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

Deadheading Asclepias tuberosa in Fishers IN
August 19, 2009 - My Asclepias tuberosa plants are flowering well in their second year and also have formed many seed pods. Since I don't need the seeds, will they bloom more if I remove them or is it unnecessary?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting or seeding Indian paintbrush in Bend OR
July 21, 2009 - I would like to know whether I can transplant native Indian paintbrush plants into my landscaping, or do I need to try and grow them from seed?
view the full question and answer

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

Grow bluebonnets in Virginia
September 04, 2007 - I want to ATTEMPT to grow some Texas Bluebonnets in VA because I am homesick and both our kids are back in Austin. That said, the site says " it may be necessary to inoculate the soil with a rhizobiu...
view the full question and answer

Propagating Silky Sophora by seed from Elmendorf TX
July 24, 2013 - I have some seed for the Sophora nutalliana. What is the best way to germinate this seed?
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center