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Monday - May 17, 2010

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Wildflowers for NY that bloom in the first season
Answered by: Anne Bossart


Hi, I'm looking for native annuals that germinate the same season they're planted. There are many northeast native annuals but most of them require a season of frost to germinate the following spring. Can you suggest some attractive annuals that would work for this context? Thanks!!


Unfortunately, our Native Plant Database does not currently have a powerful enough search function to be very helpful and although our team of Green Gurus is quite diverse in experience and geography there is no-one who can give you a quick answer or point you to a database/website.

You are absolutely right when you say that most annual seeds must be sown in the fall.  They are regionally adapted in the south so some germinate in the fall when there is moisture, overwinter as small plants that can tolerate what cold weather there is, to flower the following spring.  Other southern wildflowers germinate in the spring and flower happily later in the summer.  The north, as you know, is a different story.  Most annuals have adapted so that they do not germinate before winter, preventing the seedling from perishing during winter even though the seed is shed (planted by nature) in late summer or fall.  So you must subject seed that you want to germinate a natural, or artificial "winter".

A manual search of the list of annuals native to New York yields one plant whose seed does not require pre-treatment:

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed)

Good luck with your search.  Here are some organizations that may be able to help:

New York Flora Association

New England Wildflower Society

Native Seed Network


Coreopsis tinctoria






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