Wildflowers From Seed

A garden with different flowers and plants.

The seeds of each plant species are as different as the plants themselves. And each seed requires different conditions to sprout and grow. Some of the easiest wildflower seeds to start include black-eyed Susans, coreopsis, asters, evening primrose, lobelias, milkweeds, wild columbine, hyssop and wild bergamot. 

Many of our local native plants are accustomed to winter temperatures each year and so their seeds require a cold period before they will sprout and grow. Others need their hard casings to be nicked or worn down, often done with sandpaper. Others need light to germinate. Still others have different needs and some need a combination of these conditions.

Most native wildflower seeds can be planted outdoors in fall or winter, but if you’re just getting started now you may want to create an artificial cold period. 

If you purchase seed from a quality native plant supplier, follow their detailed instructions. But if you want to learn more, immerse yourself in the world of seed starting, or even begin to collect some of your own seed, there are some great books and websites you can use to get started.

The New England Wild Flower Society’s guide by William Cullina offers insights from his extensive experience working with seeds and plants. It includes excellent information on both seed starting and seed collecting, as well as growing for collecting.

The book Taming Wildflowersby Miriam Goldberger has a detailed chapter on seed starting and seedling care.

Prairie Moon Nursery has detailed how-to information on germination that includes photos. The North American Native Plant society also offers information on preparing seed for planting.

Be aware that many wildflowers will not flower until their second year of growth, sometimes even later. Woodland flowers generally take longer to grow before blooming.

Our Native Plant Nursery guide covers local nurseries that carry plants, including several that sell seeds. Seedy Saturdays and Seed Libraries are also good sources of local seed. Check out our native plant lists to see what local species you might like to add to your garden this year.

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