Time to plant?!
Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were walking around in sandals and shorts; playing in the garden, enjoying a swim in the lake in early September? How on earth did November arrive so quickly? I better get busy, Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away…then the holidays!! Yikes!
Ok, no need to panic. As far as for my plans to add more seed to my gardens and prairie, well, that’s another story. I have PLENTY of time! Yea!
While we are busy raking leaves, adding compost to our gardens, mulching newly established plants and putting our garden tools away, seeding native wildflowers can occur anytime in fall and early winter.
Fall seeding of all native species is considered a dormant seeding. Most summer-blooming prairie flowers and grasses are “warm season” plants, and germinate best at temperatures around 80 degrees F. (27 degrees C.). Spring-blooming prairie and woodland flowers are “cool season” plants, and typically germinate in early spring at cool temperatures in the 60s and 70s F. (15 to 21 degrees C.). By the time fall arrives our soil temperatures have begun to cool, and as such, the soils can no longer support germination of the seed.
Truth be told, I could have planted my seed as early as mid September (as is the case in most areas of the Great Lakes, Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains states). Since there is no rush, we can seed on partially frozen soil, well into early winter. In areas further south the seeding dates are slightly later.
Seed planted in fall will gradually become accepted into the soil through the freeze/thaw cycles in late fall-early winter and later-winter. On a “warm” winter day the soils open up and then at night when the temperatures lower the soil surface “closes” and this ground action helps to pull the seed into the soil.
After a long winter of dormancy our seed that stayed snug in the ground all winter is now ready to germinate and begin the journey as a newly sprouted native in our prairie and gardens!
November is a great time to seed. For more information on seeding in fall, check out this native seeding guide on our website.