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

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Thursday - March 10, 2011

From: Rochelle, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Bulk seed purchases for naturalizing area in Rochelle VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am planning on naturalizing an area, ~ 7 acres, with wildflowers. I am spending quite a bit preparing the acreage and find I am falling short on funds for the bulk purchase of wildflower seeds. Can you recommend sources for a variety of flowers, native as well as others, where I can bulk buy on more limited funds? Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

Let us first refer you to some of our How-To Articles that won't necessarily answer your question specifically, but will help you get a perspective. First, Wildlife Gardening and then Getting Started (with wildflower plantings) and Meadow Gardening. Seed Collecting and Storing would also be a cost-efficient method, if time-consuming, to gather the needed seeds. This website from the Virginia Wildflower Program has several references to seed purchase. This Wildflower Seed Virginia Stock site has a list of "value priced regional wildflower mixtures."

A couple of things we would like to mention on naturalizing an area. In order to truly "naturalize" you need to stick to plants native to the part of the country where you are working. Don't buy seed mixes; they often include many plants not only not native to the area, but not even native to North America, and may also include invasive weeds that can negate everything you are trying to do. Another problem you are going to encounter is that this is not the right time of year to be shopping for large quantities of seeds. Most native wildflowers must have their seeds hand-harvested in order to avoid gathering seeds of undesirable or non-native species. This is slow, time consuming and expensive. The seeds you are looking for were probably gathered last Fall and are now already being marketed. In Texas, we generally plant our wildflower seeds in the Fall, and have to wait for late summer to early Fall for the seeds to be available in any numbers.

From this Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website Natural Heritage you may be able to find some more resources to help you. Native plant societies sometimes have sales or distribution of native seeds; contact the Native Plant Society of Virginia.

Finally, check our National Suppliers Directory. Type your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscapers in your general area. We can't promise that any of them will have what you are looking for, or at a low bulk price, but all have contact information so you can check with them.

 

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