En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 27, 2009

From: Portland, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Propagation
Title: Timing for planting wildflower seeds in the Pacific Northwest
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do you think it is better to sow wildflower seeds in the Pacific NW in the Fall/early Winter or Spring?

ANSWER:

Generally, the best plan for planting wildflower seeds is to follow Mom Nature's schedule, i.e., plant the seeds when the seeds would normally mature and be dispersed.  Here is a quote from our How to Article, "Meadow Gardening":

"Fall is the best time to plant many native species in Central Texas. Some seeds need a chilling period (cold stratification) to break their dormancy, while others have hard seed coats that need to be worn down or scarified before they can germinate. Sowing seeds in the fall often provides the conditions necessary to break seed dormancy. Warm, wet, spring weather then induces the seeds to germinate. Ideally, native seeds should be planted following nature's seeding schedule."

Although this article was written with Central Texas in mind, the same principles would apply for planting seeds of native plants no matter what the region.  You can determine the bloom times for most species of wildflowers found in your area by looking them up in our Native Plant Database and estimate that their seeds will begin to be ripe several weeks after the earliest bloom time.  So, certainly, the fall-maturing seeds should be sown now, but also those that matured in the summer and lost their seeds then.  There is a good chance that they need to experience cold temperatures in order for them to break their dormancy to germinate, grow and bloom next spring. That said, many wildflower seeds will germinate and grow just fine if you plant them in the spring, but your best bet is to plant them in the fall or early winter so that they experience winter temperatures.

You can search in our National Suppliers Directory to find native wildflower seeds for your area.

 

More Propagation Questions

Growing Alopia drummondii from Seed
July 09, 2015 - Can you give me information about, or a resource for, growing Alophia drummondii (propeller plant) from seed? I have the seed but don't know when & the best method for planting?
view the full question and answer

Properties of Nolina species
November 16, 2010 - I bought two plants that were labeled "Nolina" but one has round leaves and the other has flat leaves with serrations. Are they two different species? Also, can they be divided or is there only on...
view the full question and answer


July 27, 2015 - Hi, thanks for all your help in the past! I have a generous spot in my spacious back yard that is begging to be filled. The top soil is 4" sandy loam, below which is black clay.With frog strangler r...
view the full question and answer

Virginia wild strawberry plants for New Hampshire or Massachusetts
February 25, 2009 - Where can I find Virginia wild strawberry plants or seeds for my garden and will they grow up north in New Hampshire or Massachusetts?
view the full question and answer

Edibility of non-native garlic sprouts from Brancburg, NJ
March 12, 2013 - I have regular garlic in my refrigerator. It had sprouts growing out of it so I put it in a cup of water. Now that the stems are large enough to put in food, my question is.. Is that part of the garl...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center