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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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Tuesday - February 28, 2012

From: Bayside, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: How do I plant seeds harvested from my flower bed?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

In early Spring of 2011 I planted a new raised bed 75'x4' in size, with wildflower seeds obtained from a commercial nursery in Corpus Christi. I was taken back by their cost relative to the volume of seeds. However, the results were spectacular. The blossoms attracted hummingbirds, a wide assortment of butterflies, and tons of honey bees, all of which pleased me to no-end. In late Fall after petal fall, I harvested the dried seeds. Mr. Plants, are there special instructions for planting them? I believe that in the wild, the seeds would just fall to earth and germinate when the combination of moisture and temps were reached.

ANSWER:

After harvesting your own seeds, you may have an appreciation for the cost of seed from commercial suppliers. Its fairly labor intensive.

You can plant your harvested seeds just like you planted the  store-bought seeds that you had last Spring. Some (maybe all) will germinate, and some will not. Your thoughts about seeds in the wild are mostly true. The thing you are not taking into account is the phenomenon of dormancy that some seeds exhibit. There are certain environmental conditions other than moisture and temperature that must be met before certain seeds will germinate. This article from Virginia Tech Extension does a good job of explaining the different aspects of seed germination  The seeds that you got from the supplier had been treated to remove the dormancy inhibitors.

Click here for more information about seed germination.

 

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