I started to write a post with the basics of seed starting indoors, but when I got to the part about lights and timers and seed trays and soil mixes, I decided it might be better to start with the easier stuff.
Yes, you can grow some flowers without all the fuss and expense of indoor seeding. Here in Northern California I recommend nigella, larkspur, calendula, poppies, cosmos and zinnias. All of those except the cosmos and zinnias can be started outdoors in January. Wait until about April for cosmos and zinnias because they don’t like cold weather.
You can buy seeds online or at your local nursery. I recommend Renee’s Garden Seeds or Swallowtail Seeds. You’ll find the six flowers I listed, and there will be a few different varieties of each. Calendula are one of the easiest, followed by California poppies. California poppies can become a nuisance, seeding themselves around your garden and popping up years after you get tired of them, so if you don’t like them to start with, beware!
Follow the directions on the seed package to know how deep to plant. Water the seeds gently after planting. In my own garden I absolutely MUST add snail bait after planting. Maybe your garden is different, but in mine there are thousands of snails and slugs. I use Sluggo, a product that won’t harm cats, dogs or people. I add it again after the seeds have sprouted.
A package of seeds is usually under five dollars, so you can try and learn without a big investment. I wish you luck – let me know how it goes.