It's autumn and the growing season is winding down. Many of the native plants in your gardens and prairies may look spent but don't be fooled by the scraggly appearance -- there are hundreds of seeds on each of your plants that are ready to be dispersed out into the landscape to grow elsewhere. While natural distribution is important, you can also collect some of those seeds to further expand your garden without spending any more money!
It is easy to do and requires only a few materials you likely already have. You will need: garden snippers, paper bags (ones with handles are helpful) and a permanent marker. You may also want an identification guide for native plants if you're like me and might not remember all that you have planted over the years.
From there, it is fairly simple by following the step-by-step process below.
Each fall, Rick Bryan, former Lucas SWCD Board Supervisor (2002-2013) and member of the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation Commission, volunteers his time to help with the District's seed collection efforts and then processes/stratifies the seeds to make seed packets for our annual Tree, Shrub and Garden Sale. While collecting seed this month, he shared some helpful tips in the video below!
Some seeds come off the plant ready to sow. Others come inside pods in which case you should open the pods to remove the seeds. And with smaller seeds that are more difficult to see or are inside the flower head, it is easiest to just break up the flower head in your hand and plant everything, hopefully with seeds included. Check out this article from Wild Ones in St. Louis that shares other ideas for separating out the seeds after collecting.
If you have questions about collecting seed in your garden, contact our office or stop by and we can talk with you more about the process. We can also show you some of the areas that we are preparing for native prairie plantings later this fall!