Randi V.W. Eckel, PhD

November 26, 2014

List of Blogs
|<   <   >   >|

Do your Butterflies, Bees, & Birds a favor.

Where did our warm sunny days go.. .?

The gardening season is certainly winding down -- or is it? Do your Butterflies, Bees, & Birds a favor and get started on next year's gardens by sowing perennial Wildflower seeds this winter. Perennial Wildflowers will come back year after year for you and your wildlife to enjoy.

What can you expect from Perennial Wildflower seeds?

What to expect from seeds seems like a simple question, but it really isn't. There are several things that are important to know about seeding Perennial Wildflowers.

First of all, there's a big difference between annuals and perennials

Annuals germinate, grow, flower and die all in one season. Perennials come back year after year from hardy roots of some sort). Annuals are kind of like little 'party animals' - they don't need to plan for the future at all (except to produce seeds). Perennials, on the other hand, must spend the first year after they germinate putting as much energy into their roots as they can - they have to store up enough energy to make it through that first winter! Because of this, many perennials will not flower the first year after they are seeded. In a newly seeded perennial bed or meadow, you will see some flowers the first year, more flowers the second year, and then lots of flowers from the third year on!

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Second, most native plant seeds require a period of cold stratification before they will grow.

What is this? It simply means that they have to in a cold and moist environment before they will grow. Without experiencing 'winter' this way, these seeds will stubbornly refuse to grow. Some seeds only need a couple of weeks of cold stratification, but some can require up 3 months! By far the easiest way to accomplish this is to sow your seeds outdoors in the fall, winter or early spring and let real winter take care of cold stratification for you.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) seedlings

Third, most native plant seeds do not need to be deeply planted!

We get asked about how deep to plant wildflower seeds a lot and wind up talking to folks who have tried to grow wildflowers from seed in the past and have planted the seed way too deep. As a general rule, seeds should be planted no deeper than the diameter of the seed -- so for most wildflower seeds, surface sowing of the seed on scratched or raked soil will do just fine. The freezing/thawing action of winter will incorporate the seed into the top " of soil through soil heaving. (Winter seeding is known as frost seeding). The important thing here is establishing good soil/seed contact. A trick that we find very useful for broadcasting seeds and/or seed mixes is to combine the seed with an equal amount (or more) of clean sand then sow your seed right before a good rain. The sand helps you spread the seeds, helps you see where you've been, and can help to hold some of the fluffier seed in place. Rain washes the seed down to the soil surface and into any little nooks and crannies that are available.

Toadshade Home Wildflower Lists Request a catalogue Contact Toadshade Follow Us on Facebook