Outdoor Sowing Instructions for Your Native Seeds
For best germination seeds should be sown in late fall (after the first hard frost) to mid-winter (6 weeks before you last spring frost date). This allows the seeds to go through cold-moist stratification, which encourages the seeds to germinate in spring.
Sow your seeds in a well-prepared, weed-free planting medium. You can sow directly into the ground, into containers, or into aged wood chips or bark mulch. Aged wood chips (one year older or better – should have an almost soil-like consistency) and bark mulch are generally seed free and they also have cool, moist layers just under the surface that are perfect for germinating seed. Spread the chips or mulch over ten layers of newspaper or a layer of corrugated cardboard to act as a barrier between them and the ground.
Sowing Your Seed
Divide the seed into two equal parts. You may want to mix each half with sand, aged sawdust or vermiculite as a carrier and marker to know where you have sown. Sow in one direction with ½ of the mixture, then at 90 degrees with the other half. This will assure good coverage over the entire area.
If seeding into the ground, lightly rake the area with a leaf rake turned upside down after sowing. The objective is to get seeds between ⅛ and ¼ inches into the soil. Tamp the soil lightly to ensure good seed to soil contact. If you are sowing into containers, tamp the soil firm, sprinkle the seed over top and cover with ⅛ to ¼ inch of additional growing medium. If you are planting on top of aged wood chips or bark mulch, sow the seed on top and water (mist) the seed to wash it under the top layer.
If your site is sloped and erosion may occur, cover the site lightly with clean weed-free straw or fine mulch and water thoroughly.
Watering is not necessary in early spring, dormant or frost seedings. If you choose to plant in the late spring or summer, you may elect to water your planting to help with establishment. This can be especially beneficial if you are planting after the spring rains have diminished. If you do water, do not let the seedlings dry out. Continue to water during the first growing season. Water thoroughly, with approximately ½ inch of water once a week if rain has not occurred.
Depending where you live and what you plant into, you may have some weeds that show up in your planting. Seeds blow in on the wind, and are gifts from traveling animals and birds. As weeds become evident, you may pull them gently to minimize root disturbance of the surrounding plants, or cut them off at the ground.
Depending on the species you are planting, growing native plants from seeds can take up to three years before you see blooms.
Indoor Sowing Instructions for Your Native Seeds
If you would like to get an early start to growing, you can replicated the process of cold-moist stratifcation by putting the seeds in you fridge for 4-6 weeks. We recommend mixing your seeds with damp soiless mix in a zip lock bag. After the 4-6 weeks, lightly sprinkle the seed and soiless mix in a container with 1-2 inches of well-drained soiless mixture. Set the container somewhere warm and ensure that it stays moist, but not overly wet.