From Seeds to Seedlings

| Native Plant & Seed Swaps, Propagation

By Jen Smith

Seed Swap update. Thanks to everyone who came out to the Seed Swap events in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins! Swap attendance was double last year’s, and we had more seeds at the end than when we started due to so many of your generous donations.

Northern Colorado Seed Swap
Northern Colorado Seed Swap
Denver seed swap
Denver Seed Swap

Germination. Now that you have all of these native seeds, you may be wondering how to transform these into plants? You can start by becoming familiar with the Wild Ones Front Range Chapter’s Germination Guide for Native Seeds, authored by member Jan Midgely. In this guide, Jan outlines recommended germination techniques and difficulty level for an extensive list of native species.

Propagation. From there, you can refer to the Native Plant Propagation page on our website. Here you will find various ways to sow seeds, including scattering them during a snowstorm, creating mini-greenhouses out of Ziplock bags (be sure to view the fabulous how-to video by member Jen Frazer!), and sowing them outdoors in trays. Just pick a method that feels do-able for you, and treat it as a fun science experiment.  

Seed starter trays covered in snow

Speaking of experiments, last winter member Brian Rasmussen decided to sow three seed species that are native to his area in two different soil mixes and compare results (Eriogonum umbellatum, Heliomeris multiflora and Penstemon virens). For each seed, he sowed the left side of the flat in Black Gold Seedling Mix and the right side in a homemade native soil mix. The pictures below show that his homemade native soil mix was the clear winner! Learn more details about Brian’s method on the Native Plant Propagation page and see if it inspires you to try germinating in your own native soil mix.

soil mix comparison for propagation
soil mix comparison for propagation
soil mix comparison for propagation

Want to learn even more about native plant propagation? Wild Ones Front Range chapter members are welcome to join our propagation committee. This group meets monthly to discuss propagation techniques and develops best practices to share with our membership (it’s a lot of hands-on fun as shown in the photo below). To join, email us with your interest.

WOFR Propagation Committee at work

Curious to learn more about transforming your garden into a habitat with Colorado native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees? Check out our native gardening toolkit, register for an upcoming event, subscribe to our newsletter, and/or become a member – if you’re not one already!