Annual phlox
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14 Fast-Growing Flowers and Plants That Anyone Can Grow

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Annual phlox
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No Green Thumb Necessary

Gardening has always been a popular pastime but perhaps never more so than while we’re all cooped up at home and looking for ways to beautify our surroundings. The hobby has suddenly skyrocketed so much that a garden center employee in San Diego recently described gardening as the new toilet paper of the COVID-19 pandemic with demand for all manner of plants suddenly and dramatically outpacing supply. But not all of us have a green thumb. In fact, there are plenty of people who even manage to kill a cactus. To help novices step up their gardening game, we asked experts to identify some of the easiest flowers and plants to grow. Here are their top choices — AKA your guide to feeling like a master gardener overnight. (Want to keep it frugal, too? Here are 22 Tips to Keep Gardening Dirt Cheap.)

Kale
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Kale

Aside from being incredibly nutritious, kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, says Matt Suwak, a gardener and naturalist who writes for the site Primal Survivor. “Like most leafy greens, kale does better in cooler weather and can continue to grow all the way down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Suwak. “It usually develops a sweeter taste when the weather dips to a nice chill.” If you’re aiming for a spring crop, plant the kale about four weeks before the last frost date in your region. Kale takes about 60 days to reach full maturity, but young leaves can be harvested when they grow to the size of your hand, says Suwak. “Make sure to leave at least four leaves on the plant if you harvest while it grows to maturity.

Nasturtiums
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Nasturtiums

Landscape designer, horticulturalist and blogger at Greenhouse Studio, Tina Huffman says her “sure thing” plant recommendation is nasturtiums. “Nasturtiums are beautiful with bright orange to yellow-orange flowers and pretty, round leaves,” says Huffman. “They're very easy to grow and have edible leaves and flowers. Chefs use the flowers in fancy salads here in Napa, California.” Nasturtiums are also a crop that keeps on giving too. When you plant them once, they just keep coming back year after year. In fact, they’re so easy to grow, they’re a great introductory plant for kids, adds Huffman, whose own sons grew them when they were young. “The seeds have the look and size of a dried pea, so they're easy to handle, especially for little hands if gardening with kids,” she adds.

California Poppy
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California Poppy

Those who live or have spent any time visiting California have surely seen fields of wild California poppies. “The California poppy is considered a weed in some parts of the U.S.A., and it’s very easy to grow from seed,” says Val Bold of My Life in Blossom. “It grows into pretty little plants with blue-green leaves and orange blossoms.” Poppies merely require well-drained soil in a sunny location. They’re extremely drought tolerant, and typically flower within 60 days of planting, she adds.

Related: Can You Guess Your State Flower?

Potatoes
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Potatoes

Potatoes can be grown in small bins; they do not have to be planted in the ground. And even within a space as small as a container or planter, it’s relatively simply to grow a substantial harvest. Just decide what type of potatoes you want to grow and begin your planting adventure. The good news is potatoes are not fussy about where they’re placed to grow, but it’s best to opt for a location that offers at least six to eight hours of bright sunlight. One more note, this crop can be started from fully developed potatoes that are cut into chunks and placed in the soil like a seed.

Related: 15 Foods You Can Grow in a Container Garden

Butterfly Bush
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Butterfly Bush

For those hoping to find a plant that is both easy to grow and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, look no further than the appropriately named butterfly bush. Known for not being picky about its soil or sun conditions, this plant will reseed quickly. But lest you want it overrunning your yard, be sure to remove new seedlings.

Marigold
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Marigold

Marigolds are incredibly adaptable flowers, says Bold. “They need to be planted in a sunny location and thrive in both dry and moist soil,” she explains. Marigolds will blossom in just 40 to 50 days after planting.

Basil
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Basil

Herbs are famously easy to grow as they germinate quickly and basil is perhaps one of the best choices for beginners, says Noah Myint, a partner at Hi Quality Turf in Australia. “The seeds need a lot of sunlight, so plant them after winter and you can enjoy freshness all summer long until early autumn,” says Myint. Basil seeds will sprout in about four days.

Annual phlox
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Annual Phlox

Annual phlox is a native Texas plant, says Bold. “With its purple, pink, red, and white flowers, it will bring a splash of color to any gardens,” she says. Phlox can also be potted as long as they’re located in a fully sunny position and watered only when the top soil is dry. The flowers blossom within just 10 to 30 days of planting.

Related: In Full Bloom: Photos of Gorgeous Botanical Gardens in All 50 States

LETTUCE
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Lettuce

Red leaf lettuce, butterhead, and even arugula are robust plants that grow quickly and provide lots of product, says Richard Reina, gardening enthusiast and product training director for TOOLSiD.com. “Here’s the real beauty of growing these lettuce varieties at home — you do not need to grow enough to fill a bowl. Rather, use them to complement and enhance an existing salad,” says Reina. “Arugula, also known as rocket, adds a biting spiciness to bland iceberg … Mix and match different lettuces for variety every night of the week.”

Related: 16 Gardening Must-Haves for Anyone With a Green Thumb

Sunflowers
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Sunflowers

Sunflowers are best planted in fully sunny locations and thrive in drier climates, says Bold. “If you’re looking for the perfect soil to plant your sunflowers, choose more acidic bedding which will allow your plants to thrive,” she says. Sunflowers are particularly easy to grow because they tolerate heat well, are resistant to pests and grow quickly. Most sunflowers bloom for several weeks during the heat of summer.

Cucumbers
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Cucumbers

Another plant to consider if you’re a veggie lover, cucumbers germinate in just seven to 10 days. Not only are they easy to grow, they’re prolific. They’re also ideal for a summer garden. Plant in a location that gets substantial amounts of sun.

Clematis
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Clematis

Clematis is a vine capable of growing as much as 30 feet in a matter of mere months, so it would be an understatement to say it is an easy, hardy plant. It will also tolerate all manner of soil and will survive in both partial or full-sun. You really can’t go wrong with this one. These flowers come in purple, pink or white.

Coral Honeysuckle
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Coral Honeysuckle

Yet another incredibly hardy (read: flourishes with little effort on your part) creeping vine, coral Honeysuckle is capable of growing as much as 10 to 15 feet in just one season. A perennial, the plant’s coral-pink blossoms will be on full display from mid-June through September.

Geranium Brookside
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Geranium Brookside

Here’s everything you need to know about Geranium Brookside: fast-growing and long-blooming. You’ll have a flourish of blue flowers from May through July. Added bonus, these flowers won’t be nibbled up by either deer or rabbits. But they will attract bees, which is a good thing for your garden.