Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Can Gaura coccinea be transplanted
June 14, 2008 - Hello, I had Gaura coccinea growing on my property when I lived in Albuquerque. I have been looking for it for years to plant in my xeric aroma garden. Taking a walk yesterday I found some in a ditch ...
view the full question and answer

Weak flowering on rosa minutifolia from San Diego CA
July 27, 2013 - Hi, I have a Rosa minutifolia and has been doing great, but when it gives flowers the petals fall too fast, only last a day or two and also the fruit never forms completely and finishes drying so I ca...
view the full question and answer

Saving seeds of western red cedar from Monroe WA
June 06, 2011 - I would like to know how to save and store seeds of western redcedar if not planning on planting them their current year.
view the full question and answer

Can trees survive if trunks are buried under 3-5 ft of soil?
January 27, 2012 - We have two cedar elms and a mesquite that I protected from backfill as our Texas Hill Country lot was leveled in preparation for building a house. The bulkheads are now holding back 3' to 5' of ma...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Mexican buckeye from seeds in San Antonio
October 02, 2009 - I recently collected seeds from a Mexican buckeye. Is it best to plant them now or wait until spring? Do they need to be scarified?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.