Home Gardening Propagating Native Vegetation From Seed within the Mountain West – FineGardening

Propagating Native Vegetation From Seed within the Mountain West – FineGardening


Once I take into consideration rising vegetation from seed, I often take into consideration my vegetable backyard. I direct-sow many varieties of these seeds, akin to beans, carrots, and squash. I observe the planting instructions on the packet (which can often embrace soaking seeds in water for a couple of hours), and, voila, an edible backyard seems shortly thereafter.

Whereas that approach will work for another varieties of vegetation, propagating native vegetation from seed isn’t at all times fairly that straightforward.

Scotts clematis seeds
These Scott’s clematis (Clematis scottii, Zones 4–7) seeds have been collected in fall and have to be cleaned earlier than planting. Photograph: Michelle Provaznik

Seed sources

Lots of our native nurseries and backyard facilities promote native seeds, generally in wildflower packets or in single species packets. Remember to verify the wildflower packets to be sure to are solely getting Mountain West natives; generally these packets include different varieties. For a lot of of those packets, it is possible for you to to straight sow the seeds into your backyard following the instructions supplied.

You may additionally select to collect your own seed. To do that, begin by ensuring the seed is ripe (usually, flowers have died again by this time). Lower the dried flowers or seed heads, and retailer them in paper luggage till you’re prepared to wash them, ensuring to mark every bag clearly with the kind of flower that’s in it. Retailer these luggage in a cool, dry place till you’re prepared to wash or put together the seeds for planting.

Breaking dormancy

Native vegetation within the Mountain West have tailored to our local weather with its chilly, snowy winters, and lots of have built-in seed dormancies to maintain them from sprouting on the incorrect time, which is simple to do in our variable local weather. That is very true for perennials and woody vegetation. Luckily, there are a few strategies that can be utilized at dwelling to “get up” our native plant seeds.

Scarification. This methodology is to be used on seeds with very onerous coats that forestall moisture from getting into. It requires bodily abrading the seed, both with sandpaper or by nicking it with a knife (that is higher for bigger seeds). Lupines (Lupinus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) and purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrata, Zones 4–8) are two frequent vegetation that require this methodology. Different scarification strategies embrace soaking the seed in a single day in water and even soaking it in very heat water.

seeds ready for stratification
These seeds have been positioned in flats stuffed with rising medium and are prepared to maneuver exterior for stratification. Photograph: Michelle Provaznik

Stratification. This system mimics the impact of our winters and requires each chilly and moisture. There are a few other ways to do that. The primary is to place some potting combine or sand in a plastic bag and add slightly water and medium, simply till the combination is moist. Add the seeds and blend once more. Refrigerate for 4 to eight weeks (every selection is totally different, however this may work for many).

One other technique to implement stratification is to straight sow seeds into containers (a flat works properly for a number of vegetation) and water. Place the containers exterior on the north facet of the home or fence in order that they keep shaded and colder. Hopefully, they are going to be lined with snow for a lot of the season. This may enable nature to do the work of chilling the seeds, and the vegetation ought to germinate because the climate warms.

Coneflowers (Echinacea spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9), fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium syn. Epilobium angusitfolium, Zones 2–7), and Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata var. angusta, annual) all have to be stratified for profitable germination.

prepping pots for planting
Put together the pots you want for planting earlier than you sow your seeds. Photograph: Michelle Provaznik


How and when to plant seeds depends upon the variability, the area you wish to plant them in, and the time of 12 months you wish to plant them.

Direct-sowing into the soil can happen in spring or fall. Annuals do properly planted in springtime. You might wish to sow longer-lived perennials in autumn, as most want chilly and moisture to germinate. Direct-sowing is best for big planting areas.

Sowing into containers offers you extra management over the variety of vegetation and is efficient with bigger vegetation. It additionally helps you transport seedlings to plant within the backyard.

Be sure to time your seed beginning based mostly on while you’d wish to transplant the seedlings. Photograph: Karen Beaty

Study extra

There are some glorious sources for beginning Mountain West native vegetation from seed. Go to your state’s native plant society website, or Western Native Seed.

In case you’d wish to study extra about how nurseries develop native vegetation, try Raising Native Plants in Nurseries: Basic Concepts by the USDA’s Rocky Mountain Analysis Station.

For some nice Mountain West native plant candidates to start out from seed, learn on right here:

And for much more data on rising all types of various vegetation from seed, see our All About Starting Seeds assortment.

—Michelle Provaznik is govt director of the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado.