En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Vehicle friendly oak trees for Austin
March 30, 2008 - Do Chinquapins, Shumards or Live Oaks produce lots of tree sap? I'm looking for a vehicle friendly Oak tree to be installed in parking areas in Austin, Texas.
view the full question and answer

How to sow Eves Necklace seeds.
October 03, 2007 - I have recently acquired some Eve's Necklace seed pods. In order to plant them, do I need to open the pod to get to the seed, or do I just plant the pod? Should I soak or scarify the pod/seed?
view the full question and answer

Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
July 01, 2010 - I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
view the full question and answer

How to grow milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) for monarch butterflies
March 31, 2010 - I tried and tried and tried to grow Asclepias viridis, A. asperula and even A. oenotheroides from seeds and even tubers for fourteen years! Do you have advice for growing these and other milkweed plan...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of one of two Texas persimmons from Wimberly TX
May 04, 2013 - Last year my son planted two texas persimmon trees. One is blooming ok this year and the other is not. It does not seem dead. What can I do or is is in fact dying?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center