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Seed Starting

It can be intimidating to grow plants from seed, especially native wildflowers, but it is a beautiful and incredibly satisfying process, as well as inexpensive.  The seeds we sell are simply not available at nurseries and garden centers so it is also the only way to build a truly native, perennial garden that will last for years.    


These supplies are available at most garden centers, plant nurseries or online.

Seed starting mix

There are many great mixes available at nurseries, garden centers, and online.


Growing containers

You can start seeds in pots, old six packs from plant nurseries, plug trays, even old egg cartons.  We use 72 cell trays (which are available online) but they are not necessary.  Just make sure that the container you use has good drainage.  


Leakproof Tray

We use a standard 1020 tray without drainage holes, but another long, flat-bottomed container that you can fit your growing containers in will work for bottom watering as well.


Clear Acrylic Dome lid

We use the 2-in (5cm) size to keep seedlings warm and moist during the crucial germination and early growing period.



We use wood or plastic 5 by ⅝ inch tags for the seed trays.


Fine vermiculite (optional)

We use vermiculite to cover seed trays rather than soil because it speeds up germination.


Ideal Growing Conditions


To keep your growing space between 60°F and 70°F.  You may use a heat mat, space heater, or another heat source.



Try to keep air moving in your growing space.  Open windows occasionally or use a box fan.



Seedlings need 14-16 hours of light a day.  You can hang LEDs or fluorescent lights above your plants if you don’t have enough natural light in your growing space.  Specialized “grow lights” are not necessary.


Step 1

Add water to your seed-starting mix until it is uniformly damp (make sure there aren’t any dry clumps) but not so wet that it drips when you squeeze it in your hand.

Step 4

Make a hole that is twice as deep as the longest side of the seed that you are planting.  I use my finger, but some people prefer to use a pencil or chopstick.

Step 7

Cover each tray with a clear acrylic dome lid.  The lid should preserve the necessary humidity for germination, but check the trays daily in case they need to be watered. When the soil starts to dry out, fill a leakproof tray with ½ inch of water and place the cell trays in it.  The soil will absorb the water from below through the holes in each cell.

Step 2

Fill your seed trays or pots with moist seed-starting mix.  Tap the bottom of the tray on the table a couple of times to help the soil settle, but do not compact it into the cells.  

Step 5

I plant 2 seeds in each cell to hedge my bets unless it is a variety that does better with multi-seeding in which case I plant 3-4.   

Step 8

Once at least half of the seeds have germinated, remove the dome lids.  Make sure your seedlings get 14-16 hours of light and that the soil is moist every day.  

Step 3

Label a tag with the variety and date you are planting.  Trust me you will forget- do not skip this step!

Step 6

Sprinkle the seeds with a light layer of vermiculite or seed-starting mix. 

Step 9

When your seedlings are beginning to outgrow their containers it is necessary to prepare them for transplanting into larger pots or outside.  To avoid shocking (and often killing) your plants with a dramatic change in conditions you must harden them off.  This consists in taking the trays outside to a shady spot for a few hours and then bringing them back to your growing space.  Slowly increase the amount of time they are outside over the next 7-10 days before transplanting them.    


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