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What is this To help gardeners understand which plants will grow well for them, the entire USA has been segmented into ‘Plant Hardiness Zones’.

Grow Native Wildflowers From Seed

Native Wildflowers Foxglove Banner Foxglove is a beautiful example of some of our rare and native wildflower seeds.
By Marianne Willburn, gardening expert, landscape designer and writer.

Grow Native Wildflowers, Create Native Beauty

They’re beautiful. They’re cost-effective. They’re pollinator magnets and they’re matched to your climate. Native wildflowers are versatile enough to bring the best of your region to garden beds, sunny meadows, difficult hell-strips or simple patio containers – and they’ll do so with exuberance and grace.

It's hard to believe there’s no magic involved when you grow native wildflowers from seed in your own garden, particularly when you use seeds specifically chosen for your region.

Experiencing the effusive, untamed beauty of native wildflowers at their peak is not just for nature lovers on summer hikes. After all, wildflowers seed themselves prolifically on the edges of freeways just as easily as they do in a spring meadow. All it takes is good seed, the right conditions and a willingness within the gardener to let nature take its course!

Why Should I Grow Native Wildflowers from Seed?

Wildflower Garden Small
Native wildflowers can even be planted in a small plot with great results, as long as the proper coverage rates are followed.

All over the nation, gardeners are considering meadow garden projects, and it’s more than just turning off the mower and seeing what happens. Native wildflower seed can take that unmown lawn and turn it into a natural work of art. It can turn a window box outside a sunny city window into a little glimpse of the natural world.

You don’t have to start seeding a one-acre meadow to benefit from the beauty of native wildflowers, you can start just as small as you wish. The benefits of growing native wildflowers from seed are many, and sowing them in the autumn means you’ll be helped out by the conditions that make your climate and those seeds unique.

Let’s look at a few reasons to get sowing this fall:

Perfect Adaptation: Native wildflowers are suited to the soils of your region and its typical weather patterns.

Pollinator Paradise: Native plants and wildlife have developed special relationships over time. It’s wonderful to see them working together in your garden.

Less Maintenance: When it comes to seeds, there’s no transplanting or hardening off required. Simply prepare the seed bed, water, and watch for signs of germination.

Money Savings: Wildflowers selected for your climate mean that less money needs to be spent on expensive fertilizers and amendments – not to mention water bills. Add to that the tendency of wildflowers to multiply over time and you can see why many thrifty gardeners rely on the natural beauty of native wildflowers.

Regional Beauty What better way to show off the plants that make your region unique than utilizing its native wildflowers?

How Do I Grow Native Wildflowers from Seed?

Don’t worry, the process is simple, but we want to give you a lot of step-by-step information so you feel ready!

Wildflower Seeds
Grab a bag of our wildflower seeds today and get started!

Upon Receiving Your Seeds:

Read the enclosed instructions immediately so you don’t miss out on something – just as if you were cooking a new recipe. Here are some things to look for as you read:

Placement in your garden

What type of seed bed will your native wildflowers need? Fine? Rough? Rocky? Are they better in sun or shade, or fine in both?

Will they need stratification?

Stratification is a long word to describe the need of some seeds to go through a prescribed length of cold temperatures (often in a moist growing media) in order to break internal dormancy and germinate. Many native wildflowers require this treatment if planted in the spring, but it can be approximated at home through refrigeration, depending on the seed.

Will they need scarification?

Scarification refers to the process of nicking or softening the seed coat to promote germination. Seeds cannot germinate unless moisture can get through that seed coat, and some seeds (such as lupine or morning glory) are designed to be able to last for years outside (It’s a progeny insurance policy for plants!)

Eventually naturally sown seed will be scarified by outside forces, but if you want your seeds to germinate next spring, you may need to help out a little by nicking them with a knife, soaking them for up to 48 hours in warm water, or rubbing them between two sheets of coarse sandpaper before you sow them.

