delicate blue flowers. It is hardy and will grow happily in full sun and poor soil.

8 Foeniculum vulgare ‘Giant bronze’


Let this bronze fennel herb go to seed and it will reward you with more plants the following year. It has pretty yellow flowers and dark leaves. Plant in full sun in moist, well-drained soil for best results.

9 Lunaria Annua (honesty)


Honesty is renowned for its translucent disc-shaped seed pods that look just as good in a vase as the border. It produces pink, purple or white flowers in summer and its pearlescent seed pods spread freely.

10 Chrysanthemum parthenium


Also known as feverfew, this is a bushy perennial with pretty daisy-like flowers and fragrant leaves. It is low-growing and forms a nice carpet for the front of borders. Plant in full sun for the best flowers.

Sometimes, self-sown plants pop up in unwanted places, but it’s easy to transplant them to a better spot. Dig up the seedling with a trowel, taking care not to disturb the roots. Replant to the same depth in prepared soil and water well.

Author: Dennis Hickey

There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. Learning will also nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this website and visit often so you keep learning and growing too!

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