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 your 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 either directly in the ground or in containers. For sowing in ground, it is best to not over-till or disturb the soil as it can awaken dormant weed seeds. If the area is heavily vegetated, it is best to till it and allow the dormant weeds to germinate so that they can be removed by hand, re-tilled or eradicated by other methods.
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 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 on 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 to five 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 replicate the process of cold-moist stratification by putting the seeds in your fridge for 4-6 weeks. We recommend mixing your seeds with damp soilless mix in a zip lock bag. After the 4-6 weeks, lightly sprinkle the seed and soilless mix in a container with 1-2 inches of well-drained soilless mixture. Set the container somewhere warm and ensure that it stays moist, but not overly wet.