When It’s Time to Plant:

  • If required, scarify and soak your wildflower seeds.
  • Prepare your seed bed according to instructions and your conditions.
  • If seed is very small, mix with a light colored sand so seeds are evenly mixed and you can see where you have sown them.
  • Most wildflowers need no more than a light raking in. Follow planting instructions.
  • Make sure to tamp the soil down with your feet, tamper or roller to ensure the seeds make good soil/seed contact.
  • Lightly water. Be careful not to not wash out your seeds!
  • Keep your seed bed evenly moist during times of unseasonable drought. Most of the time, native wildflowers will get the moisture they need through spring or fall rains, but it is wise to keep a sharp eye on your seedlings until they are established.

Shop All Native Wildflowers

  • Blue Flax Seeds

    Starting at $8.95

    Sale: $7.61

    Per 1/4 Pound

  • Swamp Milkweed Seeds

    Starting at $4.95

    Sale: $4.71

    Per Packet

  • Butterfly Weed Seeds

    Starting at $4.95

    Sale: $4.71

    Per Packet

  • Cardinal Flower Seeds


    Sale: $4.46

    Per Packet

Grow a ‘Cheat Sheet’!

Afraid you might ‘weed-out’ your emerging wildflowers? Consider planting a few seeds of each of your wildflower choices in an egg carton on an inside windowsill so that you can recognize what is coming up in your garden. Take a picture for your reference when you forget.

Some gardeners do this with any unfamiliar seed they are currently planting. It allows them to quickly recognize seedlings coming up in odd places. Weeds are clever. You’ve got to be cleverer.

4 week old lupine seedlings
4 week old lupine seedlings.
4 week old blanket flowers
4 week old blanket flower seedlings.
4 week old blue flax seedlings
4 week old blue flax seedlings.

Whatever Your Region, We Have Native Wildflowers for You

Whether your summers are dry and hot or wet and humid, American Meadows has native wildflower perennial and annual mixes that will enhance your garden and reflect the beauty of your region. For those who wish to plant individual species – we’ve got those too! Regional recommendations follow.

Southwest: Usually the driest and hottest region of the United States, with small amounts of rainfall coming during the fall and winter seasons. Generally mild winters with snow at upper elevations, sometimes heavy. Includes: AZ, Southern CA, NM, Southern NV, OK and Western TX.

Examples Include: Prairie Aster, Desert Marigold, Farewell-to-Spring, Plains Coreopsis, California Poppy, Mexican Gold Poppy, Indian Blanket, Bird’s Eyes, Blue Flax, Tidy Tips, Arizona Lupine, Arroyo Lupine, Blazing Star, Five Spot, White Evening Primrose, Showy Pink Evening Primrose, California Bluebell, Mexican Hat.

Pink Showy Evening Primrose
The Showy Evening Primrose is a lovely pastel pink primrose that is perfect for any dry areas.
Blanket Flower
Blanket Flower adds vibrant, bold color to any sunny garden and blooms for months, and is native to the plains and Western U.S

Western: Drier conditions and hot days predominate. Precipitation comes during the fall and winter months and summers are dry. Mild winters with snow at upper elevations, sometimes heavy. Includes: CO, ID, MT, NV, ND, Eastern OR, SD, UT, Eastern WA and WY. Canada: Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Examples Include: Blue Columbine, Smooth Aster, Prairie Aster, Deerhorn Clarkia, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant, Plains Coreopsis, Fleabane Daisy, Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket, Globe Gilia, Blue Flax, White Evening Primrose, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Purple Prairie Clover, Mexican Hat, Black-eyed Susan, Showy Goldeneye.

Mexican Hat
Customer Photo by Pat L. features the beloved Mexican Hat which is perfect for areas with loose soil and dry open prairies.
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant is a drought resistant large bushy perennial that's perfect for the back of a perennial border.

Midwest: Extremes dominate in the Midwest, high and low temperatures and periods of low or very high rainfall contributing to drought or flooding. Soil is deeply frozen over winter and snow is usually heavy. Includes: IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, OH and WI. Canada: Province of Ontario.

Examples Include: Red Columbine, Butterfly Weed, New England Aster, Prairie Aster, Lance-leaf Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Pale Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Rattlesnake Master, Blanket Flower, Indian Blanket, Ox-eye Sunflower, Standing Cypress, Prairie Blazing Star, Wild Lupine, Lemon Mint, Evening Primrose, Purple Prairie Clover, Yellow Prairie Coneflower, Grey-headed Coneflower, Clasping Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Brown-eyed Susan.

Plains Coreopsis Wildflower Meadow
Recently designated as Florida's Official State Plant, the Plains Coreopsis has the perfect blooms for bouquets.
Lemon Mint
Lemon Mint, which smells of both lemon and lavender, is a pollinator favorite and blooms from Spring to Summer.

Pacific Northwest: The temperate maritime climate means plants face a moisture rich environment all season and are easily germinated. Winters are fairly mild and snowfall is light. Includes: Northern CA, Western OR and Western WA. Canada: Province of British Columbia.

Examples Include: Godetia, Farewell-to-Spring, Chinese Houses, Plains Coreopsis, California Poppy, Globe Gilia, Bird’s Eyes, Tidy Tips, Mountain Phlox, Blue Flax, Sickle-keeled Lupine, Russell Lupine, Blazing Star, Five Spot, Baby Blue Eyes, Evening Primrose, California Bluebell.

Tidy Tips
Tidy Tips is a fun western hybrid that is native to California, and provides extended blooms during the summer.
Baby Blue Eyes
Baby Blue Eyes are one of the earliest bloomers, and tend to start the spring show in your meadow.

Northeast: Warm to very hot summers lead into cold winters. Rainfall is fairly steady throughout the growing season and humidity in southern part of region is an added challenge. Snow levels are sporadic in the south but heavy in the north and soil is deeply frozen throughout the winter. Includes CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT and WV. Canada: Province of Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador, PEI, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Examples Include: Eastern Red Columbine, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, New England Aster, Partridge Pea, Lance-leafed Coreopsis, Spotted Joe Pye Weed, Indian Blanket, Ox-eye Sunflower, Blazing Star, Wild Lupine, Wild Bergamot, Evening Primrose, Beard Tongue, Black Eyed Susan, Sweet Coneflower, Brown-Eyed Susan, Rigid Goldenrod.

Swamp Milkweed
Swamp Milkweed is a showier milkweed that provides resources for our butterfly population.
Swamp Milkweed
Joe Pye Weed can rise to as tall as 5 or 6 feet with large hydrangea-like lavender blooms. Joe Pye is great for any moist areas.

Southeast: The wettest region of the United States, it is also the most humid. Temperatures are very mild during the winter, and seeds or plants needing any type of winter stratification or vernalization are not recommended unless grown as annuals. Includes: AL, AR, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, Eastern TX and VA.

Examples Include: Butterfly Weed, Partridge Pea, Lance-leaf Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower, Rattlesnake Master, Indian Blanket, Standing Cypress, Blazing Star, Wild Lupine, Lemon Mint, Drummond Phlox, Mexican Hat, Clasping Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Scarlet Sage, Spiderwort.

Rattlesnake Master
Rattlesnake Master is an easy growing, adaptable native perennial that provides long lasting visual texture.
Patridge Pea
The Partridge Pea is a wonderful pollinator-attracting annual with bright yellow blooms.

Other Factors to Consider When Growing Native Wildflowers from Seed

Breaking Dormancy

Despite your best efforts, some seeds may not break dormancy and germinate the first year, but will the next year or in years thereafter. Don’t give up! Some seeds may not have been adequately stratified or scarified, or were accidentally buried too deeply or too shallowly. Mother Nature often sorts it out.


If you are seeing a very low germination rate, you may have experienced a loss of seed due to birds or pests. Consider a second sowing and make sure you create good soil seed contact with a tamper, roller or your feet.


Timing is critical, especially for spring-planted wildflower seeds that germinate very early and would otherwise have spent the winter outside. Some of these (such as larkspur or poppies) will germinate before traditional signs of spring appear and are best planted in fall or in the late winter.

Weed Competition

Make sure to keep weeding out the seedlings you recognize as weeds to give your wildflowers the best start. Don’t recognize your native wildflower seedlings? Germinate a few inside (see above).

If you’re seeding into a meadow environment, there’s more involved than just throwing seeds into established turf. Follow our recommendations for creating a meadow.

Further Reading:

About the Author: Marianne Willburn is a columnist, blogger and author of the new book "Big Dreams, Small Garden: Creating Something Extraordinary in Your Ordinary Space." Originally from California, she now gardens in Virginia – read more at www.smalltowngardener.com.

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